Title photo: Devin Paisley
The Moto Social started seven years ago as weekly gatherings with a small group of friends in Toronto, but it’s long since spread outside Canada.
As per The Moto Social’s Facebook page, these are “rad, welcoming, monthly social events in major cities around the world. OUR GOAL: To help people connect with one another and to help everyone feel more at home and connected in their cities.” In other words, they use motorcycles and coffee and sometimes good food to help connect people. The page also says it doesn’t matter if you have a bike or not, you’re still welcome. There’s no charge, although you can buy branded merchandise off The Moto Social now (it’s just been launched, and you’ll be able to get it through the website soon).
Not bad for an idea hatched by a couple of riders who were new to the scene. We reached out to husband/wife founding team Viktor and Samantha Radics to get The Moto Social’s story. Here’s what Viktor had to say.
Talking with The Moto Social
CMG: What was the reason for starting The Moto Social?
Viktor Radics: We wanted to create a social event that had a more intentional purpose — an event that was positive, inviting, inclusive and focused on connecting people in Toronto. Back when we first started The Moto Social, Sam and I were fairly new to the motorcycle scene and really wanted to meet like-minded people in the city.
CMG: The very first event — where was it held, and what sort of riders showed up? How many were there?
VR: Our very first event was held on May 22, 2013 at a fish and chips shop called Chippy’s (now called Hooky’s) in the Queen West area of Toronto. We had about 5-10 people come out. They were mostly friends and clients. Back then our events were held weekly, every Wednesday at Chippy’s. Then in 2014, we switched over to our monthly model and began changing locations each month.
CMG: How did it end up growing from there? What was the next step?
VR: We noticed during our first season that weekly events were too frequent and that this frequency created this “I’ll just come next week” sort of response. The turnouts during our first year stayed roughly 10-30 people each week but we wanted to meet more people in Toronto. In 2014, we decided to host our events less frequently and make them a bit more special and therefore switched to a monthly event model, and threw in a twist by changing the location each month. This had a huge impact. Our monthly events grew from 30-100 people over the summer and continued to grow exponentially over the years that followed.
CMG: Did you guys have experience in organizing this sort of thing before The Moto Social?
VR: We didn’t have any event-organizing experience but both Samantha and I worked at motorcycle dealerships at the time and had helped with organizing shop BBQs and rides, etc., but nothing like this.
CMG: Now, The Moto Social has spread all through Canada and even all over the world. How many of these individual events have you been to?
VR: The Moto Social is represented by a local team of friends in each city that it is hosted. Sam and I live in Toronto and support each team from here and we also try to go to each city’s inaugural events to help them set things up. So we’ve been to almost all 21 cities that The Moto Social hosted.
CMG: What is it about The Moto Social that’s helped it to spread so far, so fast? Is it social media? Or because there’s some non-competitive “Canadian-ness” about it that people like? Or is it just an idea whose time has come, like the song says?
VR: I think The Moto Social’s growth and success comes from a combination of things. It’s a combo of us having clear vision and a goal to build community and to positively impact humanity, partnered with our team’s passion and willingness to put in the time and work required to see the vision come to pass. Being strategic in how we execute our events to actually accomplish the positive community building is also an important element to our success. Embracing current technology and tools like social media also play a big role in it all. Social media gives us the ability to communicate and be discovered locally and globally and it has helped us find most of our current global teammates.
CMG: What towns will hold new The Moto Social events in 2020? Where are you expanding this year?
VR: We’re always chatting with people in different parts of the world who are interested in bringing The Moto Social to their city. We’re still finalizing details with new team members but we’ll announce them soon online.
CMG: What about the camping trip? Can you tell us about that, and how you got connected with Jack.org?
VR: CAMP is our annual culinary, moto-camping charity fundraiser event in support of our favourite youth mental health charity, Jack.org. CAMP is a weekend-long experience where 200-300 of our community members from all over the world (mostly eastern Canada and US) come together in (Ontario’s) Prince Edward County to camp, to connect, to ride and to eat the best food prepared by a local team of world-class chefs. It’s a very special weekend and last year our 200 participants raised over $55,000 for Jack.org and their youth mental health initiatives.
CMG: What *else* do you guys do with your lives? What kept you busy before The Moto Social, and what else keeps you busy now?
VR: Everyone involved in hosting The Moto Social globally approaches The Moto Social as a side-hustle passion project. We all have day jobs in various industries and we span from working as freelance creatives, photographers, filmmakers, producers, corporate executives, artists, entrepreneurs, small business owners, architects, IT professionals and motorcycle dealership associates. What unites us as a team is our common passion for motorcycling and seeing more and more people connect and being surrounded by great people.
Sam and I personally run our freelance commercial lifestyle photography/direction business together and oversee the global operation of our lil’ passion project — The Moto Social. Before transitioning into photography and The Moto Social full-time, Sam and I were both working in the motorcycle industry. Sam was managing an Aprilia/Moto Guzzi dealer in Toronto and I was selling bikes at BMW Toronto.
CMG: What bikes do you guys ride, and is there a particular machine either of you aspires to, someday?
VR: We love all the bikes. We want to ride them all and we’ve had the opportunity to ride a ton of different types of machines over the years. We’re primarily on-road riders but love getting off-road when we can. We’ve owned Vespas, vintage BMW airheads, old Honda CBs and now we’re riding Husqvarna street bikes.
Some of our dream bikes:
• 1970s Ducati 350 Desmo
• 2020 Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory
• 1986 Yamaha XT 600 Ténéré
• 1988 Yamaha FZR400
• BMW R100RS & GSPD
• BMW R nineT
• HD LiveWire
Want to know more about The Moto Social? Check it out on Facebook. Currently, there are events in 21 cities around the world, including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Saint John, Windsor, and Ontario’s Prince Edward County here in Canada. Expect more locations to be announced this spring.