From designing an extensive line of motorcycle seats, fiberglass body kits, saddlebags and accessories for which he is known worldwide, to developing electric-powered vehicles before everybody else (remember the V-Twin powered 3-wheel named “the Merlin” and the single-seat enclosed “Sparrow Motorcycle”?), to furniture and even fitness equipment (at the time endorsed by bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger), Mike Corbin’s life is full of a multitude of trials, experimentations and eventually triumphs.
An AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee, he is an inventor (Mike and his companies have been awarded over 70 mechanical patents, trademarks and copyrights) turned businessman (he followed Harvard courses) and is well known in the industry for his ability to innovate, to adapt to new economic environments and to reinvent both himself, his products and companies.
In his vast office at the Corbin Pacific 80,000 square-foot facility in Hollister, California Mike Corbin displays some reminders, souvenirs, memorabilia of his long and rich career in the motorcycle industry. Like most pure designers and inventors, Mike likes to keep his office uncluttered. When he is not reading my news on his Apple iMac (had to plug this one…) the CEO of one of the world’s largest motorcycle seat and accessory manufacturers can contemplate his beautifully laid out wall of patents, front of him when sitting at his desk the artwork “Heart & Soul” by John Francis Marsh, a tribute to the development and launch of the Sparrow Electric Car by Corbin Motors.
When very young, Corbin started tinkering on motorcycles on a 1958 Triumph Bonneville and later a 1964 Norton Atlas. His first Snap-On toolbox (refinished by his in-house painter) lives in his office. A Bonneville hat is a reminder that in 1974 Mike experimented with electric motorcycles and built a bike that set a land speed record of 165.387 mph on the Utah Salt Flats.
Pictures and collectables dominate the file cabinets under the window. Left to right: Mike’s father, his four children and his wife Beverly. Among other souvenirs, commemorative wine glasses (I kept one, too) made for the Corbin Daytona Biketoberfest parties, probably some of the finest the movers and shakers of the custom motorcycle industry have ever been invited to…
I want to add that Corbin Pacific has always been a major sponsor and organizer of the Hollister Motorcycle Rally. And despite the fact that the event has been “officially” cancelled by the city 3 years ago, Mike and his crew still organize festivities including a bike show, a trade show and of course Corbin factory tours with discounts on all products and free installation of their goodies.
This year’events will take place Saturday, June 30, 2012 (the weekend before the Fourth of July). Maybe Mike will let you take another sneak peek at his office. More info at Corbin Pacific
Personal note: Mike, maybe it’s the perfect time to relaunch the Sparrow…