As transportation and infrastructure in LA becomes a more contentious conversation by the day, the men at Lucky Wheels Garage have quietly been working on their own solution to frustrating gridlock and parking woes. Downtown is slowly becoming more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, but the motorcycle still holds its own as more than just an efficient way to navigate everywhere from the 10 to Broadway. Making the jump from car to motorcycle can seem daunting for the uninitiated though, so Lucky Wheels Garage was created with the newbie and expert in mind. With that range of expertise on-hand, a community of motorcycle mentoring has been created by founders Ty Neff, Cameron Jones, and Jackson McGovern; three Texas transplants who are growing Downtown’s DIY motorcycle culture.
By its nature, the rider is much more connected to the motorcycle than a driver is to a car. This creates a unique relationship, a more ‘hands-on’ experience. That extends to routine maintenance as well, but often creates a major barrier of entry for those not brought up around bikes and wrenches. “We offer classes on how to work on your bike. If you’ve been riding for a few years and are tired of going to the dealer for oil changes, we have a class on how to do that; basic maintenance like brake checks and tires, how to keep it on the road. From that, all the way to how to weld. For those who want something custom, we teach the basics of fabrication,” Cameron explains.
“There’s a huge interest in motorcycles, but if people aren’t around bikes or people who have them, they usually don’t end up buying one,” says Cameron, “motorcycling can seem impenetrable to some people, we want to make it more accessible”. Ty adds, “There’s a lot to learn, and you can easily be made to feel stupid. We wanted to create a place where anyone of any skill level is welcome, a vibe that ‘if you’re good, help the other people. If you’re not, then watch, listen, and ask questions. Learn.” Jackson agrees, “Exactly. Foster a place where everybody works together, and achieve whatever project is going on, from small to large.”
For current riders of vintage to modern bikes in Downtown, the Garage is a ‘home away from home”, says Jackson. “In Downtown, people don’t have a lot of space to work on their bikes. It’s a haven.” Members take advantage of the classes, or just use the shop space and tools to do their own wrenching, rather than their apartment living rooms or out on the street. You’ll find old Harley Shovelheads to classic 70’s Honda CB350’s here, along with completely custom builds and Euro’s finest BMW and Triumphs; the range of projects makes it a learning experience for everyone. So whether you’re starting on your first project bike, or are a veteran, daily-driving lane splitter, Lucky Wheels is the place to lend a hand or lend an ear for the new wave of two-wheeling Downtowners.
Written by Scott Meisse
Photographed by Logan Havens
Videography by Kort Havens & Logan Havens