RVA motorcycle enthusiasts and riders now have a space to tinker with their bikes, rent tools and get their bikes fixed thanks to a local certified Harley-Davidson mechanic.
Cory Manning revved up his non-profit community garage and repair shop, Engine and Frame in Shockoe Valley this spring to create a place for riders to work on their bikes while providing the tools and space that they may not necessarily have.
The inspiration behind the idea came from a shop in Baltimore that allowed riders to bring in their bikes and do the work themselves. The DIY route is a much more rewarding experience according to Manning, who got the ball rolling for the startup a little over a year ago.
“It’s way more satisfying,” said Manning. “When I built my first bike and rode it home to my garage, it was the best feeling. It feels better knowing you did it yourself, especially when it comes to old stuff- you’re taking a bunch of parts someone has already had fun with and you’re kind of bringing that fun back almost. It’s like a collection of fun energy.”
When Manning set out to build his own bike, it quickly became an inconvenient process. The facility he used in 2012 was very restrictive, and he didn’t have the tools required for the job.
“I wanted to build a chopper, a full ground-up build,” said Manning. “I rented a small garage in The Fan for $150 a month, split with two other guys. We had one power outlet and no goddamn tools, and it took forever.”
For riders who live in apartments, something as simple as changing your oil requires doing it in the street. In short, it’s no easy task to perform maintenance or work on a motorcycle without the proper tools and adequate space.
Engine and Frame, located at 1600 Valley Rd., seeks to provide these for Richmond riders, offering both hourly rates for $15 and monthly memberships for $120.
“If you just want to come in and change the oil, then that’s just an hourly rate,” said Manning. “If you want to do some heavier shit like put a bike together or build a bike, then it makes more sense to get a membership. As long as I’m here, you can be here.”
For the less experienced riders, Manning willingly answers any questions they may have while working on their bikes, free of charge.
“I’ll answer questions for free and make sure you don’t screw anything up,” said Manning. “It gives them a double boost of confidence.”
The organization has three members thus far, and has attracted ten or eleven people to come in and work on their own stuff. And although it’s a non-profit organization, Engine and Frame doubles as a business, offering full service on bikes for riders who don’t want to or can’t work on their motorcycles themselves.
Manning himself is working on three bikes at the moment.
“The members I have, those guys have gotten more done in a week than they did in the past year on their bikes,” said Manning. “Just because they get in here and they’re motivated.”
One of the members, Colin Lenahan, is using Engine and Frame to rebuild a bike. Before the community garage, Lenahan was building his bikes in the living room, a method he described as a pain in the ass, especially without the necessary tools. There was no alternative for him until the community garage was started.
“They’ve got everything I need to do what I’m getting done,” said Lenahan. “It’s a cool spot.”
Riders that Lenahan already knew have taken in their bikes for maintenance, and he foresees Engine and Frame taking off in a good way, feeling that the garage creates a community feel among those who use it.
Manning is looking to expand the garage and what it offers, with plans of hosting workshops and swap meets in the near future. The first workshop will be held on August 12th, and the Dixie Swap Meet will be hosted on June 4th.
“I want to grow and be able to provide other things,” said Manning. “It would be super rad if I could get it to a point where we’re almost a one-stop shop. I want to grow and see how far this thing can go.”
For bikers that have yet to use the community garage, Lenahan offers words of encouragement.
“If you ride bikes and you’re in Richmond, don’t be afraid to go down there and hang out,” said Lenahan. “Say what’s up. You got something to do, it’s definitely the place to go do it.”