By Dutch van Someren - 16 Sep 20
Since it’s inception in 2011, the Bike Shed has been a place of Common Ground, where people from all walks of life come together to share their passion for two-wheels, whether they ride a motorcycle of not. Within our community we also have a motorcycle club, for riders, but you do not have to be a member or a rider to enjoy our hospitality and unique experience.
In the spirit of our founder’s beliefs and backgrounds, all visitors leave their differences at the door to enjoy an inclusive, welcoming space, whoever they are and wherever they come from. Our founders, our team, our members, customers and regulars are all part of the same diverse moto-culture, and we all look-forward to sharing what we have created with everyone.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
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.
Over two years the blog grew to be one of the most popular commentators on the scene with a global following.
As the site grew, Dutch was joined by his wife Vikki, also an avid rider, and their 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 EVENT IN 2013
The first Bike Shed show featured 55 curated custom bikes from as far as Thailand, Portugal and the US, displayed 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 and tattoo pop-up, adding to the sense of lifestyle and theatre.
Ten shows later, the Bike Shed London Show at Tobacco Dock welcomed 18,000 people through it’s doors to see over 270 curated custom motorcycles, with 500 exhibitors, adding live music, a cinema and tattoo artists to this now world famous, world-class event.
Just after the second Bike Shed show, back 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.
THE SHOREDITCH VENUE
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/lounge/bar/shop/gallery is open to everyone – bikers, non-bikers and the general public – but we do also have a membership scheme for those who wanted to be part of a club, where we organise events and rides, and host regular members meetings and events.
Five years on and the Bike Shed now welcomes around 2,500 people through our doors every week, welcoming the who moto-community to our spaces, which are for the People Who Love Motorcycles, and the “People Who Love People, who Love Motorcycles”. At our centre lies a genuine motorcycle members club, but anyone can attend, i.e you don’t need to join the club, and you don’t need to ride or even own a motorcycle to enjoy our hospitality and a very warm welcome.
In early 2021, The Bike Shed will open it’s doors in the Los Angeles Arts District with a 30,000 square foot venue, providing everything that Bike Shed London has to offer, plus huge emporium multi-brand retail, a much larger restaurant, barbershop, tattoo studio and massive gallery space, with dedicated private spaces for BSMC members.
BEHIND THE BIKE SHED
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 over the following five years more than 50 individual investors have come together to form a group of petrolhead founders, providing skills, contacts and capital to launch the club. Almost all are dedicated biker riders – but all are passionate about automotive culture. Many investors are quiet about their involvement, but some are happy to be named, knowing their association will help us out, including Charley Boorman, Nick Mason, Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson.
There is no single investor-owner behind the Bike Shed. The club, website and event businesses are autonomously run by Dutch and Vikki, Stewart, and their friends and family; Ross, Gareth, Clare, James, Josh, Ellie, Veneta, Suzy, Alex, Jimbo, Anna, Tom, Gunn, Chef Peter and the two Dans, not forgetting our long-time cleaner and part-time mother to us all, Grace, along with another 30+ long-serving staff in the shop, kitchen and restaurant, and we look forward to adding to our team in the US very soon.
Most 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.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
We are now the largest independent motorcycle blog in the world, with the largest social media presence and a world class annual show, with new shows in the making. The venue attracts visitors from all over the world and as a pure hospitality venue we rank in the top 3% of all restaurants in London on Trip Advisor, which is down to great service – not just the good food.
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 track-days, 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.
Watch Video about the venue HERE
Watch Video about Bike Shed London HERE
Watch Video about Bike Shed Fest HERE
Watch Video about the Cafe Racer Cup HERE
See our YouTube Channel HERE.
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