40,000 Friends are Doing the Ton
All Tim Aysan wanted was a logistically smooth method of lining up ride days with his core group of Toronto-based friends. He thought starting a forum-based website would be the best way to do it and he registered the domain name dotheton.com. Over a decade later, Aysan has more than 40,000 (registered) friends, 100,000 unique monthly visitors and 800,000 posts of content. None of it was planned and when he first hit 1,000 members he thought to himself, “Really?! There’s 1,000 other people out there who like the same kind of stuff my friends and I do?”
Modeled after the Honda SOHC forum, DTT quickly became much more than an organizational tool for ride meetups. It connected a community of like-minded riders/builders who were (at the time) on the fringes of an already niche industry on the comeback; café racers. Soon, motorcyclists from all over the world were swapping stories, how-to tips, parts, pics and documenting their builds from start to finish.
“We became a tool for people to connect with a larger group of friends they otherwise wouldn’t know,” Aysan said. That kid working in the gravel driveway in his small town might be the only one around in his area. He can come to us and he’s part of our family.”
Dime City’s Co-Founder, Herm Narciso was one of those people. Herm (username: “Herm”) registered on March 11, 2008, 13 months after the site went live and made his first post about two weeks later while he was searching for parts for a basket case CB450 he was rebuilding at the time.
“I didn’t know much about Café Racers then and DTT really unlocked the doors for me,” Herm said. “The site had a wealth of information and I found myself spending every free minute I had learning about the genre and how to build them.”
It was on the DTT forum where producers for “Café Racer TV” first put out feelers to find stories and characters for promising motorcycle builders. At the time, Dime City Cycles was an idea in the heads of two entrepreneurs but because of a niche web forum, dreams collided, contact info was exchanged and DCC became a recurring shop in the show’s five season run.
While the popularity of café racers and vintage custom bike building grew, Do The Ton latched on and became the one place where both wannabe and established builders could convene. When Aysan realized members were documenting entire builds – some over many months, even years – posting dozens of photos of every step, every cut and grind, parts lists and more, he decided to start a contest. In 2009, he launched Bike of the Month. The prize? The winner’s bike featured on the headline banner of the site.
Builds had to be nominated by someone other than the builder and after a round of member voting, a winner was declared. In 2016 Dime City Cycles became the title sponsor of the contest and for the first time since its inception, the contest has more than bragging rights at stake (although, those are very important). Monthly winners get DCC swag and $100 DCC gift card and their bike featured on DCC’s social channels, website and weekly newsletters (enhanced bragging rights!).
Aysan hasn’t quit his telecommunications job just yet but he remains committed to keeping the site alive, open and free. The hundreds of thousands of posts require tremendous server space and he’s thankful for the support of his sponsors who help pay for the associated costs. Being able to host the members’ build photos means they will always be there. In fact, here’s Herm’s first build thread from nine years ago (sorry Herm) and Aysan even has a build that he’s been documenting for over nine years.
Although café racers are still the core, the site is much more than one genre. It even has popular threads that are well beyond motorcycles.
“Taking something apart and putting it back together, fixing, improving and bringing back to life is what it’s all about,” Aysan said. “It’s great because it’s now a part of you, you’re intimate with it. It’s your creation. Even if it looks the same when you put it back together. You did it.”
DTT members have taken their virtual relationships offline as well. Aysan has lost track of the number of stories he’s heard where a DTT member broke down on a road trip and, following a call for help, was picked up in a truck and trailer by another member and assisted back onto their journey. The annual Ace Corner at the Barber Vintage Festival is a who’s who of DTT members.
“Many of the original members from the early days are still very active on the site and continue to give their support and encouragement to anyone who needs it,” Herm said. “It’s at Barber where you see what DTT is made of. The camaraderie, family atmosphere, and brotherhood among members of DTT is absolutely the real deal and is what makes DTT so unique.”
And as proud as Dime City is of its staff’s ability to answer questions for its customers, we know where to go when we’re stumped: Do The Ton.