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Moto-Collectives

August 22, 2018
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All hope is not lost when you want to wrench on your bike, but have no place to do it.

Story by David G. Williams

This used to be a gambling place. Then some sort of brothel. It wasn’t that when we bought it, though.” And that is my introduction to Adrenalin Motorcycle Co-op, as told by co-owner Scott Collins.

Motorcycle co-ops, or do-it-yourself (DIY) garages, are springing up in urban areas across Canada. City riders often face a special challenge: where to work on their bikes. Not everyone can afford, or find, a garage and tools, or maybe you’re just a bit of a Knucklehead and don’t have the know-how to clean and sync those carbs. Artists have been sharing workspaces for years, and what are bikes, if not rolling works of art?

By necessity, riders are often resilient and have advanced problem-solving abilities (you know, like monkeys). Hence, the motorcycle co-op, or collective. These facilities are available by membership, though some have day rates, and provide space, lifts, tools and sometimes even expertise for those who need it. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here’s a look at what’s available in some of the big cities.

Victoria

Adrenaline MotorcyclesAdrenalin Motorcycle Co-op (adrenalinmotorcycle.com) is owned by Scott Collins, Steve Engbers and Jim Fields. The shop opened its doors in 2004 and is probably the oldest moto co-op in Canada. Although originally registered as a co-op, Adrenaline actually began as a regular motorcycle shop, where they initially worked on bikes, and sold gear and accessories, but then they branched out and began taking memberships. The co-op offers shop space, tools, lifts and advice if needed.

Adrenalin was conceived during a time when Collins was unemployed. He went to a seminar about starting a small business and heard the term “co-op” for the first time. Collins had friends who were always hanging around his garage working on bikes, so why not apply the co-op model and start a bike shop? There were some tough years, but things appear to be going strong now.

Co-owner Fields stresses that they have always been inclusive of all riders and genders, and thinks they probably have more female members than other co-ops. They even had a lounge with a pool table for members at one time, but it’s now used for storage. “No one ever went up there,” Fields says, adding they just wanted to hang out where the bikes are being worked on.

A popular feature is the “Pit Stop,” located right at the front of the service area, where members can just drop in if they need to do something quick that doesn’t require a lift. But if you prefer to get your bike up in the air, there are three lifts available, plenty of tools and professional advice and guidance if needed.

There’s even a bike-washing station for when you’re done working on your ride. But if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, they are a full-service shop as well.

Vancouver

Rising Sun MotorcyclesSamson Lang is a Red Seal-certified mechanic, and owner of Rising Sun Motorcycles (risingsunmotorcycles.ca). Rising Sun has been an all-makes, full-service and custom-build shop in East Vancouver for several years now. It also offers mobile services for emergencies and pre-purchase inspections.

But this year, under the management of Tori Tucker (who started out as a customer, restoring her dad’s BSA Victor Special), they’ve established the Vancouver Motorcycle Collective (VMC). You can find them at vanmotocoop.ca. VMC offers space and tools to those who need it. They have four lifts available for members to work on their bikes, with space in between for those who don’t mind working down low. And it gets very cozy in there once the wood stove gets to temperature. It’s like working on your bike at your cabin.

However, VMC also has a significant focus on education and training. As part of their membership, they offer an online motorcycle technician training program called Cyclepedia, in which students can learn at their own pace and earn a certificate. The program is quite extensive, with sections on engine, electrical and emissions. After each subsection is a test, and students must score 100 per cent to continue. As well, they offer monthly seminars on basic maintenance, and some ladies-only events.  

Being a full-service shop, VMC also sells parts (new and used), lubricants and can provide winter storage; also available for purchase is a variety of swag, including T-shirts, hoodies and work shirts.

Toronto

T's Cafe DIY Moto ShopMoto Revere (motorevere.com) is owned by Andrea Lothrop and Peter Redford, who refer to their space as a “DIY moto-garage.” They’re coming up on their second anniversary, and 75 per cent of their square footage is devoted to workshop space.

“Our demographics are all over the…

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