Harvard undergraduates are set to reopen Quad Bikes, a bicycle repair shop nested in the basement of Cabot House, after a roughly two-year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Quad Bikes, a non-profit founded in 2003 by two Cabot undergraduates, offered refurbished bicycles, affordable repair services, and bike maintenance classes to Harvard students and Cambridge residents. Though the shop used Harvard’s space rent-free, it operated as a business independent from the University.
Tim D. Ledlie ’02, who founded the shop alongside Juan C. Agudelo ’03, said Quad Bikes was an “invaluable resource,” servicing thousands of bikes and providing an “approachable” environment for questions on all things cycling.
“We all really believe that having robust services and support for bike stuff on campus is a really important thing,” said Ledlie, who stepped away from operating Quad Bikes in 2006. “It seems to have been a very helpful thing to the Harvard community over the past 18 years.”
But as campus life shuttered during Covid-19, Quad Bikes halted its operations. When campus roared back to life but the shop stayed closed, Cabot senior Everett C. Sapp ’23 began reaching out to administrators about its reopening.
“There was still the same sign on it from, I think, March of 2020, which was like, ‘We’ll be back soon,’” Sapp said. “At the same time, I started to notice a bunch of my friends around campus having really small issues with their bikes and then not being able to get that taken care of, and then they would end up just having to park their bikes.”
Sapp said he aims to “hit the ground running” when students return to campus this fall by cleaning the space and servicing bikes.
“My goal moving forward is to eventually create something that lasts sustainably throughout the years,” he said.
Sapp said that several other undergraduates, including his roommate, have already volunteered to help reopen the shop.
Nathaniel Hoyt, a former mechanic and later a shop manager at Quad Bikes, took on the job in 2012 while studying at the Harvard Extension School. Hoyt described his seven years at the shop as “the best job I ever had” and said he has been actively involved in the revival effort.
“We aren’t sure yet what sort of form it’s going to take when it does reopen,” Hoyt said. “But the shop is still there. The tools are all still there. The only thing that we really need are just people who have that same goal as we did and have the time and energy to spare to open it.”
Ledlie said Quad Bikes, which will continue to operate in Cabot’s basement, “wouldn’t exist” without the support of the College administration.
“All of the faculty deans — I think there have been four of them in the history of Quad Bikes — have been instrumental to its existence and and been very supportive of it,” he said.
Cabot Faculty Dean Ian J. Miller wrote in a statement to The Crimson that he and co-dean Crate Herbert are “big fans” of the effort to revive the shop.
“Cabot is really eager and excited to re-start Quad Bikes and to support student leaders who are working to make that happen," Miller wrote. "This is a student-led institution, and we’re proud to support it."
Ledlie said he hopes Quad Bikes can smoothly return to campus, citing the positive and lasting influence of bicycles on Harvard and its surroundings.
“It’s an important thing for the Harvard community, specifically with all of the transportation and sustainability needs of the campus, but also more broadly in the world,” Ledlie said. “The world would be greener and more healthy and more efficient and less wasteful if there were more people riding, understanding, and appreciating bikes.”
—Staff writer Vivi E. Lu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @vivielu_.
—Staff writer Leah J. Teichholtz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LeahTeichholtz.