YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Bicycling is a religion to some folks but riders of all levels will feel at home at Cyc Ward.
The new shop opened June 1 inside the former Richard Brown Memorial United Methodist Church building at 1205 Elm St., on Wick Park.
It’s the first bike shop to open within Youngstown city limits in decades.
The idea for Cyc Ward – pronounced “psych ward” – began when North Side resident Joe Parent noticed the former church building was up for auction. Parent, the owner of A Parent Co., which is a trucking company, and his wife, Rachel, and their children live near the stone building and wanted to see it put to good use.
“We are always open to buying anything in the neighborhood that seems like a good idea,” Parent says. “We went to an open house there and fell in love with the building. It was cool and it could be [turned into] anything.”
He bought the building, which is in excellent condition, for $167,000 and has since installed air conditioning.
Signage is being erected around the imposing edifice. A neon sign with the name of the shop will be installed at the entrance door.
In his spare time, Parent is a competitive cyclist who races almost weekly throughout the region. He traveled to Florida for a race earlier this year.
When it came time to figure out what to do with his new building, a bike shop-coffee shop quickly came to mind.
After discussing it with his friend and fellow cycling enthusiast Kelan Bilal, the two enlisted Tim Knight, owner of Trailside Bike Shop in Austintown, and the Cyc Ward wheels were in motion. The coffee shop is not open yet.
Bilal is the owner-operator of Excalibur Barber and Grooming Lounge, which has sites in Youngstown, Girard and Southern Park Mall. He also is the founder of Cyc Ward Bike Club, which is how he met Parent. Cyc Ward members meet every Sunday for a ride.
Knight mans the bike shop every day, handling repairs and sales. The showroom offers new and refurbished bikes and accessories.
Knight has incorporated his Trailside Bike Shop business into the Cyc Ward space, performing all repairs and bicycle assembly there. Trailside is located at the Mill Creek MetroParks Bike Way trailhead at Kirk Road.
While the Mahoning Valley already has a few bicycle shops, Cyc Ward is unique, he says. “For one thing, it’s in a church building,” Knight says. “And two, it will have a coffee shop. Eventually, we will buy a roaster.”
The goal is to be a welcoming gathering spot for cyclists of all levels, be they beginners, folks just looking for some casual exercise, or serious riders looking for high-end machines. Cyc Ward sells trail bikes, street bikes, racers and everything in between.
“We want it to be a place where everyone is comfortable, whether they are coming in to buy a bike, or a part, or a coffee, or just want to stop in and talk,” Knight says. “That’s what we lack in this area as far as [bicycle] shops go.”
While most Valley shops sell “the big three” of high-end bicycles – Trek, Giant and Spiritualized – Cyc Ward offers three lesser-known brands: Marin, Ridley and KHS. The bikes range from just under $500 to up to $10,000, Knight says. “It’s a comparable product for a better price.”
One of the YoGo electric bike charging and docking stations will be placed in front of Cyc Ward when the bike-share company begins operations next year, Knight says.
“We will help them maintain the bikes,” he says. “There will be 15 in front of our shop.”
Cyc Ward is just a few blocks away from Youngstown State University – a wellspring of potential customers.
“I love the location,” Parent says. “You can’t get any better than right outside a college campus. It is also low-traffic and cyclist-friendly around here.”
While Bilal would have preferred the shop be closer to Mill Creek Park, Parent points out that it’s a safe ride to the park, by using the new bike-only lane along Mahoning Avenue.
He also wants to be part of the improvement of the Elm Street neighborhood, where a cluster of restaurants and galleries has sprouted.
“I want to see this area continue on its upward trend,” Parent says. “A lot of houses are being renovated around here and some younger couples have moved in.”
Parent is a Chaney High School graduate. He attended YSU for one year before deciding that he wanted to launch a business and didn’t want to delay.
His trucking company does not own a fleet but instead contracts with truck owner-operators. The growing new-car hauler is about to bring its 12th truck online, he says.
“We do a lot of work for companies that have contracts with the major automakers,” Parent says. “Our goal is to grow big enough to go directly to the manufacturers and skip the middleman. We’re almost there.”
His passion for cycling reflects his competitive streak, although it started casually.
“I was just riding around on [an inexpensive] bike,” he says. “Then I started riding with Cyc Ward [Bike Club]. I was perfectly content doing that but I have a competitive side.”
A fellow rider started talking to Parent, stirring his interest in racing. He bought a racing bike a few years ago and entered his first race in 2020.
“Now, it’s my favorite thing to do,” he says. “I’ve already done 10 races this year.”
Pictured at top: Co-owners Tim Knight and Joe Parent in Cyc Ward Bike Shop. Behind them is Parent’s old racing bike. Parent is holding his son Kaius. Not pictured is co-owner Kelan Bilal.