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Bicycle Shop in Youngwood thrives through off season

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 6:56 p.m.

When a Westmoreland County bicycle repair shop closed several years ago, Sam Echard thought there was a void to fill.

He enlisted the help of longtime friend Bryan Metzger to open their own establishment, now known as the Bicycle Shop in Youngwood.

Formerly known as the Greensburg Bicycle Shop, the business originally opened during the summer of 2010.

Echard and Metzger, both of Connellsville, still operate the full-service bike shop, but at a different location.

“We moved the shop to Youngwood this past July. When we originally opened, we thought downtown was the best location for us,” Echard said. “Over those first few years, we realized we needed to become visible to more traffic. We're now located one block from the Five Star Bike Trail, so the move just made sense.”

The busy season runs from March through October at the shop on South Fourth Street.

During the off season, the shop is open at the owners' convenience and for appointments.

“We're hoping to do a lot of business through Christmas because we offer layaway. That can be a really great way for parents to purchase new bikes for their children during the holidays,” Metzger said. “We can even do a lot of custom work and restorations. If a customer needs something, we'll go out of our way to get it for them.”

Although the business is growing, neither Echard nor Metzger name the bicycle maintenance as their primary occupation.

Echard is a general contractor. Metzger is a pharmacist. They became friends when their families started attending the same church.

“I started cycling about twelve years ago, after I started having pain and heart palpitations,” Echard said. “I needed a way to exercise, so I went out and bought a bike.”

Metzger continued the story.

“Sam's been an avid cyclist for many years, and he recruited me pretty quickly,” said Metzger. “The shop is kind of a hobby that got out of control.”

They enlist their wives, Lori Echard and Jenipher Metzger, to help run the shop, which still averages between 15 to 25 repairs each week.

“When it comes to our new bicycles and accessories, we really enjoy sales, but bicycle maintenance is our top priority,” Echard said. The shop offers free estimates on the work.

Echard and Metzger each obtained bicycle-repair certification from the United Bicycle Institute in Portland before opening.

“When customers ask us what kind of bike would be best for them, we always try to find them the best fit, based on how aggressively they plan to ride on different types of terrain,” Metzger said. “We appreciate customer input. Not only do we sell our bikes, we work on them ourselves.”

The Bicycle Shop carries a variety of rides, from road bikes to mountain bikes to hybrids. The Canadian brand, Norco, is the main performance bicycle available. It offers an assortment of freestyle BMX bikes in multiple sizes for younger riders.

Parts, tires, cycling apparel and accessories are available.

As Echard and Metzger frequently take biking trips, they know how to prepare customers for similar outings.

“We join the Rowdy Riders, a group of cyclists from Westmoreland County Community College, for rides every Saturday morning, and they all bring their bikes to us for repairs,” said Echard. “... We outfit bikes for the Allegheny Passage, and many other popular trails around the area.”

Echard said customers appreciate the personal touch given to even the smallest request. He recently began custom-frame painting. The shop owners plan to soon offer full-bicycle customizing.

Each year, the owners donate a bicycle to be auctioned off at the Five Star Trail Poker Run. Money raised helps to maintain the trail.

“Everyone should try cycling. Try all different types,” said Metzger. “Beginners should know that the more you do it, the more you'll like it. It's a fun, healthy activity for all ages.”

For more information about the shop, email greensburg.bike@gmail.com or call 724-755-2453.

Kaylie Harper is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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