A few years back I took part in the inaugural Quail Lodge Motorcycle Tour. The first night at dinner one of the riders, a distinguished-looking gentleman, showed up wearing an exquisite tie. When he introduced himself as Robert Talbott it only took me a second to put the fine silk tie with the name (My father was an impeccable dresser and always wore Talbotts).
As it turned out our riding buddy was in fact, Robert Talbott, of the famed Talbott Ties.
I was intrigued that the man representing his family’s business of cultured men’s attire was flogging it around with us on California back roads. As it turned out Robert has quite a colorful history on two wheels. Over the next four nights at dinner-at which Talbott showed up wearing a succession of beautiful silk ties-I got to the know man a little, and learn about his passion for motorcycles.
Like so many of his generation Mr. Talbott got his start on a step-through Honda Dream, which he shared with a friend. A Suzuki 125 and a Sachs followed, along with a Yamaha DT-1 in 1968. Then came a four-year stint racing motocross, eventually competing in the Can-Am Series as well as taking a run up the famous Pike’s Peak.
In 1972 the main Talbott plant-which Robert’s father had started in 1950-burned to the ground and Robert, an only child, decided to come aboard the family business full-time and help re-build. When his father passed away Robert took the reins of the company. Like so many of us Robert’s focus and devotion to work inadvertently detoured him from his first love, motorcycles. He wouldn’t ride a motorcycle for thirty years.
Since that time Talbott Ties has expanded into fine shirts and suits, which carry on the tradition of quality that the Talbott name has come to represent. However, it was explained that the key to Talbott goods is affordable luxury, adding that although Talbott is a premium brand, they are not in rarefied air.
Talbott diversified and started Talbott Winery in 1981, a large boutique winery on 550 acres called Sleepy Hollow in the Santa Lucia Highlands (just over the mountain from Carmel, where the flagship Talbott Tie store is situated).
Like so many motorcycle enthusiasts that step away from riding to devote themselves to family and business, Robert started getting a hankering to get back on a bike. Shortly after the new millennium he picked up the sport that had given him so much joy in his earlier years. Robert now rides a BMW as his everyday rider but has a healthy collection of machines that carry significance from his past. His two beautifully restored BSAs are right where they deserve to be, the Talbott living room.