“People may come here for the wrong reasons, but they end up staying for the right ones.”
Wil Thomas is a hospitable guy. Part owner of motorcycle emporium Tri Co, Wil views bike culture as part of his identity, and lives his life accordingly. Over the past two years, Wil has helped curate the Los Feliz shop to be the ultimate destination for LA bikers: vintage choppers parked out front, a gaggle of men sharing stories on the front steps, copies of Dice Magazine on every available surface, and a generous supply of heritage jackets—all offered up with a much warmer welcome than you might expect. These days, Tri Co has positioned itself as a home base for anyone who shares a love for the open road.
One thing we learned when doing our homework for this story: when it comes to bikers, even casual fans will tell you that there can be a divide within the culture. The old-school riders (think Born Free) tend to side-eye the stylized, postmodern enthusiasts (more of the Deus Ex Machina persuasion). The former isn’t terribly impressed with the latter crowd, pegging them as pretentious hipsters, or worse, disingenuous posers who bastardize the motorcycle’s legacy by turning it into an accessory.
Wil isn’t interested in calling it either way. He joined the Tri Co team a couple years back after meeting the store’s owners, British ex-pats and Dice Magazine founders, Matt and Dean, at a motorcycle rally in Texas. They became fast friends and eventually business partners after Matt and Dean invited Wil to join the Tri Co family permanently. These days, the guys split their time riding, producing the print magazine, and kicking it at the shop.
Tri Co is cozy space, rich in iron and reclaimed wood. It’s modestly nestled in between Umami Burger and Confederacy on Hollywood Blvd, and might be easy to miss without the motorcycles parked out front. Tri Co is meant to be the physical embodiment of the cult-favorite Dice Magazine, whose offices are actually located in the back. The store carries apparel and accessories from brands like Electric, Eat Dust, Joe King Helmets, and Abel Brown—an eclectic range of utilitarian gear that’s as smart as it is functional. On any given day of the week (besides Monday; they’re closed) you can catch grizzly Harley Davidson enthusiasts breaking bread—or in this case sipping Pabsts—with manicured CB350 riders. Together, they share stories of long rides and women, collectively bonding over the one thing that actually matters, the simple independence a bike inspires. The atmosphere is as sincere and Americana as it sounds.
In Wil’s house everyone is welcome. As we packed up, he framed the crux of our conversation perfectly, “I think it’s great. You’re gonna have die hard folks in some niche of bike culture being bummed because new folks are encroaching what they feel is their territory. In reality, it’s all been done before, and we are the beneficiaries of so many that came before. We are the benefactor of the future in bikes, choppers or otherwise.”
Photography by Tyler Allen