HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Sounds of tinkering can be heard and 21-year-old Ian Morrison spins the back wheel of a mountain bike.
“It’s a pain in the neck that most people don’t enjoy doing,” he said.
Fixing spokes is a meticulous labor of love that he finds soothing.
“There’s something therapeutic about truing a wheel,” he said.
Just like the bike, Morrison’s shop is a pre-owned work in progress. Underground Bicycle just moved into the building, formerly occupied by StartUp HBG, at 1519 N. Third St. It’s fitting as Morrison will start up the city’s only quality pre-owned bicycle retail and repair shop.
“I’m working with good bones to begin with and basically making it like new again,” he said.
Morrison plans to open his shop in the winter of 2017. He picked a place near his home and HACC’s Midtown campus to envision a location focused on “chain-spokers”.
“Where people can come, talk about bikes, just hang out use WiFi,” he said, “and basically, just be a place in the community where people can come and do anything bike related or just hang out.”
Morrison said his passion likely began repairing farm equipment and old bikes on his grandfather’s farm in Dillsburg. He recalls being overzealous with his newfound skills.
“I did dare my grandmother when she was 81 to ride her bicycle again,” he said. “Don’t do that. If you’re a grandkid out there, don’t do that.”
Morrison said she only suffered from a minor crash into the bushes.
He admittedly explains not doing what you’re supposed to, in a way, led him to success. Morrison’s passion for bikes turned into a job at Pedal Pusher on Walnut Street in Susquehanna Township fine tuning $8,000 road machines.
But he also helped Ross Willard at Recycle Bicycle “triage” donated bikes to fix up and return to the community for free. Morrison wanted something in between and began rehabbing quality pre-owned bikes in a basement.
His new business brand pays homage to his speakeasy roots.
“The name kind of came as a joke in the sense that we were literally underground,” he said, “but then also, in terms of financial stuff and everything like that, it was under-the-table cash.”
With a legitimate business license, Morrison plans to be a long-time fixture of the Harrisburg community. He is working with several bicycle groups to venture a bike rental business as well to help others obtain affordable transportation for employment. There’s even talk of opening a location in Allison Hill.
For now, he’ll focus on the Midtown location and get that up and running. Bikes will range from $50 to $300 depending on the model and level of wear. As Morrison guarantees, his bikes will be better built than a brand new department store bike – with solid character.
“Will it be scratched and dinged and dented? Yeah,” he said. “But is it going to work better than you can get at that price range? Yes.”