Greetings motorcyclists! We are very pleased to announce the current development of Chicagoland’s first true community motorcycle garage! Our team is creating a non-corporate, open community space that will capture the entirety of motorcycling; wrenching, socializing, and riding. Unlike a traditional shop; we are designing an environment for you to hang out, be the mechanic and become a part of the shop. Your ideas, involvement and input will influence its direction. A motorcycle space designed and ran by the motorcyclists who use it.
Currently, we are on track to open in the summer of 2015. Why are we announcing this before we open the doors? Simply put, we want you involved with every design decision of the facility. Community involvement is the foundation of what we are creating and how it will operate. From the benefits of membership, to the cost of use and formation of the social scene; we feel your thoughts and ideas will be instrumental in helping us create a space that will fully integrate the community in a way never done before.
From motorcyclists to motorcyclists; we would like to invite you, to become an integral part of the design and creation of a place to call our own, our own MotoGarage.
Please check out our website at www.motogaragechi.com, join our forum and ask us any questions you have! We look forward to what we will create together!
With deepest appreciation,
Team MotoGarage -
Matt Milford Katie Whikehart Mark Milford Lauren Hale
Post by Matt Milford on Oct 22, 2014 11:07:44 GMT -6
During this launch phase, we have been fielding questions and suggestions from a wide range of sources (other forums, Reddit, direct contact, Facebook messages, etc,). I would like to update the community with the questions and our responses, the goal being to centralize one location for the community's inquiries and MotoGarage's responses! I'm going to keep the questions exactly as asked, but may tweak our response a little bit to better incorporate more ideas and multiple questions on the same topic.
Questions & Suggestions;
1) "Have a "no colors" rule from the start, and enforce it strictly. Not just for the 1%ers, but even for the "riders' clubs" and all other groups. (I can see an exception for a CMA member or something like that.)"
MG - Our goal is to create an atmosphere that welcomes all riders; male, female, young, old, beginner and seasoned bikers. A strict policy will be in place for any activity that inhibits the welcoming of anyone and any biker. 2) "Have a way to move a bike that can't be pushed. If you have someone that has the wheels, or the front end, or something off a bike and needs to wait for a part, you'll need a way to get it to storage without having the owner re-assemble his scoot."
MG - That's an excellent point and something we haven't thought of! We will put that on our list of developmental requirements, thank you! 3) "Don't allow anyone to go into the bike storage area un-escorted, even if they have a bike in there. It would be too easy for someone to claim damages or theft, even if there were not any."
MG - We've included in our budget a set aside for security. We'll have an internal and external camera system that will output recording data to an offsite server. With that being said, any way to mitigate damage to a stored bike is especially crucial as that will be a big breach in trust and feeling of security. An escort to the storage side is a great point, and is now on our list, thank you. 3) "Obviously shop tools would be signed out on an as-needed basis, but a quick, reliable way to inventory all basic hand tools before each user leaves would be a good idea too. You don't want to start bleeding tools from the fist day."
MG - Ah! The fun begins. Each bay will have it's own set of tools. We've included a budgetary amount to equip the bays with a full set. The exact set size and tool capacity will be developed in the coming months but will be standard to allow easy replacement. We haven't developed a quick way to access the tool inventory of each bay, but perhaps in the check out process a staff member will go through the tools. Specialty tools, however, will absolutely be a check in / check out type arrangement. 4) "For the each bay's tools you could start with the basic tools that are required by MMI or Wyotech. That would give each bay just about everything the average user would want, less specialty tools, and should fit in a standard 3 or 4 drawer top box. You can probably find the list on line, or if not I might have a copy filed away somewhere.
For an inventory of the tools when someone checks out, how about specific tool holders that are the same in each box? Foam holders for ratchets, socket racks, even painted tool outlines or whatever works. That way, when someone checks out your employee can pull out each drawer and do a spot inventory in seconds. Any empty tool holder will stick out and be obvious.
At the Harley in-service training centers all the tools are kept in a specific order in each bay's box, and the techs know to put them back exactly as they're supposed to be. The instructors can glance at each box and know right away if something is amiss. You can't trust your customers to be that motivated, but if you have various holders and devices where all the tools must go you can achieve the same effect I think."
MG - This is exactly the reason why we want the community involved. This is an excellent suggestion that we will now emulate. Thank you!! 5 ) "Are the bays going to be communal or sort of private? It's not a good idea to have other people poking around a scoot or toolbox while the owner is taking a pee break or something. (Personally, I don't want anyone talking to me or distracting me while I'm working on a scoot either, but that might just be me.)"
MG - As a mechanic myself, I understand completely. Sometimes I don't mind being watched (when things are going well) and other times I want to be by myself (when things aren't!). An idea will be to mark off each bay with lines and have a rule to not allow entry in a bay while someone is working unless given permission.
The bay themselves will all be public and in the public area. Use will either be by the hour/day/month for non members and will be free use for members (with to be determined monthly/ hourly allotments based on an ascending three tier system). Because the bays, exact tools and set up haven't been designed yet, there is a possibility that a more private 'member only' bay may be constructed. Depends on what the community wants! 6) "Use fair, flat-rate billing for your own techs. If, for example, one of your guys starts on a tune up on a customer's bike then gets a question in bay #3, then gets nabbed walking back past bay #6, then gets back to work and gets a few questions on what he's doing from people just socializing, none of that is billable to the initial tune-up customer, right? "
MG - I really am enjoying how deep you're getting and appreciate this response! We are currently in talks with a few mechanics who are interested in 'renting' a bay on a monthly basis to perform work in house on customer motorcycles. With that being said, an aspect this shop will provide is technical assistance to customers tackling a new project. This will be accomplished through the bay computer (utilizing forums such as this, online tutorials, parts diagrams etc.). Now, some will want a more one on one connection and help on a project. A thought process now will be the ability to schedule a mechanic's help through a 'workshop' time allotment. The mechanic we will have will be compensated accordingly on agreed terms. 7) "But, how will you pay your tech for the time he just spent answering questions?"
MG - This will be part of the agreement with the mechanic we contract. Whether it be an hourly amount, part of the 'monthly rent' for a bay's use or something is to be determined. 8) "And, how will he be sure he remembered exactly where he left off working when bay #3 first asked for his help?"
MG - Great point, if we schedule his assistance in particular bays at a particular time we should be able to reduce this risk. Generalized help, however, is to be determined how and when it will be given. 9) "Have a TON of absorbent materials handy."
MG - As someone who still has trouble pouring used oil in a container without spilling, we absolutely will! 10) "The place might become popular, especially for newer people and those who have nowhere else to work on their scoots, but management is going to have to be seriously on the ball, all the time."
MG - The idea of the shops popularity isn't one based strictly on the mechanical haven it will provide, we hope MotoGarage becomes a place for any motorcyclists who just wants to hang out, meet up and congregate. 11) "It needs to be pointed out that Naperville is not Chicago."
"Why call it MotoGarage Chi if it's located in Naperville?
I think this is an awesome idea - I've struggled with finding a place to store my motorcycles ever since moving into the city. But it doesn't make much sense for someone who owns a motorcycle to have to travel out to the suburbs and more people in the suburbs have their own garage anyway. I would love to have something like this in the city, but this is kind of impractical for someone in the city who doesn't own a car." "No offense, but I think this really needs to be in the city.
I do my own work out on the street, and there are some things I have been simply unable to do (as well as things I just don't want to do because I would have to do them all at once to avoid leaving a half assembled bike on the street).
People in the suburbs have garages, or if they don't, they are much cheaper to rent. They also have cars, so they can deal with locations that are further away or not having a working bike for a while. Many of them are married and have spouses who can come pick them up if the bike has to stay somewhere a bit further away.
Seems like the ideal market for this kind of thing are the people with nowhere to work on their bike. Even if they could ride it to the suburbs, what if it is a 2 day project? How do they get home. Stick it somewhere in the city (maybe the west or southwest side where there seem to be many appropriate buildings) and you become a resource for all of the young city dwellers who are just starting to wrench on bikes. Put it near a bus or train (or divvy) and they can still come and go when their bike is broken."
MG - As of now the epicenter of the facility search is Naperville. With that being said, only a few of the locations we did a preliminary search on were in the city limits of Naperville. Most were located in neighboring cities towards downtown Chicago. When we get to the facility search portion of development the actual selection will be based on input from the community, so thank you for your thoughts!
We're looking into putting an interactive map of Chicago and the suburbs on our site to allow users to 'pin' their general location in order to see where the density is the highest. That and a couple other ideas are in the works in order to get a location that suits the biggest portion of the community. We are opening the development to the community to facilitate constructive criticism, so no offense is taken! Please continue to ask questions, poke holes and in general give your input on what we are doing! By providing feedback, ideas and thoughts you are helping us shape and build MotoGarage! Thank you for your time, and expect this to be updated as the Q&A progresses!
Post by Matt Milford on Oct 28, 2014 9:27:35 GMT -6
12) Is Matt Milford a certified tech?
No I am not, there isn't a 'universal' motorcycle certification (not like the ASE for Automotivess). There are, however, certifications from each of the big manufacturers that one could get (Kawasaki/Suzuki/HD etc.) but this isn't typically a prerequisite to work at shop! The lack of basic motorcycle classes or learning opportunities in the area is one of the major drivers to create MotoGarage.
With that being said, I don't plan on doing actual work on customer motorcycles as of now. While I've worked as a mechanic at a shop and have been working on motorcycles for for over a decade; I'd prefer to just run MotoGarage, give general advice and work on my own project motorcycles. 13) Will there be certified technicians working on the bikes?
We plan on contracting a mechanic for the shop, so yes there will be. In what capacity is still to be determined but we want MotoGarage to be able to perform like a traditional shop in which you drop off your motorcycle to get fixed. 14) Is this for newer bikes? Older bikes? Cruisers? Ninjas?
We want the environment to be welcoming to cruisers and sportbikers alike. We fully anticipate people bringing in older bikes to restore, newer ones for maintenance and everything imaginable in between! 15) How many motorcycles do you own and how long have you been riding?
Currently in my garage I have five motorcycles ranging from 1981 to 2008 consisting of both cruisers and sportbikes. I've been on two wheels for over 15 years now. 16) Classes teaching the basic maintenance steps for new bike owners. Things like oil changes, brake fluid changes, checking throttle cables, clutch cables, checking brake wear, etc. Lots of people buy used bikes and they don't always get the manual but all bikes need basic things.
Our intention for classes will be that they will be offered weekly from everything to start someone with zero mechanical experience all the way to the seasoned mechanic wanting to tackle a more challenging project. These are great ideas! 17) You might not want to limit to just motorcycles. One of the things I can't help but notice while working throughout Chicago is the amount of people that work on their cars and motorcycles in the park parking lots. They just don't have anywhere else to do it. Recently we saw a couple of guys replace a whole engine and trans in a Ford Taurus in one of the lake front parks. In the rain.
While the main intent is motorcycles, I have received some suggestions from the community to have at least one bay set aside for automotive work. While not off the table, I'm not super excited about it. But, I will present it and see what everyone thinks, if enough interest is there and the majority want it we will include it! 18) There was a bike shop in New Zealand, they had a café in front of the workshop and the back wall of the café was floor to ceiling glass so the café customers could watch the work in the workshop.
But if you have the space and an area for bike parking it could be an idea to lease some space to a cafe, that way riders would have more incentive to call in, increasing the community feel. You could work some deal that the café sold CCMG branded tee-shirts, split the profit. Then release new tees every quarter or six months, have some interesting graphics on each new issue so they become collectables. Maybe move on into jackets, gloves etc.
This place would be an ideal meeting place for group rides. I even have the name for it - "Café Racer". Get an old Brit bike and café it and hang it on the wall.
Something like this would be great, but would require the effort of many. Perhaps when we get farther along with the development we can start to look into incorporating another business, but we really like this idea... The purpose of MotoGarage is to create a 'hub' for congregation, anything that adds to that is exactly what we are looking for. 19) How can we donate money?
On the pledge page we have 'donation' buttons on each of the pledge tiers. This is linked directly to the MotoGarage PayPal account. If, however, you would prefer to send in money please contact us and we can provide an address to send to. Thank you for consideration on backing the project!