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Burnaby's quirkiest motorbike repair shop meets party hub is leaving town

Richelle Trelenberg of True Grit Moto has turned an old barn into a motorcycle repair shop and event space - but it's not staying in Burnaby for much longer.

Burnaby is about to lose the coolest little club it never knew it had.

In a barn, in an industrial park, three blocks from Brentwood SkyTrain station is a motorcycle repair shop that – for a short spell – doubled as a concert-slash-party space.

Welcome to True Grit Moto

Barn 5A is home to True Grit Moto, a motorcycle repair business owned by Richelle Trelenberg.

It’s a motorcyclist’s haven. The smell of grease and oil wafts around like a perfume. Trelenberg calls it “intoxicating.”

The space feels like the cozy home of an eclectic collector.

In one corner of the barn, Trelenberg has hosted a vintage flea market. In another, a barber’s chair sits among 10 or so motorbikes standing in rows of storage.

The other half of the barn is a workshop dedicated to fixing bikes.

Above stands a high wooden loft Trelenberg built with one other person in eight days.

At the top of the loft is a bar and lounge area, capped at the end with a small performance stage and sound set-up.

It’s like a 1970s basement, filled with sienna-orange stuffed couches and beige carpets.

Done with her day’s bike repairs, Trelenberg announces triumphantly: “And that’s changing brakes.”

She said the space started out as a motorcycle shop with workshops but evolved to include the vintage shop, music shows and events.

“It’s like an open community space where everybody’s welcome. It’s not just the man’s shop anymore.” Trelenberg said.

Trelenberg described the space as the person in high school that befriends the kid no one wants to hang out with.

“One person opens up that moment, and they just kind of like, ‘Come in and have a chat.’ This space is that person.”

This is True Grit Moto by day.

In the evening, the space becomes the No. 5 Barn.

The No. 5 Barn: Nowhere like it in Burnaby

The name is partially inspired by the No. 5 Orange strip club in Vancouver.

In the evening, Trelenberg’s event manager Leesa Weighill turns the space into a raver’s delight on one day, or a country cowgirl’s dream the next.

Trelenberg said Weighill came to her with a six-page business plan on how to do small events in the barn.

By May, the events began: open mics, comedy shows, electronic all-women DJ nights and silent discos.

“She just started filing the people in here, like singer-songwriters, magicians, comedians, dancers, a flame-thrower person,” Trelenberg said.

Weighill (also a musician) described the barn as rustic grunge with motorcycle vintage vibes. The bikes give the space a new take on the warehouse party space.

“I think this is the only place in Burnaby that’s like this,” Weighill said.

On a Wednesday night in early June, about a dozen people gathered by 7:30 p.m. to show up for an electronic music night with up-and-coming local DJs like ZEYDA and CHÉ…CHØU.

It was hard to believe, with the deep house beats and laser light show, that this was happening in the middle of suburban Burnaby.

The future of True Grit

Trelenberg has been in the space since July 2021 – but she’s closing the barn as a repair shop on July 1.

Her business licence allows her to be a mobile mechanic, but not to work on bikes in one place.

The No. 5 Barn will see some Pride events in July, but they’ll be smaller in scale. Trelenberg is out for good on July 31.

The vintage shop is already gone, and she’s slowly clearing the loft.

As Trelenberg bikes out of the industrial park on her 1991 Honda Gold Wing (she named it "Goldie Honkers"), she’s preparing to take her repair skills fully mobile.

She bought an old postal van and turned it into a mechanic shop.

She wants to host events and workshops all over the Lower Mainland, from Chilliwack to Pemberton and everywhere in between.

On Saturday, June 18, No. 5 Barn is hosting a queer party, “A Daytime Thing,” with DJs, dancing and drinks. The party is queer-focused and all-identities inclusive.

A Daytime Thing: A Queer Party at True Grit Moto

When: Saturday, June 18, 3 to 10 p.m.
Where: True Grit Moto, Barn 5A (2350 Beta Ave.)
Cost: $11.62, tickets available online, $15 cash at the door (ATM on-site)