LaPlace technician takes the road less traveled

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2012



LAPLACE – One day, when Michael Hall was 8 years old, he and his friends took a shortcut home through a junkyard and came across a broken down minibike. They pushed it back to Hall’s house, where he asked his father if he could keep it.

He gave his blessing, but with a condition.

“’You’ve gotta get it running if we’re going to keep it,’ he told me,” Hall said.

Hall and his father, Javers, worked together and successfully fixed the bike. Hall also successfully discovered his passion.

Few are so lucky to blend what they love to do in life with what puts food on the table, but Hall can count himself among them. Two years ago, he opened Rasta Cycles, a specialized shop for Harley Davidson motorcycles, in LaPlace. The shop was established, Hall said, as he found a need for motorcycle riders to get their bikes up and running in a timely fashion.

“What Jiffy Lube does for automobiles, I do for motorcycles,” said Hall. “Something as simple as an oil change can take 3-5 days in a shop that doesn’t specialize (in motorcycles). I’ve set up my shop to get bikes in and out, to get people back riding within a day.”

Hall spent nine years as a master technician with Harley Davidson dealerships in the metro area before setting up his own shop for motorcycle maintenance.

A graduate of Southern Mississippi and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, Hall said the name of his shop was influenced by the Rastafarian belief of “one love,” or that no matter what traits or beliefs separate people, they can unite behind a common passion.

“With my shop, it’s motorcycles. Everyone that shares a love of riding can come together. They should be able to ride,” he said.

At first, Hall said that he had to overcome some obstacles to get his shop off the ground. While he had holdover clientele from his days as a master technician at Harley Davidson, bringing in new customers proved difficult in the early days.

“A lot of independent shops have bad reputations for not doing the right things, keeping the bikes too long,” he said. “That was hard to conquer. But after a while, word of mouth started to spread. And it became one big snowball.”

As part of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Hall does his share of charity work, concentrating his efforts on helping younger children in a mentoring capacity.

“You just try to help them stay on the right side of the tracks,” he said. “Help them stay on the right route to achieve success.

“When they see the motorcycles and ask me questions, and they find out that I went to college, I was in the military, they look at me and say, ‘Wow.’ They see the motorcycle aspect and they think, ‘Ok, it’s cool to go to college.’”

While the 8-year-old Hall’s exchange with his father on that aforementioned day sparked his passion, a later conversation between the two reinforced his path to Rasta Cycles.

During a vacation to Disney World, the younger Hall asked his father, “Instead of taking a vacation, can I live a vacation?”

“He told me, ‘I don’t see why not,’” Hall recalled. “Later in my life, I sat down and asked myself what I wanted to do. And I wrote everything down on a legal pad. I loved motorcycles and working on them … and soon my dream became a reality. I’m living a vacation, each and every day,” he said. “That’s the best way I can describe it.”