As of June 1, 2010, Steve Wessels and his wife Gail, both long time residents of the Lewis-Clark Valley, took ownership of Mac's Cycle. During ownership of Tisco, Inc., a successful family business in Lewiston for over 40 years, Steve and Gail have decided to get into something "new and fun". After 7 wonderful years under Larry Ashton's leadership, a new page in the history of Mac's Cycle will be written with the Wessels family by providing great customer service and support for all of Mac's Cycles' powersport enthusiasts!
Larry Ashton, his family and staff became the current owners of Mac's Cycle in 2003. They have continued to build upon the success of the prior owners, providing bikers and powersport enthusiasts in the Lewis-Clark valley a professional and friendly gathering place at Mac's Cycle.
Following in his mentor's footsteps, Gary Smith took over from Allan McClain when he retired. Gary expanded Mac's Cycle to include the current lineup of BMW, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ski-Doo/Sea-Doo/Can-Am. Gary was later joined by his wife Peggy and together with their staff they enjoyed over a decade of business success and biking and snowmobiling fun with their customers before 'retiring' and selling Mac's to Larry Ashton.
Lifelong Biker, 70, Won't Be Idling
This article was printed in the Lewiston Tribune - January 15, 1989
When a man could ride a motorcycle without getting oil spots on his shirt, that's when the image of motorcycling began to change. So says Allan J. McClain, and he should know, for he has spent much of his adult life on or near motorcycles.
McClain is retiring, sort of, nearly 50 years after founding the business that eventually became Mac's Cycle, the Clarkston business with which are motorcyclists have become so familiar over the year. (Gary D. Smith, a Mac's Cycle employee for 14 years, who has bought the business, says he will retain the name.)
"The whole image of motorcyclists has been greatly changed. Used to be that of a bike bum, grease on their pants and so on," McClain says. "The machines now - a guy could ride downtown with a white shirt on and not have oil spots on it from the chain. Kind of changes the whole image of motorcycling."
Tall and slim, McClain looks younger than his 70 years. He is a man of few words, measuring them out carefully and thoughtfully, and with an infectious smile which he flashes at times, such as when he mentions on of the "honeys" he used to know.
In 1940, McClain said when he was struggling with a Clarkston motorcycle delivery business which hauled "anything we could get on," as well as a cycle shop, there were so few motorcycles in the area that he learned to tell each one by its sound. "We used to laugh about it - a motorcycle would go by and we'd tell who it was without even looking at it," he says. "We knew the sounds of each other's machines."
The numbers increased in the early 1950s, specially after the British bikes began to come into the market.
But motorcycling really did not become the popular sport it is today until the Japanese introduced their models in the 1960s, McClain says.
"Motorcycling wasn't really taking on since about 1960 when the Honda people came in and did a whole lot of advertising, making small machines anybody could handle," he said. "The riding ability has been greatly increased ... they handle alot smoother, a lot quieter."
But, says McClain, it was another machine that started people riding longer distances. "A Kawasaki Z-1 (which was introduced in 1973) started a lot of people riding. That's when people started traveling," he said.
In the 1940s the average distances people traveled on motorcycles were much less than they are these days.
Some popular runs for Lewiston-Clarkston Valley motorcyclists were to Walla Walla and Spokane, with Missoula, Boise, Portland and Seattle being common destinations too. "It wasn't too uncommon the run 250 to 300 miles a day," McClain said.
One of the popular activities for motorcyclists was hill climbing, with a hill off Lewiston's Mill Road designated for the purpose. Some of the climbs were organized by the Lewiston Clark Motorcycle Club, which has since ceased to exist, he said. They attracted riders from other towns as well.
McClain moved to this area during the Depression years from Colorado, where his parents had a homestead. He first went to live with his grandparents, at Kooskia, later moving to Clarkston where he attended the high school from 1937 to 1947.
He bought a motorcycle shop in 1940, at the same time that he was running his deliver service. "It was just a little backyard shop when I got it," he said.
The place, on Diagonal street, was extensively remodeled after he moved his shop, and now houses the Green Mill tavern.
He sold about half a dozen Indian brand motorcycles at the shop before he closed it. A 1937 Indian Chief, he recalls, with a 74 cubic inch engine (about 1200 cc), sold for $385.
McClain said he closed his delivery business and went to work as a mechanic for a while at the airport, which was then located at Clarkston by the Snake River and was managed by Zimmerly Air Transport.
He joined the U.S. Navy in 1941, and set about trying to put together his motorcycle shop again after he returned in 1946.
"There were very few motorcycles that were running ... everyone wanted a new one," he says. "I ordered machines as fast as I could and got one or two at a time."
The motorcycle supply situation began to improve about 1950, he said, especially because "the boys" had brought word back from Europe of British machines, and they also began to enter the market about that time. "The popular one that came over was Triumph ... we had BSA," he said.
In 1953, though, it was time for some business rethinking again, because the Indian factory closed down. "When Indian went out in 1953 I got AJS / Matchless, Triumph, Vincent, Francis Barnet ... " McClains rattles off a list of names that reads like the history of motorcycling.
The shop, which moved to its present location on Bridge Street in 1967, acquired BMW and Kawasaki agencies, selling Ski-doo snowmobiles in winter which, he says, helps maintain the cash flow."
Is Mac, which is what people know him by, really going to retire? From his business, yes- the sale was effective Jan.3 - but from his machines, no.
One of McClain's passions has been the restoration of old motorcycles, primarily Indians, and he intends to continue with the work in a warehouse across the street from the shop he used to own.
The cycles include half a dozen Indians, a Vincent, a Triumph and a three-wheel Indian that he used in his delivery business so many years ago.
Gleaming richly, many of them are stacked ona shelf in the warehouse. Occasionally he will take a few to exhibit before an admiring audience.
McClain appears to be almost the archetypal motorcyclist, a quiet, taciturn rider whose eyes continually seek the horizon.
Poetry doesn't come easily to him, but he did manage a little when asked why he rides. "Take it down the highway, breeze going by, there's places you would go into with a motorcycle you wouldn't go with a car," he said. "Leaves a different attitude about things."
Motorcycle riders know there is not much doubt about that. -- end article