We rode around with Gil Montoya of iconic American heritage jewelry house HOORSENBUHS and spoke with him about his favorite routes, social riding, and becoming one with the bike.
A good friend of our founder’s, Gil is all chain-link charm and gold-ring glory. With iced-up knuckles, Gil grips ‘n’ rips in style. Initially introduced to bikes through riding BMX bikes at a young age, the rider later found himself drawn to older, vintage motorcycles.
“It took me a while to find my crew of guys who were into vintage and chopper style bikes,” Gil noted. “It’s a different kind of ride with older bikes, it's more a sit back and cruise bike, which I’m more into. These types of bikes aren’t made for speed. It’s made to cruise and enjoy the ride. We do weekend trips together a few times a year where we head out to death valley and cruise and camp along the way.”
To Gil’s riding crew, they find comfort in the strength of comradery out on a journey:
“There are challenges that come up when riding, especially on older bikes, but the fear or anxiety is diminished when your boys are by your side to help with the problem. We work together to fix whatever needs fixing and continue on our way, together.”
Gil’s arsenal of bikes includes a 1976 shovelhead for cruising, a black 1991 FXR for zipping through the city, and a 2002 Electra Glide bagger for touring that he bought for his dad.
When asked about his favorite route, Gil championed the stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco, due to his fondness for the coastline: “California offers so much diversity for riders — ocean, desert, mountains. The climate is perfect here. It doesn't rain that much, so you can pretty much always be on a bike.” In addition to boasting a gorgeous and diverse landscape, California also is the only state to have legalized lane-splitting, which helps motorcyclists avoid overheating on older bikes without cooling systems.
The longest ride Gil has ever ridden was a trip from Los Angeles, through San Diego, cutting through Mexicali into Mexico, and down to San Felipe. “7 hours — you stop more on a bike. You have to stop to stretch the legs, have a puff or a drink, then you keep cruising. It’s such a rewarding experience on long haul trips. It takes a mental focus, and you work a lot more when you take a long trip, but it’s the price you pay when you get on the road. [The] reward is to get to the destination with your friends and enjoy the place you set out to.”
In regards to the core essence of what it means to hop on the back of a bike, Gil waxes:
Gil, like most riders, has struck at motorcycling’s meditative soul: “It’s a moment to get into your thoughts and process what you’re going through. I do a lot of my thinking on a bike and it’s nice because there are no distractions like your phone. There’s something really great about riding on the open road with just your thoughts.
Your thinking becomes wide-open like the road. And you wind in and out of your thoughts like you wind in and out on the bike. It’s a reminder to stay present. It makes you feel alive and [feel] complete freedom.”