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I hope this message finds you well, present circumstances excluded. The statute of limitations to file suit on a verbal contract in California is two years. In order to prove that you had a verbal contract, you must show an offer (he said you could have the bike), acceptance (you accepted and used the bike) and consideration (you paid a lot of money to upgrade the bike and can show that).
You do have a viable breach of verbal contract claim in California to get at least the money back that you are owed, if not the bike as a whole. Since the separation took place 6 months ago when he took the bike, you have approximately 18 months left to sue for breach of contract.
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Those witnesses would help you prove the verbal contract. That is excellent evidence to prove your case. There are three elements that must be shown to the court in a verbal contract scenario: offer, acceptance and consideration. You have all three and if you sue him, should be able to get the bike back based on your agreement.
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Just checking to see if you have any additional questions or comments. I want you to be as comfortable as possible as you move forward on this issue. Thanks