Spreading the Gospel of Grease: Moto Guild Chicago

Anders Carlson visits Moto Guild Chicago, a new communal motorcycle workspace.

| July/August 2017

Sometimes, everything old is still just old. If it was new, it would run. What fun would that be? And therein lies the charm of vintage motorcycles. As a cure for the incomprehensibly complex world of rider aids, traction control and even fuel injection, old bikes offer that most elusive quality — simplicity.

Simplicity is just the thing for new riders, the gateway drug to the harder stuff. It’s easy to see why new riders are drawn to old bikes. To the uninitiated, a free basket case or a $200 project bike is just a weekend’s worth of work away from tearing down country roads or sparking motorcycle lifestyle photo shoots. All you need is gas, air, spark and elbow grease to hurtle you down lonesome highways. Right?

Most of us know the answer to that question as a punch line to a joke. But every one of us started our motorcycle love lives knowing nothing.

Hard-won wisdom from lengthy projects and restoration pitfalls isn’t cynicism, it’s tempered optimism. Newcomers just need a guiding hand and some invaluable resources to make naïve dreams a reality. Hipster-this or trendy-that, it doesn’t matter. The world is a better place with more hands resurrecting old bikes.

Enter Tony Riccardi. Sometimes necessity is the mother of all invention. And sometimes it’s just inconvenience. Tony explains: “I spent my adult life in Printer’s Row, in downtown Chicago, wrenching on my bike in a parking spot. I always wondered why there was nothing in Chicago to facilitate people working on motorcycles together?”

This led to an insight. Street-wrenching and losing bolts in the dark sucked. What if you could wrench on bikes and get access to all the tools you needed while hanging out with fellow enthusiasts and people smarter than you? Tony wasn’t the only person to ponder this question.

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