Kustom Kommune: 'Nice bikies' uniting over love of motorcycles
In the back streets of Collingwood in Melbourne's inner-north, there is a warehouse that is getting a reputation as a bit of a bikie hangout.
But in place of hardened criminals and standover men there are motorcycle enthusiasts looking for somewhere to work on their beloved vehicles in a city often short on garage space.
When it is suggested to Kustom Kommune co-founder Richie Baldwin that the affable, motley community he started could be considered the "nice bikies", he balks at part of the label.
"I wouldn't say we're bikies at all. [But] I would say we're nice," he said.
"Nice motorcyclists is probably the better way to put it."
Kustom Kommune has been open for 12 months.
Part mechanic workshop, part community space, it was conceived by friends Richie Baldwin and Jimmy Goode.
"We kind of came up with the idea that there must be other people out there after a space similar to this," Mr Goode said.
Everyone who's in here is so lovely. There's not attitude at all, everyone is helping each other out.Eddie James, workshop member
Through crowdfunding and other fundraising they got together more than $50,000 to open the workshop.
The Kommune started with 100 members but now has 320. All pay a yearly fee to access the workshop and tools.
At first it raised the interest of both the local council and police.
"We had a bit of interest from both, just to see what we were doing and make sure everything was okay," Mr Goode said.
"As they came in and met us and saw what was going on they were fine with it."
On the weekday morning we visit, about four people tinker away on their motorcycles, asking each other for advice and trying to fix the niggles that are part and parcel of owning an old bike.
Eddie James said she got a love of bikes from her former boyfriend, so was keen to get involved with the Kommune when it opened.
"Everyone who's in here is so lovely. There's not attitude at all, everyone is helping each other out," she said.
Media student Emelyne Palmer holds the Kommune's record for the fastest rebuild, taking two months to do up a 1971 Suzuki Stinger she found on a friend's farm.
"It was covered in rust and hadn't been turned on for at least a decade," she said.
"I remember wheeling it in and the guys were like 'oh my god'. The whole frame was completely rusted out and yeah, it didn't look anything like this except the tank, that's original.
"Sometimes I was here for eight hours a day just ripping it apart."
Ms Palmer said it was amazing completing such a big project given she had no previous mechanical experience.
"Putting it back together was like putting back a really big puzzle. It was challenging."
As Jimmy Goode helps Eddie James maneuver a split pin, he emphasises the Kommune's sense of community.
"Whether you ride a scooter or a sports bike or a race bike or a Harley it doesn't matter," Mr Goode said.
"It's just for the love of two wheels I guess, so yeah, everyone's welcome."