Threepence is revving up motorcycle culture in the Mile High City. Owners Alex Krill and Wesley Case are Denver natives who've been running Threepence for nearly five years. They started the business in a private shop that was closed to the public, and in February finally opened a store at 1351 West Alameda Avenue (at Pecos). There's a boutique in the front, a workshop in the back — and motorcycles everywhere.
"When we got the building, it had been empty for the last twenty years," Case says. "It only took about a month and a half to remodel the space, but another three months in waiting for interior electric and business permits from the city."
In addition to fixing bikes, Threepence has another mission: to create a stronger community within Denver's bike culture. "We've been teaming up with a shop called Bolt," says Krill. "Because it's not a competition, we want to build a community. Denver really does have a great motorcycle scene; it's just so separate. It's not intimidating — fuck that. We don't have any secrets. Threepence is like an open kitchen."
An open kitchen that smells like gasoline. The large hall "is always really fumey," Case admits. "Especially that Honda; it's been spilling gas all day." The odor doesn't bother the clients or friends hanging out on the sofa, drinking PBR (the shop's sponsored beer), shooting the shit and occasionally petting
Case's dog, Satchell.
While the partners have created a cool retail area and a welcoming space to hang out, they put their passion into vintage motorcycle restoration. Depending on the bike and the parts needed, some repairs could take weeks to complete — but if they have the piece on hand, tuneups and small repairs can be done in a day. "This one is just supposed to be a fast tuneup, and it turned into a two-week long pain in the ass," Krill jokes of one job.
The difficulty of finding vintage bike parts makes Threepence's work particularly challenging. Krill and Case collect old-school bikes whenever and wherever they can — through friends getting rid of their old bikes, clients, estate sales and everywhere in between. If an old Indian, Honda or Triumph motorcycle falls into their hands, they will undoubtedly find a use for it.
"There's really only one shop that does something similar to what we do — that's Bolt," Krill says. "They're a boutique. We work together, really, sourcing items and sending customers to each other. As far as having retail and working on vintage bikes, we're the only place that does both.
"It's hard to find people who will work on vintage bikes," continues Krill. "You're undoing years of half-assed mechanics doing work on older bikes. Finding parts is harder. Most shops won't do anything over ten to fifteen years. Pre-2000, most shops won't work on it."
His oldest bike? "I had a 1954 motorcycle for a while," Krill recalls. "It was a weird Italian bike, so it was even harder to find parts for. This was a 1954 — I mean, over seventy years of maintenance and wear and tear."
His favorite bike? "It's got to be the bubble shield, once I'm not terrified of riding it," Krill says, pointing to a red bike in the front. "I took like five years building it, and I still have yet to ride it. I don't know why. It's called an MV Agusta. I have another that's just like it that's my day bike. That one just sits there and looks pretty."
Threepence held a grand-opening party in February. "It's been pretty crazy," Case says. "Since the grand opening, we've had two bikes a day get dropped off, and then it's been a bike a day since."
They don't fix just bikes, either — they have their hands in everything. Case even makes the custom helmet racks for Threepence. And along with restoring bikes and building equipment, Case and Krill are professional flat-track racers currently sponsored by Triumph brand British Customs.
"We race flat-track, mainly hooligan flat-track. Hooligan flat-track is full-sized street-legal bikes, but on a flat track," Case explains. "It's like Nascar, but it's an oval track made out of dirt. You're on a motorcycle and drifting around the whole time. Flat-track racing is really intense. So we're spearheading the hooligan races this year. May 7 is the first ride of the season, and they go all summer. So we're doing that, sponsoring some riders and getting the team a little bit bigger."
See Threepence at the Hooligan Races on Saturday, May 7, at the start of Colorado Flat Track Races at IMI Motorsports Park at 5074 Summit Boulevard; races begin at 5:30 p.m. Visit Threepence at 1351 West Alameda Avenue.