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Local business: It's a labour of love at RNR Custom Cycle

In this month's local business feature, writer Troy Bridgeman finds out why building and working on Harley Davidsons is more than a business for this Guelph shop
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RNR Custom Cycle owner Ryan Robinson with shop staff Jennifer Tychynski and Joel Allen. Troy Bridgeman for GuelphToday

The owner of RNR Custom Cycle in the city’s east end has made a career out of building award-winning, custom motorcycles and when he retires he plans to keep on doing it.

“It was more like a hobby or a passion and I turned the hobby into a business,” said Ryan Robinson. “Hopefully I can finish out being successful and then make it a hobby again. That’s my goal.”

Robinson’s custom bikes have won a number of high profile awards.  One of his designs that celebrated the original six NHL teams was featured on the television show Canadian Chopper Challenge in 2004.  It sold at auction for $50,000 and the proceeds were donated to the Special Olympics.

“We build motorcycles but our job is to repair and service motorcycles and we only work on Harley Davidsons,” he said.  “We sell a lot of bikes but most custom bikes we build are already sold before we start building them.”

The International Bike Builders Association has certified him as a Master Bike Builder and his reputation for quality work has earned him loyal customers across the Tri-City area including the Waterloo Regional Police Service and divisions of the OPP. 

Robinson started RNR Custom Cycle in 1996 but riding and working on motorcycles has been a big part of his life since he was a kid.

He was born in Kitchener the youngest and only son of Ray and Margaret Robinson.  He has an older sister Barb. The family moved to Guelph shortly after he was born and in 1971 when he was nine years old they settled in Puslinch.

He went to College Heights for high school then to Conestoga College to begin his apprenticeship as a car mechanic.

He worked for a while as a car mechanic then in 1989 he took a job at a Harley Davidson dealership in Shallow Lake Ontario owned by Bob McKay.

“That’s where I did my apprenticeship, in the Harley world,” said Robinson.

In 1992 Robinson returned to Guelph and started working as a mechanic for local businessman Emmerson Turney. 

“I worked for Emmerson and used part of his shop to work on bikes on the side and it got to the point where I was working more on the side than I was working for him,” said Robinson. “He just said to me one day, open your own shop and he gave me the spot to do it. That’s how I got started.”

He opened his first shop at 150 Victoria Road.

“I was there for three or four years then I moved over to Suburban in Durose’s building,” he said.  “I leased that for probably six years and then I bought this corner, renovated it and here we are.”

It was through Turney and his wife Lisa that Robinson met Jennifer Tychynski.

“I’m his sidekick,” said Tychynski.  “I’m the better sidekick.”

The two have been together four years and have a farm in Ariss with 18 horses. 

“I run a little rodeo circuit,” said Tychynski.  “I work here full time and I work at the farm full time and I do the rodeo circuit.”

They divide their time between the shop and the farm but Robinson is happier on a Hog than a horse and often spends between 80 to 100 hours a week at the shop.

“It’s a great business when you love what you do,” he said  “But it is like anything else. You’ve got to work and this time of year we get crazy busy. Even though we have pretty much overgrown where we are I have no plans to expand. I am happy with what I’ve got.”

RNR Custom Cycle

Established: June 1996

Owner: Ryan Robinson

108 Beaumont Crescent

Guelph, ON

N1E 6B2

519 821-8666

rnrcustomcycle@bellnet.ca

www.rnrcustomcycle.com

 



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Troy Bridgeman

About the Author: Troy Bridgeman

Troy Bridgeman is a multi-media journalist that has lived and worked in the Guelph community his whole life. He has covered news and events in the city for more than two decades.
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