Moto Guild Silicon Valley: DIY Made Easy

Techies & the art of motorcycle maintenance

outside of moto guild silicon valley building
Moto Guild Silicon Valley in San Jose, CA.Patrick Feehan

Despite all the marketing promoting fun and adventure, riding a motorcycle is serious business. And for those wanting to maintain their bikes, the business of do-it-yourself has just taken a turn for the better in the form of maker spaces popping up around the country. Moto Guild Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif. is one such space.

The Moto Guild DIY concept is simple: bring in your bike, rent lift space, and all the tools and tutelage are included. You’re the one working on your bike, and for some riders it can be daunting at first, especially those with limited mechanical experience. But those obstacles are dropped almost immediately in the low-kay environment. Basic and intermediate classes are offered for a fee, and riders can also store their bikes for a monthly fee.

Ambition -- as well as the cost of living -- runs high in the epicenter of technology. Owner Patrick Feehan is a Chicago native who opened Moto Guild Silicon Valley two years ago after deciding that DIY motorcycle maintenance could succeed on the peninsula where Facebook, Apple, NASA, LinkedIn and Google call home. He was a regular customer of Moto Shop San Francisco, run by Aleks and Wilder Grippo, who opened their doors in 2011. Feehan would run their shop when track days or a much-needed vacation pulled the Grippos out of the shop.

Feehan was drawn to the hands-on entrepreneurial pull of a DIY motorcycle shop, and with the Grippo’s blessing and business model based on licensing and consulting, opened Moto Guild Silicon Valley across the street from Orchard Supply Hardware on Auzerais near I-280 in San Jose. With the licensing expansion, Moto Shop became Moto Guild in 2015; the Grippos relocated their shop to Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, and Feehan’s pal Tony Riccardi opened Moto Guild Chicago on Grande Avenue in October 2015. Greg Hassler opening Moto Guild Philly in 2016. Each shop is independently owned and financed.

The Bay Area is enjoying a glut of new riders. We’ve always had a large riding community in these parts, and thanks to (or despite) the tech world riches, more men and women are getting their M-Class, buying bikes and gear, and riding to work and for pleasure.

But they don’t just want to ride, they also want to maintain their new machines. And because of limited storage space and the specialty tools required, it’s nigh unto impossible to work on one’s own bike, unless you saunter into Feehan’s maker’s space.

There you’ll find workstations and lifts specifically for motorcycle maintenance and repair, plus all the tools needed for the job. Want to replace your tires? Learn how on Feehan’s equipment. Want to change your rotors, brake pads or oil? Feehan has you covered as well. Not sure how a motorcycle works from the inside? Feehan has an encyclopedic mind on nearly every bike ever made, fueled by his ever-present tall cup of cheap gas station coffee from the Chevron down the road.

He teaches group classes, and hires area experts to lead others. He’s also offering affordable storage space, something several riders would benefit from around the Silicon Valley. Feehan is an easy going fella who likes to spin a yarn in between spinning wrenches. And he rides like Guy Martin’s wallet, as I’ve experienced a couple times chasing him down Highway 84 toward Pescadero.

I've worked on my three bikes at Feehan's shop, and have befriended folks from Michigan, Minnesota, Canada, Illinois and several states in between. Feehan's customers come in all shapes, sizes, and socio-economic backgrounds. The owners of custom bikes, beaten-up commuters, vintage machines and hopped-up Triumph Scramblers and Ducati Panigale's coexist peacefully. Couples share date night over greasy rags, and people from several ethnic groups gravitate to other lifts to lend a hand. Silicon Valley is a second home for many, and like anywhere else, can be a lonely place unless you step out and meet other people.

Community is at the heart of any successful business. The Moto Guild model is slowly spreading coast to coast, bringing together like-minded people with a love for riding. And the DIY motorcycle space offers hands-on gratification, something our digital society seems to be enjoying these days, especially in the heart of Silicon Valley.