Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Humble Vintage

Some Humble Vintage bikes

The very fabulous Humble Vintage guide for casual cyclists!

Always love a hand-drawn map...

The Humble Vintage is seriously the most simple yet brilliant 'why didn't I think of that?' idea ever. But unfortunately you didn't think of it, Matt Hurst did. :) Luckily he is so so nice and likeable and super cute to boot so you really don't have to be jealous.

The Humble Vintage is simply an affordable, hyper-local Melbourne-based vintage bike hire service. You just make a booking by calling Matt, go to an allocated pick-up point (St. Kilda, Fitzroy or the City), and collect your sweet vintage bike to ride around glorious Melbourne all day. So brilliant, so green and so effortlessly cool.

$30 per day includes your bike, helmet, lock, light AND, the icing on the cake - a super gorgeous printed riding guide and map, entitled 'Melbourne for visitors and casual cyclists'! So beautifully designed, and SO retro cool it is somewhat painful. Matt was inspired to create one of those old fashioned folded maps you might stuff in your back pocket in the olden days. Like, in the era of Mary Poppins or Oliver Twist or something. Such an inspired and perfectly executed little idea!

Not surprisingly, the Humble Vintage maps alone now have a cult following all of their own, and whilst they come free with the bike hire service, you can also buy your own copy ($2!!) from Metropolis, The Thousands Shop, The Paperback, Readings on Acland Street and Meet Me at Mikes on Brunswick Street. OR send a few stamps to PO Box 361 East Melbourne Vic 8002 and Matt will send you one! 'Cause that's just the kinda guy he is :)

So I am sure you are dying to learn a little more about lovely Matt and the inception of The Humble Vintage...? Here goes! -

What is your own background and what inspired you to start The Humble Vintage?

For the past five years or so I’ve worked in publicity and marketing for arts and cultural venues in London and Melbourne. I’ve also travelled a lot, and went looking for bikes to rent in each major city. Around a year ago I was searching for my next job but also started looking at what bike rental options were in Melbourne. As with overseas, I wasn’t able to find what I’d been looking for if I was a visitor, so I thought I’d start my own.

When did you launch and what response have you had so far?

I rented my first bike in August '09… the response has been wonderful, and far more positive than I expected. Obviously I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I’ve still been surprised by it all.

How do you work the logistics of running the company - do you meet your customers face to face? Are there specific drop-off points? How on earth do you squeeze all these things in around other work!?

At first I was individually meeting each renter personally, on street corners or in parks or cafes. It was fun sometimes and a nightmare at others. As it got busier I was looking for a way to not ‘be there’ all time. Now I’ve got three pick up points, 1000 £ Bend in the city, Idaho Vintage in St Kilda and the Fitzroy Fat store, where people can pick up from. It works well for the most part, but not being there also opens up a new set of challenges. So I’ve finally got my own little office on Flinders Lane, and do rentals from there when I can.

The hand-drawn maps you make for your customers are brilliant - such an inspired idea which really sets The Humble Vintage service apart from the crowd! How did the bike maps idea come about, and how do you make them look so great!?

At the start I was literally drawing on people’s maps whenever they asked for advice, but I wanted to make my own. Playing around with Illustrator and producing the map and guide became a perfect personal project, I was just learning and getting carried away as I went along. Regarding it’s actual feel, they’re printed on my friend’s old Risograph, in black and white with the riding routes dotted out in red, like someone has drawn on the map for you. The stock is recycled and unbleached and has a lovely grain. I actually wouldn’t mind it on an even darker stock, and it sure doesn’t look good on regular photocopy paper.

What's next for The Humble Vintage!?

The main goal with the guide is to make it a quarterly publication with its own following - it’s not just for people who rent bikes from me. It is definitely written with them in mind, but it’s also an interesting read for the local bike rider, or visitor who isn’t one. I’ve got lots of ideas for the next issue or two, I hope it will be bigger and better and all that stuff.

I’m also looking for a few other places I can take the bikes, having pick up spots in St Kilda and Fitzroy is great, but a couple more would be good too. Maybe Docklands, South Yarra, Daylesford even.

Aww who wouldn't wanna hire a bike from this guy? Photo of Matt Hurst by Scottie Cameron, courtesy of City of Melbourne, from the fabulous Hot Spots Summer 2010 guide. (Thanks Penny!)

The Humble Vintage bookings can be made on 0432 032 450!

Visit The Humble Vintage blog for more details...

Ps) there is another great and slightly more in-depth interview with Matt over here...


  1. what a great post. thanks for sharing! xo!

  2. what a fabulous concept, loved it. Thanks so much xo

  3. A section of the blog which I shall try to divert from Abigail - otherwise she will be cycling all over Melbourne and the Bay in September!

  4. Oh my god, I love both those bikes! amazing. great post!

  5. Sensational! Great idea, I'm just down the road from Fitzroy Fat store and will definitely be keen...