For those who don't know, Kustom Kommune is a Melbourne gem. It's a DIY Community Motorcycle Workshop who predominantly provide a space, tools and services for you to be able to come in and work on or customise your bike whenever you like. It allows you to work on your bike yourself but there are always volunteers there to help you with anything you need. Kustom Kommune knows that the number of female riders is booming and they want to get the word out to our community about the need to maintain your machine and so have started these monthly women only wrench nights.
The wrench night we went along to was focusing on brakes. It was hosted by a wonderful volunteer by the name of Alex Gardener who really knew his stuff. We really loved the class, why? Alex was a great teacher and the vibe in the kommune was alive and exciting.
Alex took his time explaining the brake system from pads to discs to fluids and even had a bike up and pulled it apart as an example. We covered the basic maintenance as well as the importance of safety such as slowly testing the bike and easing it in before hitting the high speeds on the road to make sure the fluid change or pad changes etc have been successful. It was really interesting to be able to see him doing it rather than just listening and everyone was engaged. The best part was not only did he take his time but he answered every question and was more than happy to delve deeper and explain more if the group wanted it. He even ended the class showing us how to clean our chains because we were all interested, talk about going above and beyond! Thanks Alex, it was a great class!
We had the bike up on lift which enabled us to see everything that was happening and it turned out the guinea pig bike we used (from a class member) really needed to address some issues. But it's unless you do these classes or an emergency prompts us then it's easily forgotten to do basic maintenance. It was a reminder not only that we need to keep our machines maintained but how interesting and cost saving it can be to do it ourselves especially when sometimes one small thing can open a can of worms but better that than ignoring issues. Safety first!
The atmosphere in the Kustom Kommune was great. There was a women, not part of the group but off to the side, working on customising her bike. She was working away and it was really inspiring and what we loved was when she had a question, one of the volunteers was more than happy to come over and help her. There was someone welding away in the corner and another test riding his bike outside after some changes he made to his machine. The vibe in there was really great and we can't wait to go back to start working on our own machines.
Our friend Giang, who runs “Wrench Wenches” approached us about teaming up to create events that are specific for women. We thought a collaboration would be wonderful, as we can offer the space, tools and knowledge to host these women’s wrench events.
Ever since then, I made it my little personal mission to show that the motorcycle industry can be very inclusive and open to everyone.
I think the first thing is confidence. Women should get to know their bikes, get a better feel of when something sounds or feels wrong and be confident enough to stop and check their bike themselves. I would love women to feel confident in the motorcycle industry in general.
I know, that a motorcycle workshop can be quite intimidating for some women but once they come into the Kustom Kommune, they see what this space is really about; and that it's a big, caring and inclusive community sharing skills and knowledge around bikes!
I personally think, just give it a go. Start by making it a habit to check your bike really quickly every time you fill it up.
The more time you spend with your bike and checking it regularly, the better you get to know it and gain the confidence you need.
Also, social media is a wonderful platform. Just search for female riders in your area. Believe me, there’s more than you think! Catch up and learn together.
Also, get familiar with your manual book. It’s your bible.
No, our Women’s Wrench Nights are free. And that’s because I want women to feel as comfortable as possible to come in and join the classes.
I know that the less barriers there are, the easier it gets to overcome a situation you might be nervous about.
The next Women’s Wrench nights will be coming up on 4 December and then there will be more after the holidays. We keep everyone up to date on our socials and also via our website. Go check us out, and feel free to come in any time. To hang or to help you look over your bike.
If you or someone you know has attended one of these new Wrench Nights or you are an avid bike tinkerer then please do leave a comment here, we would all love to hear from you about your experiences.
We hope this has sparked an interest in you to maintain your machine and please do check out the Kustom Kommune website and support the motorcycle community. There are a lot of great maintenance videos on there for you to check out too.
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We have been lucky enough to speak with the lovely Andrea Lanagan of FRoC Female Riders of Canberra.
This Ladies Motorcycle Group was created by Andrea and friends and has grown into a 254 member group holding a number of rides and social events throughout the year for their members. Go girls!