Fine Custom Bikes
Cerberus Motorcycles at The Egyptian Garage
by Katherine Sweetman
The Egyptian Garage is a handsome 1920’s concrete building with a uniquely… um, Egyptian facade (classic example of Egyptian Revival architecture). For one thing, faux columns with Pharaoh heads line the sides of the sand color structure that’s somewhat reminiscent of The Great Pyramids. The building’s interior is a large, open 4,000 square foot space with beautiful high arced ceilings, exposed wooden beams and an enormous skylight. Natural light filters through the windows and bay doors (when open) and light up the space that now houses an innovative new motorcycle start-up called Cerberus Motorcycles. Cerberus– in mythology, is the three headed dog figure that guards the gates to the underworld, but this garage (guarded only by two friendly pet dogs), is a custom motorcycle repair and assembly shop complete with eight motorcycle work bays, a separate engine building space, a metal working space, an electrical work station, an upholstery sewing area, motorcycle storage area, and a lot of comfortable hang out-space. These guys love motorcycles. That’s evident. The bikes line the walls and stand out like artwork on pedestals in the work bays. The space is just a fun place to hang out. And the men responsible for this motorcycle haven are co-owners are Dave Hargreaves and Erik Borowitz.
Dave is the shops’ master mechanic. With over 27 years experience working with motorcycles, the man can do just about anything. He has run service shops and worked with design teams for such companies such as Harley, Honda and Confederate Motorcycles. Dave’s experience is matched by Erik’s passion, hard work, and love of motorcycles. For the past few years Erik had dedicated his free time to designing, building, and customizing motorcycles.
After hunting around San Diego for months, they finally found their dream building at the City Heights landmark known as the Egyptian Garage. Although Cerberus Motorcycles has only been in this remarkable space since September (with official Grand Opening in December) the space is already buzzing with activity.
The first thing to know is that this is not a typical motorcycle repair shop. The front page of their website clearly states:
Looking for a service shop? That is not us. Become a member and do it yourself. We offer you a workbench, a lift, use of our tools, guidance, and much more…
One of the main attractions here at Cerberus is that YOU can work on your own bike as well as LEARN to work on your own bike. And, if you become a member, you get access to not only the shop but to a whole motorcycle community. And you get to hang out here. This, for me, is the best part.
“People who are mechanically inclined, that wanna learn how to do their own maintenance, we provide a bay, a work bench and tools, guidance and also discount on parts,” says co-ower Erik Borowitz. “But, yes, we can also do it for you.”
Admittedly, most of the work they currently do is for people who drop-off their bikes, but if it’s for a custom build, Erik and Dave work directly with the customers to design what they want. If it’s maintenance and restoration work they will show the customer exactly what the work entails — they will show and explain the mechanical procedure (if the customer is interested). And get them involved.
“We don’t just build them something,” says master mechanic Dave Hargreaves says. “We collaborate with them to develop the product they are after — we discuss the feasibility, the reality of the project, then build it.”
“If they’re not involved hands-on directly with the build of the motorcycle, at least they’ve got some input on it.”
The co-owners both admit it’s counter intuitive, for them, to want the customers to do work they could pay to have done, but Dave and Erik would prefer to show people how to work on repairs than do it themselves.
“We steer away from doing things like oil changes and minor adjustments,” Erik says. “If someone wants a simple tune up, I have a book over there that tells you how to do it, and I have the tools to loan you, and the expertise to guide you in the right direction.”
They both stress the importance of knowing how to work on one’s own motorcycle and knowing how a motorcycle actually works.
“If it’s older than 10 years, most of the dealerships won’t touch them,” Dave says, while shaking his head. “If you own and ride an older bike, you need to know how to work on it, and that’s part of the reason we’re doing what we’re doing, so we can teach people.”
The most exciting thing Cerberus Motorcycles does is not maintenance and repairs but the custom building and restoration of older motorcycles to turn them into completely different, completely customized, completely unique new rides.
“You could go get a thirty thousand dollar stock Harley, or you could spend a fraction of that and get a fully customized motorcycle that’s built however you want,” Erik says.
With the exception of one large Harley Davidson, all the bikes in the active work bays look sleeker and lighter than most motorcycles on the road. They are largely dark, matte black in color with exposed shiny engine parts and custom sewn seat covers. They look cool, they look fast, they look classy, and they definitely look custom.
Don’t worry scooter and moped owners, you will not be turned away.
“If it’s got two wheels and a motor, yeah,” Dave says. “We’ll work on it.”
Cerberus Motorcycles is developing its own unique style. The trained eye could potentially start to spot motorcycles customized here. Wheel conversions are a regular project at the shop. The heavy and outdated stock wheels are taken off and replaced with a newer style of wheels and tires. Then upgrades to modern braking and suspension systems are possible. The wider, stickier, tires get better performance, better acceleration and better braking. The shop has developed their own custom wheel conversion kits, bracketing kits, and mounts.
They are also creating custom seat pans and in-shop, hand-sewn, custom upholstered seats. Seamstress, Jennifer Gardner, creates seats as well as tool bags, and other one of a kind items for the bikes.
“Restore is not the right word for what we do here,” Erik says. “Because we are not going to make it like it originally was — our bikes perform better, are more reliable, and look classier.”
“We rebuild engines, we give the bikes better performance, we put modern Sport Bike wheels on them, modernize the suspension and braking systems, and we completely update the electrical systems, we line the tanks so that they don’t rust, we paint, do the body work, rebuild seats from scratch, redo gauges, and kinda simplify things.”
Ready to take the next step and take your bike in or get a bike to work on? Join them for Moto Mondays.
Cerberus Motorcycles has a weekly meet and greet, every Monday after 5pm (running generally 5-9pm). If you’re interested in joining the shop, having your bike worked on, or in getting to know this shop and all it has to offer, you can stop by on Monday for an informal information session.
“Sometimes it’s just us working on bikes, sometimes it’s a full-blown Barbecue,” Erik says. “It just depends on what we’re doing and how busy we are, but yeah, anyone should feel encouraged to come down, throw something on the grill and share a beer.”
You can of course also contact shop via:
Phone: (619) 980-9377
see more photos from The Grand Opening Event: