Leo O’Reilly, my uncle and the inspiration for Rockridge Two Wheels, left this world on July 10, 2017.
He opened Leo O’Reilly Motorcycles on Dorset Street in Dublin in 1975 and, after business hours, could usually be found in the shop working on racing machinery or restorations. Passion, not profit, drove him.
A true engineer, the two stroke racers would drop off their cranks for rebuilding and everyone knew his engine and wheel building talents. When he got his first lathe, it took pride of place in a busy workshop. Close to the tea. When CCM asked him to prep some engines for the Paris Dakar, I remember him opening up oil passages in the blocks to improve lubrication in the desert heat. They were the only privateer bikes to finish that year. I don’t think he was ever in a desert.
He had no interest in Harleys but appreciated the workmanship by the customisers. Larry Mullen Jr. gave him initialed drum sticks for taking care of his HD. I think it was the only one to grace the shop.
He loved all things Italian, particularly racing motorcycles, cars and opera. Racing was in his blood and he raced a TZ 350 on the roads and later his meticulously restored Duke in classic events. The TZ was always perfectly turned out with ‘Leo O’Reilly Motorcycles’ emblazoned on the fairing and my cousin Declan still rides it in classic events. Up to recently, he was always a fixture at the road races in the south of Ireland, usually working as a scrutineer or offering free advice.
Years ago Kenny Roberts visited the shop and Leo always said that was akin to the Pope himself dropping by. There's a picture below of ex-world champion, Phil Read, in the shop.
He was also the only person in Ireland to foresee the post-Celtic Tiger economic crash, but that’s another story.
You’ll be missed Leo. Thanks for the inspiration.
Rockridge Two Wheels will be closing early today, Thursday July 13, in memory of a great man.
Unbeatable pricing, with special financing available. Free bay area delivery!