Jacob Kenney realized from an early age that working in a bike shop was where he belonged.
Kenney graduated from Temple in May 2015 with a degree in architecture, but always knew he had a passion for building and repairing bikes.
Making and fixing bikes came naturally to him, as he began repairing bikes at the age of 12 and built his own bike at the age of 15.
He got his start working in the industry early in his college career, when he was the assistant general manager at a bike shop in South Philadelphia called Community. After he left Community, he began working at Neighborhood Bike Works as a part-time employee. Eventually, he rose to the rank of assistant manager of the North Philadelphia location.
At the Neighborhood Bike Works shop he worked with logistics, making sure sales, orders and customer service were all in order.
Before Neighborhood Bike Works relocated, Kenney purchased the property where it used to be based, on Susquehanna Avenue just off of Broad Street.
“Someone jokingly said I should buy the shop,” Kenney said of his decision to purchase the property. “Then I kept thinking about it more and more and decided to do it.”
Despite the bike shop changing ownership, name and affiliation Kenney hopes to continue the work Neighborhood Bike Works started.
“What I really want to have is a community bike shop that offers free classes on repairs,” Kenney said. “We’re going to have a co-op also where you can come in one or two nights a week at a certain time where you can use all the equipment and tools under the watch of a mechanic.”
He hopes the entire community will like the new shop, named Cycles. Cycles is slated to open for full operation in January. As soon as the shop opens they will hold adult co-op programs for repairs, along with co-op programs specifically for transgender people and women.
Within the next year Kenney hopes to incorporate youth programs back into the repertoire of the shop. Within five years, hopes to network to the surrounding community so the shop can host classes at various churches and schools in the community.
Kenney hopes Cycles will reach Temple students along with the local community and he thinks it will help ease tensions between the two groups.
“We really want to reach out into the community and use the shop as a place for the community and Temple students to interact,” he said.
He is trying to break into the Temple community through online advertisements, classes run through the Department of Sustainability and by using flyers.
Kenney said one of the most important things about getting Cycles started is the branding. He believes the brand they have begun to create will help Cylces be noticed around Temple’s campus and in the community.
Since many people in the area use bicycles as their sole or main method of transportation, he hopes to help people understand and be able to repair their bikes on their own. Kenney’s ultimate goal with the shop is to create a bicycle culture in North Philadelphia through Cycles.
“We’re thinking of it as a bicycle community center,” Kenney said. “It’s also going to be full service and repair and have total retail but we want to continue boosting the bike culture here and get a lot more people comfortable working on their own bikes.”
Jonathan Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonnygilbs96.