The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club started in November 2011 as a blog about Anthony “Dutch” van Someren’s journey as modern sportsbike rider into the ‘new wave’ custom motorcycles everyone was reading about online – the cafe racers, brat-style, scramblers, etc. He wrote about the new bikes and builders on the scene, especially in the UK & Europe. The blog attracted a crew of friends and contributors, originally including custom builders Tim & Kev from Spirit of the Seventies, Adam from Untitled Motorcycles and Art Director Barry, from Two Wheels Only & Motorcycle Deluxe.
Many more friends joined in, when in May 2013 the Bike Shed blog migrated from a virtual community into hosting their first pop-up motorcycle event; “a celebration of the creative scene around motorcycle custom culture”. It started as a conversation in a pub.
The first Bike Shed show featured around 70 bikes across 2 arches in Shoreditch. It attracted 3,000 visitors – not just to see the custom bikes, but to enjoy art, photography, curated retailers and great food & hospitality. There was even a barbershop, adding to the sense of lifestyle and theatre.
After the second Bike Shed show in October 2013 conversations started around whether or not the Bike Shed could be a permanent place, committed to providing a unique destination for bike riders who wanted to combine their love of motorcycles with an honest desire for hanging out with cool, like-minded people in a club-like space with great food, great hospitality and comfortable surroundings. Not all bikers want spit & sawdust meeting places or to drink lukewarm builder’s tea in a motorway cafe with nothing but a melted KitKat to keep hunger at bay. It’s not about being posh, it’s simply a reflection of the improved world of hospitality we now live in, and much closer to the the way bike culture exists in rest of Europe and the US (why should they have all the fun), plus it’s more friendly for wives, girlfriends and people who are new to biking.
In November 2015, the Bike Shed motorcycle Club tentatively opened it’s doors on a 12,000 square foot venue across four renovated railway arches in the heart of it’s original home, Shoreditch, in Central London. The BSMC at 384 Old Street features a 100 seat cafe and restaurant, with bike parking on a private street for 60 bikes, along with a curated retail space, galleries for bikes and art, a barbershop and an event space, plus the BSMC’s offices, where four of the original Bike Shed show volunteers were joined by five others to run the events, website and club business, full-time.
The cafe/bar/shop/gallery is open to everyone – bikers, non-bikers and the general public – but we do also have a membership scheme. This is partly for those who want to support us, and partly to help with our license, as we have a A3 “Restaurant” license. This simply means (like many London venues) we can only serve alcohol to those who are also eating something (order some chips, scotch eggs or similar). Members can have a beer without ordering food. We hope that over time the council will relax these restrictions, but the upside is that we can turn people away – as Shoreditch can be a zoo on a Friday night.
There are plenty of rumours about how we came to be, and how we got the funds for this venture, but the truth is simple. Back in 2013 Dutch put together a business plan and showed it to a small group of Bike-riding would-be investors who he hoped might be willing to put some seed money into this unlikely dream. The seed money grew into a small fund that helped find the location in Shoreditch, and from there 31 separate investors came together to form a group of petrolhead founders, providing skills, contacts and capital to launch the club. Almost all are dedicated bikers. All are passionate about automotive culture. After a 18 months of hard graft, it all came together.
There is no single investor-owner behind the Bike Shed. The club, website and event businesses are autonomously run by Dutch, his wife Vikki and their friends and family, Ross, Gareth, Josh and Stewart. All of us are lifelong bikers, dedicated to creating the perfect space for all those interested in two wheels and adding to this growing new wave custom motorcycle community, which has now evolved into a proper Lifestyle motorcycle category.
We are now the largest independent motorcycle blog in the world, with the largest social media presence. We run three huge shows a year and plan to increase this number to five. In May 2017, 14,000 people visited our London show at Tobacco Dock and we expect a bigger and better show in 2018 on 25/26/27 May.
We sponsor and support other events and work as a close cooperative with other biking groups, clubs and businesses, supporting builders, riders and especially welcoming new people interested in getting on a bike. We also all ride every day, and many of us race, ride on trackdays, off-road, or have ridden some truly massive trans-continental trips.
All visitors are welcome to the Bike Shed, whether you ride or not, and despite a few beards and tattoos, and our Shoreditch location, none of us are hipsters – although any compliment that implies that we might be young, fashionable or cool will do.
There is a membership scheme, for those that wish to support us closely, but there is no need to be a member to support the Bike Shed or to visit our Shoreditch space. If you’re interested in membership, click HERE.
If all this doesn’t tell you enough about who we are, what we stand for or how we came about, come and see us at The Bike Shed and seek us out in person. Like any great custom project the space and the business are never finished, and as we learn we’ll strive to improve and upgrade. We hope you’ll appreciate all the hard work.