Come In. Rent A Lift And Tools. Repair Your Motorcycle.

During these past 3 years I wrote a few articles about “Self-Repair” shops offering individuals the option to come in, reserve a lift, rent tools and machines and do their own fabrication/repair jobs with or without the supervision and help of on location expert technicians. The only negative, at least in the sue-happy US society, is the shop owner’s liability if anything goes wrong – for ex. injuries – while an individual is working on your premises. Well, it doesn’t seem to discourage those who still think it’s a great business concept in line with bikers brotherhood. Motomethod Community Motorcycle Repair Shop in Vancouver, BC Canada is one those  full repair shops allowing the rider to come in and perform his repairs. And it accepts nearly all makes and models of motorcycles, old or new.

18 Responses to “Come In. Rent A Lift And Tools. Repair Your Motorcycle.”

  1. 1 JJ - Moto Addict Jan 26th, 2012 at 10:49 am

    What a wonderful dream come true.

    Best wishes MotoMethod!!!

  2. 2 Jason Hallman Jan 26th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Hmmm…sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing at all against owners of motorcycles working on their own bikes. They make up some of my very best customers. However, outside of basic maintenance skills I would not invite an unskilled owner into my shop for several reasons:
    1-Liability…that is all that needs to be said for that
    2-Experience…customers do not possess the expert skills that can take years to develop.
    3-Staff…I really think that my staff would be offended by this. They have made significant investments in tools and time to learn their trade…why minimize that by letting someone in to work on their own bikes.

    This concept is not all together a “loser”. Perhaps this individual should consider altering the business model slightly into more of a school atmosphere. There are countless more funding options (through grants and loans for instance) and it can be significantly cheaper to insure too. The customer experience has a better chance of success based solely on the idea that there are certain guidelines for safety that are easier to enforce in a school.

    You have to decide what your end goal is. If having a shop that rents space and tools is your goal I think it is short lived at best. Even if you are a parts dealer…your margin is around 30% at best for gross profit. An ill informed owner performing their own service can easily damage a part trying to incorrectly install it. I think this would be a breeding ground for ill tempers and poor customer experiences.

    I have run my own motorcycle repair shop since 2004 and I am also a high school auto shop teacher so I know both sides of the equation. It doesn’t mean I am right…just means I have an experienced point of view.

  3. 3 DW Jan 26th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Agree with Jason above – You’d need strong contract/liability release documents from users and insurance. Its an interesting concept but may not be practical UNLESS you have an extensive clientele of pros in need of a garage/tools. if the clientele is the average joe schmo, the risk factor goes way up.

    I do think there is a good market for a repair shop that offers classes in repair, maintenance, etc. Id certainly consider it if an indy shop offered them in my area. The downside is if youre a great teacher youre losing customers 🙂 Upside is, you develop a more personal relationship with the customer who will be much more likely to come to you for bigger jobs like customs, refer friends, etc.

  4. 4 burnout Jan 26th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    X3 /\ . peace

  5. 5 viz Jan 26th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    The military has been doing this for along time for their service members. Except that its free, unless you need to use the space overnight.

  6. 6 dannyb278 Jan 26th, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    whats interesting is these responses from the cyril huze blog that seem to be constructive critisism at best and the responses on a different website vary similar to this one (but less chopper/harely based) there seems to be nothing but enthusiasm and support.

    not sayint either one is right/wrong but i wonder what kind of demographic difference there is in the two, if any at all?

  7. 7 Vince Lamarche Jan 26th, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    It is a great idea and for the average joe its an opportunity to learn to wrench on their bike.

    Unfortunately the few that have tried to do the concept here in SoCal have all closed their doors only months after opening.

    90% of the people going to these are first timers just trying to save a buck. They figure techs are just monkeys and how hard could it really be? After all they watch all the build off shows and it looks like a piece of cake.

    The problem falls mainly on the bike owner. They roll their bike up on the lift and proceed to strip,break,bend and just screw up the job all together. Now the bike is sitting on the lift clicking off dollars in shop rent and they go crying to the guy at the front desk wanting him to fix his screw up for free.

    Then there is the job that is started and half way through they realize they need more parts. The ask to borrow the desk guys car/bike to go pick up parts.

    Then there is the insurance. What do you tell your rep when he asks if everyone who is going to be working in the shop if they are qualified to be working with the tools on hand?

    That is just a couple problems that comes up in shops like this.

    Personally I would love to have this concept close to me. I have been wrenching for a long time and just been laid off from the shop I was working at. I dont have the proper place to be working on my bike and this would be perfect. Plus I could hang out and be available to fix the screw ups for a fraction of what a dealership would charge.

  8. 8 18bravo Jan 26th, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Several months ago there was a similaar article about Three Two Choppers’ “Build Your Own Bike” program. I had been looking for just such an arrangement. Now I might be just an average Joe, but the bike is anything but. It’s a testament to good teaching skills and their desire to “Add to the Culture,” as it says on their website.
    I may not have known the first think about the mill or the lathe when I first got there. Now I design and make my own parts without any supervision, freeing them up to work on their own projects. we could use more programs like these.

  9. 9 BrotherTiberius Jan 27th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    As an attorney, I agree with the liability issues raised, but I also don’t know enough about Canadian law to say with certainty if there isn’t some exception in liability law for this type of activity, possibly making it more realistic in that country.

    I can only guess what the liability litigation would be like in California as well…

  10. 10 Mech1 Jan 27th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I think the people working on their own bikes understand the risks of trying to do something yourself to save some money. I can’t say for all, but most of us Canadians that work on our own stuff at someone elses place aren’t interested in suing anyone if an accident were to occur. We are more likely to kick ourselves around the block and lower our heads in shame for being cheap and trying to save some cash. On the other hand, if things go great its a pretty good feeling to have fixed your own bike. Those owners seem like a great bunch of people.

  11. 11 Woody Jan 27th, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Many of these arguments for/against could be compared to a self-serve car wash bay, I suppose. They seem to be able to survive. The devil’s in the details. All some people need is a place to work on a bike, like apartment complex dwellers with no garage and leases that don’t allow working on vehicles beyond jump starts.

  12. 12 Wiz Jan 29th, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I’ve been offereing this for years now. My shop rate is $50. an hour if I do it [I know, Damn cheap] and if you want to work on your own bike, it’s $25. an hour to use my tools, lift, ambiance [Kick-Ass stereo] etc. I encourage individuals [I make sure they got a clue first] to be involved with their bike, get to know it, give it some of their soul! If nobody helped me out when I was first getting started wrenchin’ [Oh, come to think of it, nobody did] mute point! But anywho, an empty lift ain’t makin’ me no money. This way I can be workin’ on other projects on one lift ‘an be makin’ $25. an hour from the other one. Of course, I supervise all the way through. I mean, let them do their own oil changes, put their “Live to Ride” mirrors ‘n derby covers on, stuff like that. They ain’t rebuildin’ their motors/trannys or nuthin’. They appreciate my expierence, ‘an I got sumbody to tell my old, sick jokes to! As far as what MIGHT happen [liability horsecrap] if you are scared of that…you wouldn’t be ridin’ them murdersickles in the first place! Wiz

  13. 13 Woody Jan 29th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Right on, Wiz! Raisin pie to ya 😉

  14. 14 Scott Jan 30th, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Oh come on, has anyone heard of a waiver??

    Even the “attorney,” old judge Judy, didn’t mention that. Make up something quick that absolves the owner from all injury and liability in the event of an accident. State a maximum time the bike has on the lift (two weeks) and after three the bike’s out, if not it becomes the shops property (in event of abandonment). They sign, if not, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Scribble it out on a notepad and keep it in your desk.

    It’s incredible how many contractors (I see it all the time in construction) and business owners have not taken the time to provide a contract, estimate, or waiver to cover their ass. That’s what the “attorney” above drools over. You guys just stuff his wallet. Do anything you can to keep bloodsucking lawyers and insurance salesmen out of your bottom line.

    Ever hear “you need to lawyer up?” They should be saying “you screwed up, pay up.” Because somewhere along the line, you failed to cover your ass.

  15. 15 Manny Jan 30th, 2012 at 9:10 am

    It’s a good idea, and somewhat inevitable in this “down economy” where real enthusiasts want to keep riding, but not pay expensive maintenance bills to do so. Don’t let fears of litigation limit your ideas and passion. Be smart about choices developing the shop and its resources and this would play out well for you and the customers.

    In my town we have a motorcycle co-op that gets together monthly at an organizer’s home with motorcyclists helping motorcyclists, using community tools and sharing tools, and it works. Main difference is it’s non-profit and they meet at a home and not in a shop, and limit their work to more basic maintenance. They’re not rebuilding tranny’s or custom welding frames together, but taking care of basic and slightly more complicated maintenance and fixes has led to safer riding and many co-op members to learning more wrenching skills so they can help themselves more often down the road (especially on the side of the road when the inevitable surprise mechanical gremlin rears its head during a ride).

    I don’t know that I’d throw a welding torch, sawzall, or transmission rebuild project into a moto-neophyte’s hands, but two weeks ago I watched a friend pay $50 to a local independent shop guy to change out a frayed clutch cable on an XS650. He didn’t even get a new cable, but a used one that has cracks in its outter sheathing that will only lead to premature failure again. With just a little help and the proper sized allen wrench, my buddy could have bought that same cable new from MotionPro for $17, come to my house changed it with my help and spent the remaining $33 buying me a beer and lunch for the favor (or on the throttle cables he likely needs to replace next).

    As veteran riders (especially as most of us here are “industry” folk), we have a responsibility to help our neighbors, friends, and community discover motorcycling in an intelligent and safe manner, so we can all continue to enjoy it in our own way. I applaud the MotoMethod guys for embracing this particular aspect of it and creating an open and inviting environment for riders to become better riders. I hope they continue to see prosperity and success.

  16. 16 John Williams Jan 30th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Thank god I learned how to work on things when I was in my single digits. As I got older, my projects got more comprehensive. I went from working on my bicycles to lawn mowers to Go Karts, Cars. My learing never ended. Now I can do about anything, welding, machining, wrenching, masonry, framing, plumbing, electrical, A/C, and more. Most of my skills were all self taught. I rarely have to hire out anything. Now my garage is jam packed with tools and equipment. I’ve completely torn down my Harley engine and I don’t find it hard at all.

    Ride on

  17. 17 Lemon Jan 31st, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Hello, I’m writing from mi experience, younger in this idea , we opened 2 years ago with this idea here in Barcelona, Spain, in a small local but with a lot of enthusiastic, I think this is the 1rst self garage in Spain. At the beginning of this year we are change to other local, better, more large, we have expanded the shop area, with clothes and parts to motorcycle, yes is true that is so dificuld that the bikers come on, however step by step, the bikers are coming day by day and the changes, reparations are easy to them, just with our supervision is enough. also we design and manufacture brass parts which we offer and like to the bikers

    health & benzine

  18. 18 Alcohtraz Feb 2nd, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Id be hard pressed to let a stranger into my shop to work and not be worried about wether the guy is trust worthy. Sure you might be covered for an accident by signing a release but what about thievery..

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Cyril Huze