Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moped now open to service and sell . . . mopeds

Posted By on 09.26.12 at 06:00 PM

Clean and simple
You know that intense buzzing reverberating down Milwaukee during the summer months that sounds like a swarm of bees caught in a running lawn mower? Yeah, those are mopeds. Not scooters or minibikes or speedboats, but economical motorized bikes with pedals that before being souped up and customized have a displacement of 49cc and probably have trouble surpassing 30 miles per hour.

Mopeds are cheap but temperamental, easy to work on but a pain in the ass. I have two myself, one running most of the time and one never running ever. They attract hoarders and have spawned a culture of moped gangs across the country that, among other exploits, organize weekly rides and hold annual rallies in their respective cities. (Chicago's pair of Moped Army affiliates are known as Peddy Cash and the Hot 'n' Readyz.) Basically, they're too much fun not to own.

The city's last moped mechanic and shop, Warbux Mopeds, sat right next door to the Congress Theater in one of the block's rotating storefronts. When it closed up shop in 2008 due to some key components and employees making the move out west, much of the moped tooling was left in the hands of enthusiasts and after-work mechanics. But last month, Will Andrews and his partner Marla Wisuri monopolized the town's moped racket by opening the straightforwardly named Moped in Logan Square (2068 N. Western).

Andrews, who rides with the Hot 'n' Readyz, admits that Moped is a project he's wanted to open for years but never had the impetus to quite follow through with it. After visiting the Second Stroke Mopeds in Brooklyn, though, and seeing how that shop evolved from one that initially only served friends and other moped gang members into a full-fledged legit business, he finally decided to sacrifice the carpentry work he was doing at the time and take a small slice of his gang's clubhouse aesthetic in Pilsen and move it to the north side.

Moped is a mere three-person operation: Andrews, Wisuri, and eccentric mastermind mechanic Mike Biery, who's also worked at shops in Denver and Austin. Aside from working on peds ($60/hour for labor) and hawking parts and pieces, the shop also sells the brand-new Tomos 2012 and will be gradually selling restored and surely decked-out mopeds. Andrews tells me that bikes from his personal stock—he has 20 total—will likely find their way out onto the showroom floor at some point too.

Though the shop specializes in new and vintage brands of motorized pedal bikes like Puchs, Garellis, and Motobecanes—Andrews tells me they turn away scooters and small motorcycles practically every day—Moped has been steadily busy since its opening on August 14. But the sunshine and happy-go-lucky vibes of summer are fleeting fast, and it's pretty common sense that a brisk Chicago winter will discourage a lot of motorized two wheelers from venturing outside of their cozy garages. So to combat the probable downward spike in walk-ins, the shop plans on doing powder-coating for those looking to do rebuilds during the winter, and will offer a storage spot for bikes needing to escape the bitter cold.

The shop's hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 AM till 8 PM and Sunday from noon till 7 PM, and it hosts a weekly Tuesday-night ride at 8 PM. Very occasionally the owners may close up for a weekend to attend a rally in close proximity to Chicago—like this weekend's Parks and Wreck rally in Ottawa, Illinois—but if you're willing to push your busted, bogging-down ped to the shop, chances are they'll be there and get it running right.

Below are some photos of the space (all shot by Andrea Bauer).

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