I’d been hearing stories of Cleveland’s legendary Skidmark Garage for years, had even driven by in search of the mythical Garage door, but only recently managed to find that mysterious portal. A hidden treasure deep in the old-world industrial wilds of Cleveland that, unlike treasures of yore, actually wants to be found. Though few local motorcyclists have found Skidmark Garage, those that have will tell tales of discovering a wondrous home for ALL riders. Gender, race, culture, background, are all irrelevant- as long as one leaves anger and attitudes outside the fence. If you can do that, welcome to Cleveland’s coolest community garage!
Founder Brian Schaffran is a former school teacher and one of a group of driven young individuals who believe in community, believe in Cleveland, and have collectively decided to BE the difference in creating community. Cleveland is seeing a resurgence, brought by younger folks moving in to the urban cool of city life and leaving the suburbs to their folks. For some, a downside is losing the convenience of individual garages and leaving moto-enthusiasts without places to store, repair, or create. Life in Cleveland can be awesome, but no rider of (more-or-less) sound mind wants to give up their motorbikes for a place to live! Enter Skidmark Garage to expand one’s options and rock the urban moto landscape.
The idea for Skidmark Garage began as a place to rent a bay, complete with motorcycle lift and tools, and avoid doing repairs at the curb. The concept quickly expanded to be a place where the broader riding community could find a place to hang out among fellow riders. One can still rent a bay/ tools hourly, but a yearly membership comes with full access to the garage, yearly motorcycle storage, and the full social experience that makes this unique moto-community happen. Membership is open to anyone and everyone EXCEPT douchebags (Skidmark’s description, not mine). Apparently, they had such a member at one time, but the “no douchebag” rule was invoked, and he was immediately kicked out. Knowing this rule, check out the website FAQ to decide if Skidmark is for you- though just reading it means you’re probably a perfect candidate! The only other major rule is, everyone is expected to help one another. No experience or mechanical knowledge? No problem IF you’re willing to learn. No one is going to do your work for you here, but everyone will be happy to lend a hand if it’s all new to you- and you can pass that knowledge to the next new rider that comes by. There are tools, donated parts, and materials enough to build bikes from scratch – and many have done just that. Look around and appreciate the creativity! If you need a tool that is not available, ask- one may magically appear for your use. From oiling a chain to welding a custom tank, someone will be happy to help you learn a new skill. Then, when you’ve cleaned up from a job well done, you’ll find Skidmark Garage is not just about working on bikes.
Walk further back into the fabled Garage, and you’ll find a community room with couches, entertainment, refreshments and plenty of bench racing. Skidmark Garage regularly hosts local artists, performers, and an occasional ‘how-to” seminar from a local pro. There are cookouts, parties, special events, even weddings! Of course, no proper motorcycle garage would be complete without rides, meets and bike shows, and Skidmark has plenty of those as well. One of the biggest events for Skidmark Garage is the yearly Fuel Cleveland event, coming up July 28, 2018. Fuel Cleveland is a gathering of local builders and enthusiasts, as well as motorcycle-themed artists, photographers and more. A great opportunity to hang out with a bunch of cool folks with even cooler bikes and experience the Garage without pressure. Be sure to check out the Skidmark Garage website or Facebook page for updated events.
The bottom line is; dudes and dudettes that ride anywhere in the Cleveland area (or just dig motorbikes) gotta’ do yourselves a favor and stop by Skidmark Garage. It may seem intimidating at first, but you need to step out of your comfort zone for a moment, step away from the trap of first impressions, and say “hey” to the first person you see. You’ll be amazed by the sense of embrace from a great group of people that will draw you in and keep you coming back. At Skidmark they refer to their community as “No-Collar”, and once you start talking with folks, I defy you to pick the wealthy professionals from the scrappy laborers. We’re all just people who like bikes when we’ve stepped through the legendary Garage door, and this is our cave. All are welcome at Skidmark Garage!
Keep Riding Local, Dreaming Global, and I’ll see you on the road- or in Skidmark Garage!
Author’s aside: Beyond Skidmark Garage, watch for more from Brian Schaffner in the near future as his contributions to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio continue to grow in significance, creating stories for another day.