MODAK, probably the oldest operating motorcycle shop in Australia, has closed. The famous Elizabeth Street motorcycle precinct is poorer for it.
Spot On Motorcycles is moving out of Elizabeth Street too.
That leaves only Mars Leathers, Yamaha City and Peter Stevens in the original motorcycle precinct. Very sad. The Street was a major part of Australia’s motorcycle history.
The first motorcycle shop in Elizabeth Street, and probably Australia, was opened by the Milledge Brothers in 1903. That’s 115 years ago.
Elizabeth Street was/is a creek. It was the place to catch a coach to the gold fields in the 1800s. Then a gathering place for horsemen and riders. The creek was covered but it’s still there.
It was a recruiting place for riders for Victoria’s WW1 motorcycle regiment. Riders took their own bikes to war.
After WW1 it became a social hub for the motorcycle community when motorcycle competition was a huge spectator sport in Melbourne. Harold Parsons blew the world away on his Indian.
After WW2 Elizabeth Street boomed with prosperity and new bikes becoming available.
In the early 1980s the original Motorcycle Riders Association established its’ HQ there. This was a time when riders rights were really important. Just one of the legacies from those years is Victoria’s footpath parking law.
In 1987 the 10th MRA TOY RUN was held in Elizabeth Street. It was opened by Lord Mayor Leckie Ord. World Champion Wayne Gardner was guest of honour. He was introduced to 12,000 riders by past Lord Mayor Trevor Huggard. The MC was comic Rod Quantock. The Hartwell Hotshots, The Cars and Ross Ryan entertained the crowd.
In 1988 the motorcycle precinct hosted the official Bicentennary MRA TOY RUN. Four city blocks were closed allowing only motorcycles and trams to travel between rows of industry stands and display bikes.
2003 saw the Centenary of Motorcycling held in Elizabeth Street with a motorcycle on display from each year since 1903 courtesy of the Veteran, Vintage and Classic Clubs. It should have been an annual event but it wasn't.
Someone should write another article about Elizabeth Street’s motorcycling history before everyone forgets about it.
Spot On leaving should be covered. It is very old. The shop was rented to Jack Pengally by old man Modak.
Phone: 03 9329 8222.
Damien Codognotto OAM
Mobile: 0419 846 855.