Live in an apartment in L.A. but like to work on bikes? You could do what I used to, which is wrangle a friend into helping you bring a CB750 up a flight of stairs and onto your balcony, or join the Lucky Wheels Garage.

For years now all the cool stuff in L.A. has been sliding eastward, and this shop is no exception. Located at 255 N. Mission St., it is actually east of what the hip folks call the "East Side", east of Sunset becoming Caesar Chavez, east of the L.A. river and almost into East L.A. proper. It's nearest neighbors are a rail yard and a hot sauce factory, which means they have plenty of space and no one to complain about the sound and fury of bikes being built and tuned.

André Pinces<br />

The concept of a membership DIY shop is not new –– just look at all the Bicycle Kitchen spin offs and knock offs out there –– and neither is the biker clubhouse, but those typically come with club drama and initiations. Lucky Wheels Garage combines pay-by-the-month shop space with an upstairs lounge area, a vast assortment of tools and equipment, storage, and technical know-how for the clueless. All that for just $100 a month, pay as you go, with no long-term commitment or initiation fee, and no club to join.

Storing a bike there will run you extra, but your membership does include a generous sized storage shelf for parts –– enough room for that engine you are overhauling.

André Pinces<br />

Sure, if you already live in a place with a garage, that membership fee could get you pretty well equipped over the course of a year or so, but not with everything these guys have. In addition to all the hand tools and typical power tools, this shop also has soda and glass bead cabinets, a powder coating gun and oven, drill press, tubing bender, frame jig, and TIG, MIG, and oxy/acetylene welding set ups.

And, while I am pretty much a hermit while working in the garage, most people will appreciate the company and a place to chill out after breaking off or stripping out that last important screw.

André Pinces<br />

Ty and Jackson, two of the three owners, started the place just 7 months ago and already have about 50 members, which they tell me is more than enough to keep the lights on and the door open. Like any good start-up, they are plowing any extra money they see right back into buying more tools and equipment for the shop.

André Pinces<br />

You would think a place like this would end up a victim of its own success, with 12 members all vying for the four bike lifts on any given Saturday morning, but so far they have managed it. Everyone stays civil, and cooperates to keep things from becoming either a mess, or a bureaucratic nightmare (think: tool sign-out sheets and reservations). The whole shop is pretty much on the honor system and tools are allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Got a bike you are hiding from your significant other, or parents? They won't judge you here, though they will ask for an extra $50 a month to keep it. This isn't such a bad alternative for folks with limited space, or who live by the beach in the salt air, and have a vintage bike, dirt bike, or race bike they only take out occasionally.

Bikes like that are always being tweaked anyway and keeping it on the dry east side will keep it from rusting or fading in the sun. Bike storage space is limited, though, which is why it costs extra.

Angle grinder spark pictures are mandatory when talking about any hip shop<br />André Pinces<br />

Are you hopelessly lost, with not much money, not much know how, and visions of BikeExif running through your brain? Don't worry, for less than you'd pay hourly at your dealer's service department you can get one-on-one coaching in tons of different how to topics. And for nothing at all you can often find another member willing to help you figure it out.

André Pinces<br />

For the experienced who are doing more than just routine maintenance, Lucky Wheels Garage also has a "builder's box" where, for an extra fee, you can reserve your own roped-off lift and space for several bikes, and do a total teardown and rebuild/customization in your own time.When the day is done, or you are just finished because of how the project is going, the upstairs lounge is waiting for you. You'll have to stock the fridge yourself, but there is pool, darts, a comfortable place to sit, and occasional movie nights or jam sessions.

I can practically read the comments bemoaning how "The new RideApart is catering to hipsters" and "What does this have to do with serious riding?", well all these things are just meat and veggies in the stew of motorcycling. Without shops like this, young know-nothing hipsters will never learn and become wise and wizened, grey haired know-it-alls like ourselves.

Ty (standing) and Jackson, I feel like only one of these guys knew a photographer was coming<br />André Pinces<br />

You may remember last month when myself, Big Jim Downs, and Sasha won the mechanical bull riding contest at the Velvets MC charity event. That was here, in the back of the shop. They are all about being a positive force in the L.A. motorcycle community, and have hosted several other events here as well.

Left to right: (author) Bryan

You can stop by anytime they are open and see what they have to offer, it isn't as if you need to know a secret password in order to get through the doors You can even get a day pass for $25 if there is some pressing job you need to do and can't do it at home.

André Pinces<br />

Lucky Wheels Garage is located at 225 N. Mission Rd, Los Angeles, California, 90033, just east of downtown L.A. and right off the 101 freeway.

They are typically open from noon to 10pm, Monday to Thursday, noon to 8pm Friday, and 10am to 8pm Saturday and Sunday.

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