Big Wheel

For the last few years, “Big Wheel” has been in storage, like many of MOCA’s large-scale installations. But a few months ago, the bike that powers the piece was detached from the mother ship and delivered to Leif Lewis, the motorcycle mechanic who’d been commissioned to fix the bike after decades of abuse.

Lewis, 39, is the designer of high-performance Wagner Lewis clutches, and it was the Benelli’s slippage-prone clutch that was in dire need of replacement, having been tortured by dozens of gallery and museum employees who had to hop on the bike and ride it every four hours to keep the piece going. A native Scotsman whose sedate Valley Village home belies his own colorful history, Lewis is a former motorcycle stunt man who, in the late ’80s, was part of Europe’s mechanical Circus Archaos.

“This is so me,” Lewis said of the project, which not only involved replacing the clutch on the motorcycle but honing the cylinder, rebuilding the shifter, cleaning out the oil pump, un-gumming the carburetor, replacing a blown headlamp fuse and sourcing a vintage battery.


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