We've previously written about the do-it-yourself motorcycle shops in urban areas that provide space and tools for you to work on your own motorcycle. Like any new idea, however, not everyone immediately understands, and one such club, Brother Moto in Atlanta, finds itself threatened.
Founded in 2013, Brother Moto is a community space in East Atlanta fostered by Bobby Russell and Jared Erickson. Their goal, as they put it, is to provide a location and resources for the “motocurious” to get their hands dirty. They provide the workspace, motorcycle lifts, and tools while it is up to you to provide the bike and the desire to make it better. It’s a place to go to ask questions, talk with other motorcyclists, and if all else fails, consult with the professional mechanic on hand to brainstorm and troubleshoot problems. There is also an espresso bar to fuel late-night projects.
It’s an innovative idea to make motorcycling accessible to people who are interested in bikes, but may be intimidated by the prospect of working on one or don't have the skills or garage space. Brother Moto encourages folks to stop by, check out what people are working on, and most importantly, to ask questions.
Unfortunately, Atlanta's Zoning Department has classified Brother Moto as a “repair shop.” The issue, then, is that zoning regulations allow only two repair shops in the area of East Atlanta where Brother Moto is located.
Co-founder Russell insists Brother Moto is not a repair shop. It is a co-op and retail space focused on benefiting both the community of East Atlanta as well as the motorcycling community as a whole. They have more than 100 members ranging in age from 16 to 60, with membership options ranging from $20 per month for the “Club Member” up to $175 per month for “The Partner” package. They hold community events and weekly rides and they are looking for members, not customers.
You can’t drop your bike off to get it fixed. Bobby and the rest of the crew want riders to fix their own bikes in a space that allows them to learn from others and pass on their own lessons learned. This is a fantastic departure from the traditional shop culture, where you might end up with a running bike but no knowledge of how it ended up that way. I think I heard a similar story once in regards to fishing.
Brother Moto is getting help at multiple levels. First, they met with their City Council representative, Natalyn Archibong. "She was really great and helped us realize some things that we could do to provide a better service for the community," said Russell. "We were also able to educate her more on what our vision is, and how we are a positive place for motorcycle enthusiasts to find community and work on their bikes in a safe and clean environment."
Attention has also been brought to Brother Moto's cause by a petition they started on the online petition site Change.org. They already have more than 5,000 signatures, and if you’d like to show your support, sign their petition.
In the meantime, if you find yourself in the Atlanta area, stop by 530 Flat Shoals Ave. and introduce yourself. While memberships are available, you don't need one to show up and hang out. Have a cup of coffee, check out some of the bikes being worked on, and make a few new friends. After all, that's what motorcycling is all about.