Motorcycles are a lifestyle. That lifestyle comes issued with a community of talented and genuine people. Many of those people have built a business from their passion, just as we have. By sharing these interviews we hope to introduce you to their businesses so we can all connect and help support our locals.
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Our ears pricked when we heard there was a small custom motorcycle rental business starting up down the road, so like the stickybeaks we are, we just had to find out more!
Introducing Oxford Street Garage. It's run by two lovely humans, Georgia and Tim, whom we had the pleasure of meeting last year between lockdowns. They were kind enough to drop in, introduce themselves and tell us all about their awesome motorcycle rental service they recently built together.
Being Melbourne based and a female-run business, supporting your local is in the blood of the business at Oxford Street Garage. The location has opened up the doors to a network of experts, in creating one-off custom motorbikes. This means that all of the bikes have been both up-cycled and hand-built by local Melbourne artists and craftspeople, to give what could have been old and abandoned bikes, a new lease on life.
Tell us about the birth of OSG. How & why did this business become?
Tim: I was trying to find a way to be involved in the motorcycle industry for a while and had been buying, fixing and selling motorcycles. I was also a member of Kustom Kommune and had been inspired by the community there.
When Covid hit, Georgia and I both found ourselves without jobs suddenly. I thought it was a great time to work on some customs and Georgia had been wanting to start her own business. Being in Melbourne, in the hardest lockdown in the world, it seemed like the perfect time to give it a go.
The funny thing is, we didn’t get to really focus on the business until the end of the year. Being self funded, financing the business was what we spent most of 2020 doing. We started building and selling planter boxes and I went back to work, so OSG became the side hustle. We still managed to build 5 customs in this time and got the business up and running for operations in early 2021.
When did you both start riding?
Georgia: It’s not your traditional story of growing up riding or being surrounded by it. We’d both describe ourselves as adventurous and willing to try anything. I think riding really fits into that category for us. Tim grew up in country NSW so was exposed to bikes a little growing up, but it really wasn’t until we went to the Philippines that we gave it a go.
It was probably the experience we had that day that sparked our passion. We rode to an active jail outside of Pueto Princesa and did a tour run by the prisoners themselves. It was a pretty surreal experience and something we wouldn’t have been able to do any other way. We saw local towns, ate lunch in a hut where there were no tourists and spoke to locals about their experience. It was a truly authentic experience.
When we returned to Australia, I bought Tim his learners course as a birthday gift, and the rest was history.
What bikes do you currently have available for hire?
We have a few bikes that are a WIP at the moment. Our next one will be a hippie culture inspired CB125. We also just nabbed a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 last weekend that we are hoping to get on the road pretty quickly.
This is the start of our custom collection for hire:
M A X . 2007 Honda, CB250
Engine Capacity: 248cc
Seating Capacity: 2 people
Max has been kitted out with a bigger tank, custom exhaust, yellow fog light, tracker bars and chunky dirt tires.
Ideal for: Dodging through city laneways or creating a storm down a rough dirt track. Short trips to the beach/across town. Fighting zombies or DIY Mad Max photoshoots.
W A Y A N . 2008 Yamaha, Scorpio
Engine Capacity: 225cc
Seating Capacity: 1
I N D I A . 2017 Royal Enfield, Classic 300
Engine Capacity: 246cc
Seating Capacity: 2 people
No customisation required on this one with Royal Enfield's classic design and super comfortable seat and position. What makes India unique is her Redditch Blue tank, a rarity on Australian roads.
Ideal for: Dodging through city laneways, short trips to the beach/across town, cruising down to the Mornington Peninsula, Cafe hopping to some of Melbourne's best.
C O L I N . 2006 Honda, CB250
Engine Capacity: 248cc
Seating Capacity: 2 people
A cafe racer inspired body with scrambler tires. Collin has a classic design with a custom sub frame, single speedo, after-market headlight, custom painted two-toned black and white tank and a diamond stitched ruby red seat.
Ideal for: Dodging through city laneways, short trips to the beach/across town, making a statement at the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride or in front of a classic Melbourne pub.
A N A . 2011 Honda, CB125e
Engine Capacity: 125cc
Seating Capacity: 1 person
I have only ever hired a bike for a touring holiday, are your bikes only limited to city riding?
We will be expanding our range to include larger capacity motorcycles in future. However, riders rent motorbikes for more than just touring holidays.
For example, if visiting family or friends in Melbourne, they may wish to have a bike to get around the city during their time here. Alternatively they may choose to take a day trip to Brighton and ride the coastal roads.
For these activities low capacity motorbikes may suffice, especially if it keeps the costs down. We also want to cater for a local market that may not be ready for the cost of buying their own motorcycle but still like to get out and ride occasionally.
Why is there a need for a service like Oxford Street Garage?
With international travel restrictions, we are seeing people look for other ways to seek adventure, particularly ones close to home. This has created a new generation of riders, ones who care more about experiencing something new and different rather than mechanics of the motorbike.
Custom culture (or cafe-racer culture) has been growing in the motorcycle world for some time now and there are limited ways to access this if you don't have the funds or time to spend on a lavish motorbike of your own. We want to make this world more accessible to those who have longed for it.
What do you mean when you say OSG is “carbon neutral”?
It means we offset all carbon emissions made as a business, this included office costs as well as the emissions made from the rentals themselves. We do this by opting into programs which invest in carbon reducing projects e.g. planting trees. This article has a good explanation of how it all works. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/what-is-carbon-offsetting/
We also look at ways in which we can make our products as efficient as possible, e.g. vehicles are newer than 2000, looking into electric alternatives for future projects
Tim & Georgia source out the ugly ducklings of motorcycles which could easily end up in landfill and they combine their skillset to strip back those bikes and revamp them with style & comfort front of mind giving them new purpose.
Who is responsible when it comes to work & maintenance on your machines?
Georgia: It’s definitely a split workload, we try to share everything throughout the business as a whole, but we do have a bit of a lead and follow approach. So Tim takes the lead when it comes to mechanical work, whereas I have taken the lead on the backend of the business.
We both love the design component so collaborate a lot on this and build on each others ideas. I have been doing a bit of paint work and will be doing a course this year to improve my skills in this area. We still work with local painters to do feature pieces, like tanks, but I’d love to learn how to paint the engine.
For anything we’re not 100% on, we’ll outsource it to a specialist in that area. We do all the custom work prior to roadworthy inspection and registration so that we know we’re meeting the industry standards.
Over in the corner I can see a big retro BMW waiting for some TLC, what are the plans there?
Tim: This is our 1979 BMW R65, we just picked it up the other week. Georgia has been begging for an R series for a long time. We’re still debating which direction to go in with this one. Georgia loves the classic style of the R series bikes and I’d love to do something like the 80s, Berlin style with neon pink stripes.
Georgia: I think Tim might win this one, but we do have some other projects in the pipeline that will feature some pretty wild artwork.
We haven’t named this one yet, but we tend to lean on the heritage of the bike or something about it’s style, so I’m thinking we will pick a German name.
We also have a miami style tank, a 70s 125 and an electric postie in the pipeline!
Can you elaborate on how your business is “inclusive”?
Tim: We are happy to go into detail about every aspect of the bikes and encourage you to ask questions no matter how silly or basic you think they may be.
There can be a fair bit of ego in the industry around how long you’ve been riding, what bike you own, how many CC’s you have, or what mechanics you know. The reality is, it’s quite complex and if you didn't grow up around motorcycles or have friends who ride it can be a very intimidating culture/community to get involved in.
Georgia: OSG is a judgment-free business, we are happy to share all of our knowledge with you or if you want to jump on and ride away with no questions asked, go for it!
Women are a big part of this. As a female it can be rather intimidating to walk into any moto business. We want a space where people of all genders and backgrounds can feel comfortable and welcomed.
Can learners, interstate and international riders use your services?
Anyone with a full licence is eligible to hire a bike, you can rent a motorcycle with an international licence but you will require an international driving permit and passport. You may carry a pillion if the motorcycle you have states it has a two person capacity.
When we started the business, we actually planned to package it as a learner subscription model. When you start riding, you tend to outgrow your bike really quickly and want to try different styles.
With the subscription, you can loan one of our bikes until you grow out of it and then upgrade to the next one. Unfortunately, as a new business, we couldn’t find insurance that would cover us for learners and provisional licences, so this might be a future endeavour.
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A special thanks to Georgia, Tim and Pablo the Pug for showing us around their garage and also letting us utilise their bikes & tools for our most recent User Manual blog.
Whether you want to rent yourself an awesome custom bike, support Oxford Street Garage in general or just say hi to Georgia & Tim, do reach out and show your support to these locals.