Kent resident Josh Goran saw a need in the community — one that could be filled with a collapsible work stand and a few well-equipped toolboxes.
So Goran, 23, regularly sets up shop at the Haymaker Farmers Market and makes house calls to repair bicycles. He keeps a supply of chains, brake pads and other parts that wear out — parts he can buy used — handy.
His mobile bicycle repair shop, Crooked River Recyclery, is an extension of Goran’s lifestyle — one that emphasizes local. It's a lifestyle evident from the number of people he greets while drinking a cup of coffee at Scribbles to his tie-dyed T-shirt that reads “slow down, eat healthy, act locally.”
“Our main idea is that if somebody has the money and inclination, they can go to a bike shop and buy a new bike or take their bike to a bike shop and have it fixed,” he says, “whereas we want to help people who either want to, for their own satisfaction, learn how to work on their own bike or, if it’s financial means, trying to do what we can to get everybody on bikes if they want to be.”
Goran first became interested in bicycles about the same time he moved to Kent. His interest in fixing them was a result of trying to fix his own bike. He describes himself as mostly self-taught, having grown up helping his dad repair cars, volunteering one summer at the Oberlin Bike Co-op, enrolling in an intensive two-week bike frame course and reading bicycle mechanic manuals.
Goran and his wife, Beth, have lived in the area for about five years. They both attended Kent State University, left town for a year and returned in 2010. Now that they are back, he works at the Kent Natural Foods Co-op and she works for Kent Cooperative Housing in addition to both working at local farms.
During the year they left town, Goran and his wife traveled across the country (by car, not bike, though they took bikes along) and spent some time in Portland, OR.
“We specifically went to Portland to see what it's like to be in a city that is known for being bicycle friendly,” he said. “Seeing what it’s like to be in a community that is very receptive to cycling as a viable transportation means was really interesting, really inspiring.”
Goran and his wife returned to Kent to be close to family. Still active bicyclists, they knew of a bike community from when they were students. But what the community needed was a repair shop, a need Goran saw as word spread that he knew how to fix bikes.
“At first, it was like, ‘oh, I’ll come over to your house and show you how to fix this,’” he said. “When it started going beyond friends of friends is when I guess we actually started thinking about it more as a real small business. That just came out of what we saw as a niche that hadn’t been filled in our area."
The farther away you get from Kent, the farther away you get from a bike shop," he said.
Goran will again be teaching a bike repair workshop series Sept. 13, 20 and 27 in front of the Kent State MAC Center. He would like to expand the mobile repair to surrounding areas including Mantua, Garrettsville and Hiram.
He and his wife are also working to open a storefront. But the goal isn’t to sell new bikes; it’s to sell refurbished bikes and keep whatever they can out of the waste stream.
“A big part of our lifestyle is trying to use what is already around us in whatever way possible; I drive a 27-year-old car and even the bikes I ride are older than I am,” he said, gesturing with his thumb to his maroon Volkswagen hatchback. “I might already have a tougher time working on an old bike for somebody than I would just telling somebody to buy a new bike and working on a new bike, but there’s something inspiring about trying to use what already exists even if it’s less than ideal.”
He declined to mention what locations they are considering, though he said they have met with university and city officials. He is pushing for a grand opening in the spring, which would coincide with the seasonal bike rush.
“We talked about doing something like this a few years ago, and I guess maybe after traveling, it just became apparent that you can’t wait for other people to do things,” he said. “If you want to see something done, you have to do it yourself.”