BUCKET LIST: Naked Racer Moto Co, Cheltenham, Victoria
By Brett Murray
Thursday 27th August, 2020 - 4:00pm
With the motorsport world on hold, and travel bans in place for Australia, you might be forgiven for contemplating a future escape.
Speedcafe.com has worked to develop a list of dream places, events and experiences for fans of motorsport and motoring for you to tick off your Bucket List.
NAKED RACER MOTO CO, Cheltenham, Victoria
Here is a word of warning.
If you are heading to the Naked Racer Bar Cafe, you might leave with more than just the taste of a good burger on your lips.
The Naked Racer Moto Co is the ultimate destination for bike enthusiasts and regular humans just looking for a cool place to hang out.
The headquarters, which is based on the edge of the Moorabbin Airport in Cheltenham Victoria, combines the bar and cafe, a motorcycle museum and a fully functioning workshop which handles everything from road worth certificates to full restorations and customisations.
Starting as a small motorcycle shop back in 1988, the business has become a real destination for people looking for an “escape” thanks to the vision and input from founder and operator, Johnny Gee.
“I started importing bikes from America to restore and sell,” said Gee.
“I was a single parent and this allowed me to make a living while taking care of everything else. People caught on to what I was doing and wanted me to bring bikes in for them.
“In the end, I had dozens and dozens of containers coming in. It all just evolved from there and happened out of pure accident really.”
Naked Racer Moto Co now houses around 300 motorcycles of which about “60 or 70” are owned by Gee.
And while some mean more to him than others, “everything is for sale at a price” — although some of those price tags would be quite large.
While there is plenty of cool old stuff, Naked Racer Moto Co is also an authorised dealer for Indian Motorcycles, and a section of new bikes sit outside during the day as well as being scattered through the building.
Also dotted throughout this ultimate man cave is an eclectic mix of cool stuff like pinball machines, petrol pumps, antique metal signs, model aeroplanes, posters, scooters, mini-bikes, trophies, toys, furniture and neon signs and that’s before we have scratched the surface.
Seriously, you could spend hours in this place and not see the same thing twice, and that’s before you spot the stuff hanging from the roof.
Bolted on to the side of the “museum” is the original workshop which has a service team with more than 125 years of collective experience repairing, servicing, restoring and manufacturing parts for new and old motorcycles. It is also an authorised service centre for Indian and Victory.
The nature of the Naked Racer Moto Co means it attracts many regular enthusiasts who are as different and unique as the collection of paraphernalia in the museum.
Because of its popularity, it was a natural progression to create the Classic Racer Club which goes for a ride every Saturday morning when COVID-19 restrictions are not in place.
It is also an officially-registered body where members can register as many vehicles as they like as long as they are 25 years or older.
The club has also done many international tours to the US, Asia and Europe.
While the weekend rides have been temporarily suspended, the bar and cafe has also been reduced to about 20 percent of its trade with takeaway and deliveries only.
Regular workshop business like road worthies and tyres has also been hit hard with regular customers in lockdown, but a backlog of more extensive restoration work has kept things ticking along.
While the bar and cafe is a real focal point of the property now, it also evolved “by accident”.
“We really just started with a coffee machine and giving guests free coffee,” said Gee.
“Then you sort a couple of staff to handle that and you quickly realise how much that costs.
“So we had to bring it up to a level where it could pay for itself and it has developed into what we have today.”
What the Naked Racer Cafe will offer when things get back to “normal” will be a pleasant surprise beyond the great burger selection and regular Saturday night entertainment.
While Gee is as frustrated as every other Victorian with the current pandemic environment, he maintains an upbeat attitude which is almost a reflection of the bikers’ playground he has created.
“You just need to always really look on the bright side,” said Gee.
“We have used this time to extend our kitchen, build a Western town out the front and just make sure everything is even better when we get the chance to go back to normal.
“We are fortunate we have had enough to keep us busy.”
You can be sure that once Victoria comes out of lockdown there will be one hell of a party in the backstreets of Cheltenham, led by the Naked Racer crew.
And if you are heading there to take care of your thirst and appetite, just be aware that you might just come away with a new set of wheels, or at least a cool tee-shirt and hoodie.
|Address||1 Grange Rd, Cheltenham VIC 3192|
|How to get there||The Naked Cafe. is 48km South-East of the Melbourne, Airport. And 14.8km South-East of the Melbourne CBD|
|Opening Hours & Tickets||During COVID-19 Naked Cafe is open for takeaways and delivery 07:00-15:00; 17:00-20:30 7 days a week: Check website for on-going updates. Entry is free. The workshop is open daily|
|Phone||+61 3 9583 9922|
|Additional tip||Make sure you have a few extra bucks in your pocket. You will end up buying more than a burger|