Photos: Moto Revere
Living in the GTA? Worried about where you can keep your bike when the snow starts to fly soon?
In Toronto, a newish motorcycle co-op (founded 2016) offers you the chance to store your bike, work on it, and maybe make some new friends in the process. Moto Revere is a combination communal garage, storage facility, and more and more these days, a hang-out.
It’s not the first business to follow this pattern – several high-profile motorcycle collectives have operated in the US for years, and even in Canada in the past – but it’s one of the most interesting in Canada at the moment, and it offers a valuable service to riders in the GTA. Riders who pay a membership fee can use the shop to work on their bikes, gaining access to workspace they might not have otherwise, as well as pricey tools they might not want to splurge on for occasional use. It also offers winter storage, which is pretty convenient if you want to work on your bike in the off-season.
We thought Moto Revere sounded interesting enough that we reached out to get their story. Here’s what Andrea Lothrop had to say about what Moto Revere offers, who works there, and why it exists. Read on:
Who’s behind Moto Revere? Who started it, who runs it, who works there?
Moto Revere was started in January of 2016, with the doors officially opening in May. It is run, owned and operated by Peter Redford and Andrea Lothrop. The space is set up to let people work on their own bikes, and to provide the tools, space, support and resources for people who aren’t set up with their own garages.
Peter and I both come from a background working with bicycle co-ops, and as we got more and more into motorcycles, we saw a real need for a similar offering for motorcycles.
Why start a business like this in the GTA?
Toronto is infamous right now for its lack of real estate; finding space to work that isn’t a curb or your condo parkade is almost impossible. People are living in tight quarters, so that alone is a good reason to offer a shared working space. Most daily riders don’t actually need a full tool set-up, even if you are doing your own motorcycle work, so it prevents people from having tools around that get used for five minutes a year. Living with these limitations ourselves, and looking at similar shops that were set up in the States and Australia, given our background in a similar type co-op, we thought that it would be a great way to work with our skills and help support the community.
It can be intimidating and difficult to get into doing maintenance on your own bike with no previous experience, and a lot of the time that turns into a barrier for people to know anything at all about their own bikes. We want to bridge that gap, by offering a supportive and inclusive space for people to work, with no judgment. We offer workshops that are intended to help educate people, with the ultimate goal of getting the work done, and riding safer bikes. With the new trend of vintage bikes and cafe racers coming up, a lot of people need to be able to do a lot more maintenance, and we’re really excited about this shift of people learning how to use their hands again!
Where did the name come from?
It was kind of a spit ball from the idea of the sounds “rev” and the French word “rever” (to dream), Revere is a kind of archaic word that means to hold something in esteem, and we thought that it made sense as a name for a place where you get to build your “Dream Bike”.
Who are your customers? What kind of bikes do you see in the Moto Revere garage?
All kinds of people, actually. It has been really cool to get to meet such a diverse segment of the motorcycle community in Toronto. People have come to us from all over, but mostly living downtown. They are men, women, young, retired, all kinds. We do get a lot of Japanese stock bikes as well as custom builds and conversions, but also get people working on their daily riders, doing larger overhaul work, some Vespas and mopeds too! A few guys have been working on choppers in here as well as some sport bikes.
What tools do you have available (and what specialty tools?)
We have a guy in the shop doing a good overhaul on his track bike right now, doing top end, forks, brakes, etc. He had a list done up of what tools he needed for the job when he first came in and we had everything he listed, so we have basically everything that your standard or more advanced wrencher would need. The list is always growing too: we’re hoping to be able to invest in more advanced tools like a vapour blaster in the future.
We also offer parts ordering, as well as parts receiving for members who have ordered parts off eBay etc. They can have them shipped to the shop, so they don’t have to worry about waiting for the courier. We are also finding ourselves to be more and more of an address book for people in the industry that can help with various parts of a bike or build, lock-smiths, painters, upholsterers, machinists etc .
(Specifically, Andrea noted Moto Revere has a tire changer, static balancer, lifts, jacks, parts washer, carb sync tools, bearing removers, and lots of other stuff you won’t find in the average home wrencher’s shop).
You offer training seminars for things like bike maintenance. Where did the idea for those events come from? Who typically shows up? Who teaches?
There are a few streams of education events that we do. The most common is a workshop, usually a one-hour demo and education session that’s taught by our certified mechanic, and some Q&A at the end. These we offer every two weeks and they’re usually on whatever topic is at hand, but accessible to a number of people — brakes, tires, chains, things like that would be the topics. We are also gearing up to do more “Shop Talks” this fall and winter, in which local builders and experts come in for a free chat, and Q&A on what they know best. Last year we had Amanda from Black Widow Custom Paint come in and do a demo on how to rattle-can a tank; that was a great experience and so awesome for people to get to learn the right way to do something. Right now, I’m working toward a session with ACP Customs from Hamilton to talk about the much-discussed M Unit from Moto Gadget.
Workshops are usually well-attended with anywhere from 10-25 people depending on the topic.
I am also getting ready for a couple of New Rider workshops in the fall that are usually really popular!
Why pick the location you’re in? (1250 Dupont St, Toronto)
Hah! We didn’t have much to choose from! We love the neighbourhood that we ended up in, and live just down the street. The space that we’re in has been renovated and I’ve always said it’s too nice to be a shop, but that’s part of the draw. We have amazing natural light, and it’s accessible by transit or even walking if your bike is on a stand at the shop. Dupont is also a pretty great cross-town for riders, so we’re constantly honking our shop horn at people as they ride by.
We are also hoping to open up our offering as far as retail and coffee go in the spring, so commuters have more of a reason to stop by.
Have you had any opposition from the city government? What about the local community?
Our neighbours are great!
How much space do you have for storage this winter, and what are the advantages Moto Revere offers over other motorcycle storage?
Oh man! Storage season was so fun for us last year. The shop takes on much more of a club vibe, and it’s really fun to deal with build problems with everyone’s heads together.
We offer two options for storage
1). Basic Storage. Your $20/month membership gives you access to the shop for doing your end-of-season maintenance, and then an additional $200 storage fee lets you keep the bike here, tucked away for the season, warm, secure, trickle-charged, etc. In the spring you can pull it back out and take advantage of your membership to do any pre-season maintenance, or larger project stuff.
2). Our Project Bike Storage is $200 / month and gives you full access to the shop, covers all of your shop use, storage for one bike or parts thereof.
How big is your space—is it big like a warehouse, or smaller, like a boutique?
We have a storefront and reception area up front that will be the space that the cafe occupies, and another 1000 sq/ft of shop space for storage and work bays and tools which is pretty open and flexible for different uses.
How many bikes can be worked on at one time?
We have four work bays in the shop during the summer with room to squeeze in another bike or two for a quick stop in. In the winter, depending on need we might drop a bay to make room for more projects. Booking time in the shop is a lot more straight forward over the winter, so we don’t anticipate any issues.
Do you have any plans for future programs, tools, maybe another facility in the GTA … ?
We’re always looking for new tools to expand our resources, and as mentioned want to open more of a communal cafe component to the shop in the spring. Eventually we’ll have to move to a bigger space, but not for a while.
Interested in storing your bike, or learning more about Moto Revere? Find more at the garage’s website. There are two levels of membership; the $20/month deal lets you get the $200 winter storage fee as stated above, and also lets you book shop time for $10/hr. It also gives you discounts on training workshops and merchandise. The other $200/month deal includes the shop time in the price (although you’ll still have to book ahead. You can switch between the two different membership levels as required. More info on memberships here.