GOWANUS — Tearing down the open road on a motorcycle with the wind in your hair is one of life's greatest thrills, but owning a motorcycle in New York is a major drag.
One Gowanus entrepreneur is capitalizing on that disconnect with a service called Jupiter's Motoshare. Members pay a monthly fee for access to a fleet of European motorbikes, which they can check out library-book-style for a quick jaunt around the city or longer excursions to locales like Niagara Falls or Nova Scotia.
When they're done riding, members return the bike to Motoshare, then walk away from the hassles of owning a bike. Storage, insurance and maintenance are all handled by Motoshare.
Right now members hop on the bikes at Motoshare's garage in a former sweater factory on Eighth Street and Third Avenue. But in late July owner Chris Miles plans to launch what he believes is the country's first remote-access motorcycle share program, giving riders access to bikes at other locations in New York City, similar to how ZipCar works.
Miles is still hammering out details on the remote-access program, and for now is busy handling clients at Motoshare's Gowanus location, which is on track to have about 80 members by the end of the year. Memberships start at $108 a month for 10 days of riding per year.
Like the city's new Citi Bike share program, Motoshare is best for riders who want a bike for a one-time trip, not users who need guaranteed daily access for commuting.
"People don't come to us because they're trying to solve a transportation problem," Miles said. "I'm trying to get people that want to ride once in a while — this gives them a cheaper way to do that, and they can do it with nicer motorcycles that they actually want to ride."
The fleet includes a variety of machines so riders can sample different makes and models like wine lovers at a tasting. For longer trips where storage and comfort is a priority, there's the BMW 1200GS, which Miles recently used to haul five bags of groceries home from Fairway. For a quick adrenaline boost members can rent the Triumph Speed Triple, a bike that Miles' wife doesn't like him to ride.
Miles, a 34-year-old Carroll Gardens resident, fell for the joys of riding motorcycles when they were his main mode of transport while doing grad school research in China. He got his masters in public policy and public administration from NYU because he wanted to do good, and started Motoshare after he was laid off from a credit-rating agency during the 2008 financial crisis.
Miles sees Motoshare as part of the "collaborative consumption" movement, and says it fits in with the borough's entrepreneurial energy.
"In Brooklyn there's a big community for people that are trying to find different ways to do things," Miles said. "Technology has stepped in for people to be able to access other people's idle assets. We're figuring a way for people to access motorcycles."