Words: & Images: Kashi Mai Somers
Earlier this year Matthew Hurst started The Humble Vintage, Melbourne’s special vintage bike hire. Six months on he can use Creative Suite, dink two bikes at a time and can appreciate the natural benefits of biking around even more. Kashi Mai Somers rode his special café’s route and chatted with him along the way, finding out how these sweet bikes are better than their mountain cousins and which ‘culture’ is important to Matt.
Kashi Mai Somers: Hey Matt, you’re renting bikes now. Where did this all come from?
Matthew Hurst: About six months ago I finished working in my 9-5 and on a whim flew off to Buenos Aires. While I was there I rode around on this rad rickety old bike, came home and inspired by that, got my fleet together. I’ve got a fair few bikes now, and they all have their own special ways. They’re vintage, obviously, but have all been restored and sort of have the feel of your friend’s bike you borrowed for the afternoon.
That’s how I want it to be too. I want people to have a really personal connection to the bikes, and also for it to feel like there is a friend who has a bike just up the road, and you’re okay to borrow it whenever you like.
Well, for $25!
KMS: Is that how you do it? People just come over to your place and pick up their “friend’s” bike?
MH: Well it was like that in the beginning. I’d ride the bike to a meeting spot, swap them the lock keys for some dollars and jump on the tram home. Or they’d come to my place.
Now I have a couple of spots that house Humble Vintage bike racks. People can rent from 1000 Pound Bend in the city, Idaho Vintage Clothing in St Kilda and Seven Seeds in Carlton. There are a few more places popping up soon too.
I do still do it the old way for fun as well. I do want to keep that feel and I like having the chat and the interaction.
Plus I recently learnt how to “ghostie”, and even what that means [riding a bike, pulling along another], which definitely helps with the bike returns.
KMS: Do you think renting bikes out is anything new?
MH: Bike rental is obviously not new in Melbourne, but I think what’s out there is stale and the concept is really undeveloped… I mean there can be a lot more to it than racks of unappealing mountain bikes rented by the hour [as is practice in the CBD of Melbourne, and in most cities currently].
Melbourne’s a place with an amazing bike involvement, yet there wasn’t a service aimed at expressing and sharing this with people who didn’t have their own wheels, with people that seek culture and creative stuff too.
I guess I wanted to create something that allowed a traveler to walk into a cool café near their hotel, pick up a lovely vintage bike and blend in the with locals. Then be given a map of things to discover on special riding routes, a mini publication with some great bike-style editorial and for them to enjoy this city. Or a local with the same interest.
KMS: Where’s the map and publication coming from – are you doing that too?
MH: Yes! I’ve been working on the summer one for a little while, and appear to have taught myself Illustrator in the process.
The map is of Melbourne and has some special riding route’s I’ve discovered, plus I’ve made sure there are some secret cafe’s, shops, things I like doing in there. As a biking local you find things down little streets that others miss out on, and I thought it would be nice to include that kind of stuff.
The publication is on the other side of the map (the paper will come out seasonally) and has small features on biking history, cool cultural things on in the season, people’s stack stories, that sort of thing. I wanted it to be relevant to bikers that pick it up in cafe’s too, not just the people that rent from me.
KMS: So it’s more about culture on bikes, rather than “bike culture” specifically?
MH: Exactly. Lot’s of people ask me questions about my contributing to biking culture and how it feels to be part of Melbourne’s bike culture etc.
I think The Humble Vintage is not focused on “bike culture” – it’s not about fixies or lycra weekend power cyclists, it’s more about people getting around and having an explore of Melbourne and its culture on bikes.
So yes, it has lots more to do with people who like bikes getting involved with cultural things in Melbourne, rather than contributing to a club of sorts.
KMS: On the eco front, biking is obviously a “saving earth” tip we’ve all been told time and time again. What do you think about this?
MH: I think it’s important, but much like not being part of a bike “culture”, I don’t want to tote “eco” as my businesses pitch. I do ride a bike, but I don’t ride a bike because it’s eco, it’s a great secondary factor that I appreciate.
I guess I just hope that the people who rent bikes from me are aware of the environment in general. And that people who aren’t might be biking along on one of the Humble fleet one day, and think “this is fun – I’m going to buy myself a bike” and then that’s one less car out there.
Or a visitor to the city who is interested in biking from an eco stand point shouldn’t be forced to hire something that’s not as lovely looking as their wheels at home.
The Humble Vintage is an eco business whether people are educated, considered, knowing or not, just because bikes by nature are [eco friendly].
KMS: So it’s been six months now, what for the next six?
MH: I’m excited about the biking publication I will put out in a few weeks, that is the next really important thing for The Humble Vintage. It’ll extend what visitors can experience, and there are some funny anecdotes that I think readers will enjoy. Then there’ll be the next edition of that, and I’m over to New York for a little visit too.
There is bike enjoyment, bike culture, bike obsession, bike everything there, so it will be interesting to see what people think about what I’m doing, and even just to look at all the bikes over there.
I’m just focusing here with The Humble Vintage at this very moment, but am always interested in other places that love bikes…and it’ll be cool to see if I can rent one there like mine.
KMS: The final and most important question now Matt. Can you ride with no hands?
MH: Yes! My hot tip is to sit up straight and look far ahead. My friend says put your hands together on your chest with your elbows out to the side.
KMS: Like in prayer?
MH: Yeah, pray you don’t fall off.
The Humble Vintage
Next Article: Harold David – Uniform
Words: & Images: Kashi Mai Somers