Tracy and Kellie Schooler found success when he started a business in Brownsburg restoring older Honda mini bikes.
By Stephanie Dolan
Tracy Schooler in the business of rebuilding memories. He owns and operates Lil’ Bikes Restoration in Brownsburg.
After riding mini bikes as a child, he and his family developed a passion for them. Now, six days a week Schooler restores two different models of old Hondas, the CT70 and the Z50.
“People should know that if they want a little Honda mini bike that they had as a child, they don’t have to find one themselves,” he said. “We will provide one for them, or we will redo the bike that they have. We’ll make anything happen or make any dream come true. We carry the attitude at Lil’ Bikes that ‘Yes, we can do that.’”
Hoosier born, Schooler and his wife Kellie now live in Zionsville. They returned to Indiana in 2016 after he spent a decade in South Carolina as a PGA golf pro in Hilton Head.
Schooler began playing golf at age 42 and became a PGA pro at 49.
“I loved it,” he said. “It was a great way to make a living, to teach people the beautiful game of golf.”
Once back in Indiana, winters meant Schooler couldn’t teach golf year round.
“I was looking for something to occupy my time,” he said. “I purchased a bike and restored it in my garage. I was suddenly in such demand that I moved to a storage unit, but with no electricity, heating or cooling, that didn’t work out.”
On Aug. 1, 2018 Schooler moved the business to Northfield Drive Brownsburg and started Lil’ Bikes Restoration among the plethora of racing businesses along that stretch of road.
His small Hendricks County business has taken off in a big way.
“It’s been a year, and it’s going very, very well,” he said. “Better than expected actually.”
Even though Schooler is self-taught, his skills are something to be reckoned with.
“The more you do something, the more you familiarize yourself with it,” he said. “I call it refining the process. It seems I learn something new about every day in this business. We’re going on customers wants and needs. We tailor to what fits best to the client.”
Only a handful of shops like Schooler’s exist in the United States.
Lil’ Bikes Restoration is not a dealer, but in addition to repairing bikes that already have owners, the company does repair and sell the bikes.
“We restore them for people from San Diego to Maine and from Seattle to Savannah,” Schooler said. “They get shipped in here, or we pick them up, or the client brings them in.”
He finds these bikes by word of mouth, eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
“I love to make people’s day,” he said. “It’s great to be able to take their bike that they’ve got a passion for but don’t have the means or knowhow to refurbish and help them rebuild that. The look on their faces when they see it and remember when they were 12, it’s like they’re a kid again.”
Schooler said he feels blessed beyond measure to come to work and have something different to do every day.
“You’re doing something different something creative and something that will impact someone else in a great way,” he said.
He’s also in the business of giving back.
Recently, Schooler refurbished a minibike that became the pace bike for the Making Strides of Hendricks County breast cancer awareness walk. After the walk the bike was put up for auction with a portion of the proceeds going back to Making Strides.
That’s pretty incredible,” Austin said. “That’s really generous,” said Bev Austin, Making Strides volunteer. “I don’t know how long it takes to restore a bike like that. He said it was a 1969, so I’m assuming it wasn’t originally in the best shape. To do that work and donate it was significant.”
Lil’ Bikes Restoration
1652 E. Northfield Drive, Brownsburg
Tracy Schooler recently refurbished a pink Honda minibike. Decked out with pink breast cancer awareness ribbons and a license plate that reads, “Check your bumps for lumps,” it served as the pace bike for the Making Strides of Hendricks County breast cancer awareness walk Oct. 5.
That bike was put up for auction, and at last count bids were up to nearly $3,000.
“My wife Kellie asked me one day if she could design a bike and could have a frame all her own and start with a bare clean slate,” he said. “The next thing I know they’re doing special effects on the tank and making it pink.”
He delivered the frame to the paint shop, and she took over from there creating a breast cancer awareness-themed ride.
Kellie Schooler chose to support the Hendricks County Making Strides Against Breast Cancer organization. Her aunt Boone had cancer when she was a teenager, and that nudged her to support the cause.
“She fought it. and she was a survivor,” she said. “She raised me pretty much. I was very close with her. Going through that back in the day before all the modern stuff we have now, it was horrific. Surviving that, just the treatment alone is incredible. They weren’t quite as gentle back in the day. The medicine has come a long way.”
The experience with Making Strides was like being a part of a big family for Kellie. She rode the bike for the first lap to start the walk.
“I didn’t know a single person at the walk, but it felt like I was family,” she said. “People were excited to see that little bike. It’s definitely one of a kind.”
Kellie Schooler leads the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Avon’s Washington Township Park Oct. 5. The bike is up for auction.
Getting to know Tracy Schooler
Who or what inspires you? People who strive to be better at what they do every day, to refine their niche in life, people who are always trying to better themselves, who want to be better.
What do you do to relax? I enjoy my wife and family and our dog. I enjoy just taking day trips with my family and being able to relax that way.
What are you currently reading or have you most recently read? It was a book on running, and I can’t tell you who wrote it.
What is your favorite movie? I like “The Green Mile.”
What is your favorite TV show? One of my favorite TV shows was “Cheers.”
What is the secret to your success? Being well grounded and putting the Lord first in our lives and by seeing the best of everybody’s good side. I don’t ever take anything for granted. I appreciate people for who and what they are. I don’t try to find fault. Putting the Lord first sets you up for success.
(Photos by Rick Myers)