April 4, 2015, 1:56 PM  |  Style

There’s a place that exists somewhere down the road beyond the intersection where wanderlust meets exhilaration.

It’s a place that’s found between holding on for dear life and truly letting go. In the middle lives a stillness that paws at your soul like a grizzly does its prey.

It’s a white-knuckled embrace of something counter-intuitive to self-preservation, and it’s found in the seat of any helicopter, sportster, cafe racer, motorcycle or dirt bike.

Traditionally, the sweet solace of this moving meditation has been enjoyed mostly by a few, but over the past several years Vancouver has become home to one of the most prolific and increasingly diverse motorcycle cultures in Canada.


Vancouver has become home to one of the most prolific and increasingly diverse motorcycle cultures in Canada. Photo by Derrick Mensch

There aren’t many people in the city who have witnessed the rise of this culture more than the gents down at The Shop, a local fixture for motorcycle parts and apparel on Columbia and Pender.

“Five years ago, there really wasn’t this craze for motorcycles that there is now,” explains The Shop’s manager Andrew Grace. “When I first got into bikes a few years ago, it was really just the dads, the old guys. There weren’t a lot of homies my age that were into motorcycles, but the last couple years… it’s crazy. Bikes have definitely spiked.”

One of the major catalysts for this boom in moto-madness is the sense of community that’s formed around the culture which may have been lacking in the past. The days of needing to fit into a ‘biker’ persona or belong to one group or another have been left behind in a cloud of smoke.

“Nowadays it really is everybody,” says Andrew. “It used to be that there were Harley guys and then sports bike people and other types. It was pretty fragmented, but now it doesn’t matter what you ride – two wheels and a solid attitude is what we look for in people.”

The Shop’s Third Annual Spit ’n Shine, one of the most eclectic assemblages of motorcycles this city has to offer, takes place July 18th and showcases the spirit of Vancouver’s motorcycle landscape.

spit and shine

Relaxing at the Spit ’n Shine. Photo by Donovan Patrick Mahoney

Once more of a guerilla-style event posted up directly in front of The Shop, the Spit ’n Shine has come to command a turnout that’s grown each year and now warrants a venue change to neighbouring Crab Park.

Andrew is adamant about what’s been a key factor in the success of a business that would’ve had a hard go of it ten or even five years ago. “The community is really what helps keep us going in this city,” he said. “We always have a hot pot of coffee on so people can just come down, meet other like-minded riders, go for rides and really just get to know one another.”

The streets of Vancouver have become a playground for a movement of two-wheeled motorists that welcomes any man or woman with a Class 6 license and a desire for the open road.

Whether you’re scraping together enough dough to get the cobwebs off your ’85 Honda CB, bringing your granddaddy’s Norton back to life, or customizing your brand new Harley, you and your ride are welcome additions to a tribe of like-minded intrepid spirits.

By Ash Middleton

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