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The Motomethod Story

Posted on January 22, 2012 by Scott in Video. 66 comments

This beautifully shot vid was sent to us the other day by the Zenga Bros, who are the director brothers behind this great little story. It’s essentially about a motorcycle repair shop in Vancouver called Motomethod who are trying a different business model – which seems to be working. Motomethod call themselves a ‘community motorcycle repair shop’, which means you can rent a bay and work on your bike, use their tools and even get help and advice from the mechanics. They charge around $100 a year for a membership, which seems pretty reasonable when you think a mechanic can charge that per hour to fix your bike. If you don’t want to do it yourself, they’re also a full blown motorcycle repair shop, and will work on pretty much any kind of motorcycle. The idea came about when Paul Malowany and Simon Travers decided they wanted to fulfill their dream of owning a motorcycle repair shop. With limited startup funds, the duo pretty much begged, borrowed and stole the equipment needed to make it happen. Their idea seems to be paying off and has sparked a lot of interest in the local Vancouver community. The Motomethod clientele couldn’t be more diverse, ranging from 16-year-olds to seniors, including some veterans and even some grandmothers. With space in big cities costing so much coin these days, we think this could work in many places. What do you think, would it work in your home town?

  • ct

    Such a brilliant concept. Having a shop with space, tools, and resources that everyone can share is a great idea, but the best part is their commitment towards creating and fostering a genuine community. Very cool, wish something like that existed near my home.

  • Ugh

    This is the best thing I’ve ever heard of. If someone wants to start one of these in Melbourne I’ll help in anyway I can.

  • Absoutely beatiful. Great for community and helping people build themselves at the same time as their bikes. Every city should have a place like this.

    Thanks to Pipeburn for spreading the word and to the Zenga Bros for the brilliant story.

  • Cafe Racers Return

    Great story. The world needs more workshops like this one. I know of one in Perth that is very similar but more targeted to cars. I’d be in to a Melbourne based on too!

  • We would be interested in starting one in Sydney. Need a few business partners though.

    • I’m in Sydney (inner west), and im in… i know the perfect building too. its for lease its awesome called the guy a few days ago.

      • redrumracer

        i’ve thought about this many times over the past few years. i’d be keen to get involved in this in Sydney somewhere….

    • Roscoe

      AWESOME! I’m new to all this and I have been trawling all the sites. 

      I dont have a clue but I have a dream!! I want in!

  • Philip B

    What a great idea. I’m sure there’d be plenty of people in Syd who would be keen for something like that too

    • Finn Laden

      I concurr!

  • Hawk

    Yes!!! There was/is a bicycle shop like this in San Francisco when I lived there that was the same deal. I loved it and built/rebuilt and repaired several bikes there. A motorcycle shop like that would be great!

  • Ads

    Oddly, I had this actual idea this very day.. “how cool would it be to have a communal bike shop where you could come and work on your bikes together…?!”.. and THIS IS IT!! I’d be interested in a Sydney gig.. and I reckon I’d have a mate or two who’d be willing to play ball too.. we’re new to the custom bike scene, but this would be awesome.. 

  • This is so inspiring! no man is an island! It’s like a communal art space for motorcycles. I’m totally in awe.

  • Isoyoye

    No Way! This is the best  feature this year and its only the beginning of the year Pipeburn. I love this idea in NYC area badly, any interested takers?.. thanks guys.

  • Joe

    Denver NEEDS one of these!

    • Agree with ya, Joe!

      • Chad Gates

        Trying to talk my buddy into in right now.. In Denver. 

        • James

          Totally into the Denver idea. Such a place would be a wealth of knowledge, not to mention the great community that would inevitably form. I’m a Denver native and would love to contribute to something like this. Any takers? I’d be willing to help!

          • Chad Gates

            My Buddy and I are kicking it around. In the Denver area. Is there demand?

  • revdub

    I would give up one of my “boys” to have something like this in my home town. Am I serious? Hmmm. Maybe. Either way, this is an amazing idea. These guys and their shop seem awesome. As if I needed another reason to move to Canada.

  • We have this going on in San Diego… Need to move it into a larger space, and get the word out. As it stands, I have 10 or so guys (and gals) participating currently. Found the perfect space, just need to make it happen… Contact via

  • there’s a spot like this in nyc, too. seems a lot more individual, less communal. the communal thing is great. canadians are friendly. 🙂

  • Nick

    I live in rural New Jersey (united states) and there aren’t many places for me to get this kind of knowledge. Put this in my area and guys my age, (25-30) would go bananas.  Love the site btw, follow it daily.

  • Peter

    Ton Up Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida is similar to this.  Customers can rent tools, lifts, tire mount/balance machine, and more.  There’s a mechanic who specializes in older bikes, carb work, and even has a micro lathe to make parts if needed.  Ton Up has just over 3,600 sq ft which is mostly open garage, plus a parts counter, retail area and lounge.  Free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV’s, comfortable seating and an art gallery can be found there too.  The entire facility can be rented by clubs or groups for meeting, events, etc.  Check them out at and on Facebook.

  • Jeremy Arthur Vandelay

    the only problem with this model is that 99% of people that own motorcycles have no business whatsoever working on them. We have had at least 3-500 vintage motorcycles come through my shop in the last 3 years and I’ve learned anyone claiming they are a “mechanic” should be taken with the same grain of salt as someone in LA that says “I’m an actor”.

    Then again, it may be an excellent model on the flip side of that equation. All the people that have no clue what they’re doing will inevitably need a competent tech to fix whatever they’ve mucked up.

    • Richard Brandt

      No better way to learn than by doing – this seems like a great way for those 99% to get the knowledge and skills that they weren’t lucky enough to glean from a parent, sibling or friend.

      I’m lucky enough to be able to hit up a forum or call my pop if, having beat my head against a problem until a bruise forms, I can’t sort something out…not everyone is so lucky. And having built a bike from the ground up in my garage I would happily hand over a hundred bucks a year to have a place like this to wrench.

      • GuitarSlinger

        Amen RB . Folks need to learn and this is a good way to start . M/C’s aren’t rocket science after all !

        • Richard Brandt

          Exactly – and I think that those people who don’t do any work themselves may just not be aware that they aren’t.

        • Jeremy Arthur Vandelay

          dude, bikes are FAR more complicated than anyone wants to believe. I have owned a vintage motorcycle repair business for 4 years now, I have employed at least 10-15 different “mechanics” and well over half of them were utterly incompetent.

          Most people really have no business even attempting to work on these bikes. They don’t have the experience to make critical judgment calls that are literally life and death. Cracked triple clamps, stripped axle bolts, missing different cotter pins and bushings… I’ve seen it all, and most of these guys have no idea what they are looking at.

          Taking the attitude that motorcycles are simple is pretty dangerous.

  • Justin

    Ya, Simon and Paul.  Looking good on the interwebs. These guys and their shop are great, I live around the corner from them, been going to them the past year or so.  Good to see them get some exposure and support for their project. 

  • Justin

    I do something similar here in Brooklyn, NY as well

    • Nice one Justin. How long have you had it going? doing well?

      • Justin

        Thanks. We’ve been around for about 10 months. The more you look the more you find places like moto method and Vax Moto. It’s all about the community

    • Speirmoor

      What time is the food served?

  • Brian

    When I was younger I remember the local vocational school offering a basic maintenance and repair, taught buy a mechanic at a local shop. This was my first real exposure to the guts of motorcycle support industry. I loved it and it made me a better owner and rider.
    I see this as an upgrade to that idea from the 80's. I have been thinking about starting a community shop in my home state of Minnesota, so to see this makes me all the more interested in the subject. Way to go Motomethod! I salute your project and thanks for support the rider!

  • GuitarSlinger

    Well ……. I’ll play devils advocate on this one 

    First let me qualify that I think this is a brilliant idea 

    But ……… several folks across the US have been trying this concept with Bicycles to no avail .. with many going under in two years or less . 

    Maybe with the cost of tools for an M/C vs Bicycle being so much higher : as well as the added complexity of repairing/modifying a Motorcycle will bode better for Motomehtod ( as well as the fact that CDN’s are a whole lot more cooperative with each other than most of us Yanks are ) and I hope for their sake , as well as the multitudes that should be using this service instead of having someone else do everything on their M/C’s 

    Here’s hoping !

    • Ugh

      Interesting. I don’t know what those guys are doing wrong, though – I can name a bicycle collective in every city in Australia. The one in Brisbane has been running for twelve years that I know of. Melbourne has two.

  • dave

    in australia we have public liability and insurence, isnt that why you have to be qalified tradesman to work on vehicles in a business? i remember there was a place in sydney a long time ago called ‘u do it’. pay a fee, Take your car in use there tools and leave when finished. it was great but they closed without a trace. does anyone remeber or know what hapened there? i think insurance etc as said above swalowed these types of operations up

    • Ugh

      Sign a waiver. “I understand that as a member of  Melbourne Moto Shop the responsibility for proper maintanence is on me. I do not hold MMS responsible for the repairs I undertake on my own vehicle using the Tool Pool and Bench Space. Blah blah blah.”

      • Ugh

        Now I think about it, this project should occupy the same legal space as a gym. It’s leasing of equipment, with membership. You work at your own pace, take responsibility for everything yourself, ask a trainer for help when you get stuck under the barbell.

  • Generic

    Pay $100 to screw it up yourself, then $80/hr to have it fixed by the pro.  This is awesome. 

    The most commonly consumed parts are oil, tires, chains and sprockets.  Only the avid motorcyclist wears chains out once or twice a year. (changing sprockets on every-other chain replacement)

    The most common “maintenance” is a valve clearance check.

    The most common “upgrade” is a exhaust, air cleaner, re-jet.

    All other service issues are caused by misuse, abuse and abandonment.  Which all result in a new owner and the “project bike”/complete rebuild.

    Conclusion:  So the business case is solid.  Frequent maintenance causes business and the lack of maintenance causes big business. 

    Bicycles don’t compare, since they can sit in a garage for 40+ years and only require an inner tube and tire to put them back on the road.

  • Remember – life is full of opportunities that can be rationalized away to nothing. Hell, when Scott started Pipeburn he had absolutely zero experience and a billion “what ifs” – all he knew was that he loved bikes.

    Steve Jobs was onced ask about the secret to his success. He answered “there’s only two things in business that really matter. First, you have to REALLY love what you do to the point where you’ll keep on doing it beyond the point where a rational person would have given up. And secondly, you have to surround yourself with talented, genuine people.”

    • Jeremy Arthur Vandelay

      the difference is that scott wouldn’t have killed himself by taking a chance starting pipeburn

  • Chad Gates

    Can you guys name as many examples and links as you can think of? I might like to start another. Thanks.

  • Spark Plug

    This is right in my hometown and I didn’t even know about it.  WICKED!

  • Jonnymasses

    Brilliant. Anyone involved or know a place like this in Toronto?

  • eero

    I am a province away from these guys and I will be taking a road trip this summer just to see them at work, throw a donation in the jar and say, “you guys are brilliant.”

  • Mike

    awesome, just awesome. 

  • Kennnettdavid

    Gee I remember this shop oh so well   .  paid the membership.  Tire changes at the time suppose to be free with membership. End up with a  100 buck bill.  The worst was the fact that  he dame will didn’t  tighten my scooters rear axle nut or didn’t put it on.  5 days  after  the tire   change I  go what the hell is that noise.   My Turns out it was one lower rear mount snapping of at the crankcase where it bolts to the engine.    The damage was 1 ) shot bearing in the drive shaft.  2) Upper swing arm bolt broken off.   3) both holes where the muffler  attached to the manifold stripped .  4) Lower rear bolt hole snapped clean off.     The bill to fix it would have been 600 bucks to fix.    I didn’t work on my own bike at all they did .   Great concept but the guy in the video is the one whom dam will %()#_*()_#58  my elite 250 .      Sorry the only moto method here is one of someone whom took no formal training working on bikes.   Is that slander?  No that is his own words to me 2 years ago.  A self trained person.     He left me without a motorcycle and the only thing he did that was any good was give me back the 100 buck fee he charges to join up.          

    • kingkoopa

      amongst the  sea of the inernet, you are the one unhappy grump. Learn your lesson; an elite 250 is not worthy of you, or a repair shop by any means

      • Kennettdavid

        King poopa  the fact remains that your just trolling.   Learn your lesson  your   trolling is not worthy of 2 cents worth or much by any means.   Let me guess your one of the owners or defenders of the shop.   Any shop worthy of being put in the spot light stands behind there work.  Rather then sue I let it go.   The facts are as stated.  They screwed up, causing damage that trashed a bike.    As I said King poopa your just trolling and in person you would never ever says this type of shit. 

  • bigskyguy

    That….is awsome. Too cold here in Montana though. Mabey a four month riding season. Salt Lake anyone?

  • Sean

    I’m here in Seattle and have started something similar in Sodo called Rumble Machine Co. I absolutely love that there are like-minded fellows out there! So great to see. We charge monthly, and that also includes access to all my tools and knowledge, granted both aren’t as extensive! I’m a young dude and trying to get my hands dirty on every make/model I see, building a personal bike here and there as well.

    If you’re in Seattle, let me know if you wanna get your bike out of the rain and make it tip top, while drinking a few brews as well. These guys definitely have the right idea! On our facebook page, you’ll see the infant stages of a shop, but we’ve come quite a way and it’s getting close to full-service.

  • Peter Cahill

    Anyone doing this in Philadelphia?  Does anyone have any interest.

  • Andre Pau

    Great idea , would love to have a bike build / repair shop for the community somewhere you can do your stuff warm ‘n’ dry and not mess up the kitchen run properly would be a huge asset to all us bikers/builders