POW­ER­PLANT MO­TOR­CY­CLES

Hot Bike - - Con­tents - WORDS: JOR­DAN MASTAGNI PHO­TOS: TIM SUT­TON

It’s amaz­ing that Yaniv Evan even has time to shake any­one’s hand when they walk through the doors of Pow­er­plant Mo­tor­cy­cles in Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia. See­ing him ping-pong back and forth be­tween the garage and the re­tail store on Mel­rose Av­enue, it feels like a work­out just watch­ing him op­er­ate. Turns out he’s just a pas­sion­ate dude, tend­ing to his busi­ness. At warp speed.

Yaniv isn’t your typ­i­cal yes man. Maybe it’s be­cause his rep­u­ta­tion and im­pres­sive body of work have al­lowed him a cer­tain carte blanche to say no to things that sim­ply don’t ap­ply to his tastes or sched­ule. That’s a place we hu­mans strive to reach, right? A place where you can say no to things in or­der to fo­cus on what re­ally mat­ters. Or maybe it’s be­cause of Yaniv’s self-pro­claimed ADD.

We like to think his dis­or­der stems from hav­ing so many prover­bial irons in the fire: hand-build­ing cus­tomer bikes (lit­er­ally mak­ing cer­tain parts from scratch), man­ag­ing a global re­tail store with clien­tele sport­ing Pow­er­plant merch pretty much ev­ery­where, and man­ag­ing a staff that com­prises an eclec­tic mix of folks, all en­gaged and tal­ented

in their own right. And Yaniv gladly pays it for­ward with his ap­pren­tices. He un­der­stands the tal­ents of each one of his em­ploy­ees and nur­tures those skills to en­sure they’ll flour­ish. Yaniv also has his eye on cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity spot at Pow­er­plant where his friends and cus­tomers can ride down and hang out for a bit while sip­ping a latte and en­joy­ing a panini from the cof­fee shop he plans to open one day. Ba­si­cally, Yaniv’s pretty damn am­bi­tious.

Yaniv is also a pack rat, hoard­ing mo­tor­cy­cle and hot-rod trin­kets, take­offs, blown apart Shov­els, Knuck­les, Pans, and the gas-tank grave­yard hang­ing from the rafters where poorly ex­e­cuted con­cepts go to die. Yaniv’s a per­fec­tion­ist. If it’s not ex­actly what he en­vi­sioned, it’s ei­ther tweaked un­til it’s per­fect or it’s thrown out—and by thrown out, we mean he puts it some­where else. He usu­ally can’t bring him­self to part with any­thing be­cause of the blood, sweat, tears, and beers he’s poured into ev­ery project.

Yaniv’s an in­ter­est­ing cat; very much a pleaser. Maybe it’s from his culi­nary back­ground, in which his fa­ther in­stilled the im­por­tance of ser­vice when Yaniv was a wee lad. Maybe it’s his back­ground in aero­nau­tics school, where noth­ing he did was right (in their eyes). You can tell from the Pow­er­plant hang-arounds, but more im­por­tantly his staff, that he’s not in­ter­ested in peo­ple with noth­ing to of­fer or who aren’t suck­ing the mar­row out of their own lives. “If they’re not stoked, they’re not here,” Yaniv pro­claims.

Pow­er­plant Mo­tor­cy­cles opened its doors in 2002, but Yaniv’s skills were de­vel­oped from an early age. He grew up in Tampa, Florida, where a few stock-car­rac­ing-junkie neigh­bors saw the stars in Yaniv’s eyes and proudly took him un­der their wings. Yaniv spent all his free time in his neigh­bors’ garages, soak­ing up ev­ery ounce of gear­head knowl­edge. The one thing his men­tors in­stilled in Yaniv that stood out: The sky is the limit. “When you have some­thing like that [psy­chol­ogy] in your head, that any­thing is pos­si­ble and that you can make it hap­pen if you’ve got the time and ma­te­ri­als, you re­ally can make it hap­pen,” Yaniv says. “So from that age, I was al­ready like, ‘I could build a f—king rocket if I want.’”

Talk about drive and pas­sion. Yaniv ap­plied this phi­los­o­phy from an early age. Fast-for­ward to 1984. Yaniv and his fam­ily moved to Los An­ge­les. Yaniv wasn’t a huge fan of school, and when he was 17, he thirsted for knowl­edge in the trades. This led Yaniv to the air­frame and power plant (A&P) school where he’d hone cer­tain skills ap­pli­ca­ble to build­ing cus­tom bikes. “We learned how to work on the out­side struc­ture of an air­plane, alu­minum work, riv­et­ing, any­thing hy­draulic,” Yaniv re­mem­bers. In a year, Yaniv learned how to patch pan­els of alu­minum and be­came a pretty skilled riveter.

But he hated it.

He hated that it had no soul. He hated the assem­bly-line vibe. It lacked cre­ativ­ity. Yaniv was a right-brainer in a left-brain world. “It was just a bunch of old dudes and then me,” Yaniv says. “I got to learn a lot from those dudes, but at the same time, I had no in­ter­est in do­ing that for a liv­ing be­cause you can’t re­ally get your emo­tions or your ideas out, be­cause it doesn’t mat­ter. Every­thing’s in­spected to code. I’d lit­er­ally have two FAA in­spec­tors judg­ing [my work], and every­thing would be wrong, no mat­ter what I did.” But through those tri­als, Yaniv pushed on and en­coun­tered a solid work ethic along with the fab­ri­ca­tion ex­per­tise he’d ap­ply for a life­time.

Tak­ing those tools from A&P school, Yaniv be­came ob­sessed with Chevro­let Chev­elles, then hot rods, then, ul­ti­mately, Pan­heads. Yaniv’s mo­tor­cy­cle ca­reer be­gan with a sim­ple trade be­tween him and a cer­tain pro­pri­etor of a Long Beach cus­tom-mo­tor­cy­cle shop known as West Coast Chop­pers. “I had a ’36 Ford at the time and I wanted a Pan­head,” Yaniv re­calls. “I was so into Pan­heads, and Jesse James had a Pan­head called the Vanilla Go­rilla. He liked my ’36 Ford and I liked his Pan­head, so we traded.” When Yaniv got the bike, he blew it apart and re­al­ized he kind of liked tweak­ing two-wheeled ma­chines.

That all hap­pened when the cus­tombike world was ex­plod­ing. And there were a few men in the cus­tom-bike world who were mak­ing mem­o­rable waves in Yaniv’s mind.

“It was Jesse James, Billy Lane, and In­dian Larry,” Yaniv re­calls. “I got to spend a lot of time with In­dian Larry, but af­ter he died, I re­al­ized how lucky I was to spend ‘garage time’ with him.” Tak­ing things for granted is some­thing we all do, but Yaniv re­al­ized what an in­te­gral part In­dian Larry played in stitch­ing to­gether his own artis­tic fab­ric. “He would come by the shop and visit.”

But Yaniv never got the chance to visit In­dian Larry’s shop. Not un­til In­dian Larry’s fu­neral. Yaniv took the news pretty hard. His men­tor—his muse—was now gone. “We spent a lot of time on the phone. [In­dian Larry] would give me lessons over the phone. We just clicked,” Yaniv ex­plains. But Yaniv took the ad­vice, poured a lit­tle liquor out for his homie who was now look­ing on from above, and went full steam ahead with cus­tomiz­ing.

Yaniv opened Pow­er­plant in 2002, and he hasn’t looked back. What was a very small space in the heart of Hol­ly­wood be­came a sta­ple among those look­ing for pas­sion-built ma­chines. “Yeah, I’ve ex­panded, but it was re­ally small and it is still small,” Yaniv says. “But we’ve ex­panded the whole area and then the front of the store, which was kind of a fluke.” Yaniv’s re­fer­ring to the re­tail store­front that at the time lay va­cant on Mel­rose Av­enue, once a Hol­ly­wood shop­ping land­mark. His land­lords said to put a chop­per in the win­dow for passers-by to ogle, and maybe they’d buy some shirts. “I had some T-shirts and s—t, but not enough to make a store out of.” But his land­lord had faith, and gave Yaniv the space to park his bikes—and some well-placed merch—in the space un­til it was rented. It blew up. Turns out Hol­ly­wood likes chop­pers.

Things were go­ing well un­til the land­lord came knock­ing with a per­ma­nent ten­ant. Yaniv’s re­tail days were over. Or so he thought. “I had to give it back to him while he rented it to this guy. But the guy couldn’t make his rent, and a year later [the build­ing owner] said, ‘Look, he’s mov­ing out. You want the place?’ I was like, I still can’t af­ford it, but let me make some calls.” He started reach­ing out to oth­ers in the in­dus­try, and be­fore he knew it, he found some­one who knew the spot had po­ten­tial and stepped in to in­vest in the re­tail side of Pow­er­plant. The two are now busi­ness part­ners, which couldn’t have worked out bet­ter. Yaniv fo­cuses on what he does best: mo­tor­cy­cles. And the re­tail store slings merch. “They’re ac­tu­ally mak­ing s—t,” Yaniv says. “And with that, it al­lows me to have more free­dom in the garage.”

One thing led to an­other, and now Yaniv’s got a lit­tle bit of money that he can rein­vest into Pow­er­plant’s parts line. “I started man­u­fac­tur­ing some parts. My parts are like pretty much just for what I need right now.” Yaniv grabbed a throt­tle full of the bur­geon­ing FXR trend and saw po­ten­tial to cre­ate his own line. “I prob­a­bly bought over 30 sets of other peo­ple’s ris­ers, to the point where I re­al­ized I’ll just make my own ris­ers,” Yaniv says. And the parts line con­tin­ues to grow.

But Yaniv also un­der­stands the cur­rent cli­mate of own­ing an in­de­pen­dent cus­tom-mo­tor­cy­cle shop and has been fix­ated on build­ing FXRS. He sees Pow­er­plant’s fu­ture be­ing very bright. “I’ll al­ways like [mo­tor­cy­cles],” Yaniv says. “I love old chop­pers, knuck­le­heads and Shov­el­heads, you know? But I also love my busi­ness, and I want to keep it open.” But Yaniv doesn’t hold al­le­giances to any one par­tic­u­lar style of mo­tor­cy­cle or genre. He’s just a big fan of mo­tor­cy­cles in gen­eral. “I’m not a chop­per guy or an FXR guy. I just love two wheels, al­ways have. I don’t sup­port any clubs, I sup­port two wheels. That’s what it’s al­ways been about,” Yaniv says. “And you can see it in the bikes.” HB

“I’M NOT A CHOP­PER GUY OR AN FXR GUY. I JUST LOVE TWO WHEELS, AL­WAYS HAVE. I DON’T SUP­PORT ANY CLUBS, I SUP­PORT TWO WHEELS. THAT’S WHAT IT’S AL­WAYS BEEN ABOUT.”

Yaniv has a spe­cial place in his heart for old things: old chop­pers, some­what-old FXRS, and of course, old Fer­rari Mon­di­als, which serve a great way to get around town when he ab­so­lutely has to choose four wheels over two.

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