On the corner of 19th and Girard streets, there is a mural of an individual riding a bright orange bike zooming passed cars.
The mural reads “Kayuh: You’ll get there faster.” Kayuh means “pedal” in Malaysian.
Izzat Rahman, who is from Malaysia, opened Kayuh Bicycles & Cafe in June 2012. The shop offers a range of services, like tune-ups and tire fixes. They also host group bike rides every Sunday for community residents as well as classes where people can learn how to fix their own bike.
The bike shop offers full service, like working with hydraulics and suspension, and some sales.
“The prices are definitely centered toward folks who are more budget-friendly,” said Henry Sam, the head mechanic of Kayuh.
The cafe section of the shop opened in 2015, which helped improve business in the winter months. Creating a community outside the setting of the shop is also important to employees at Kayuh, Sam said.
“Since we’ve opened, we’ve been trying more and more to use our space to connect to the community with the repair clinics we do and the open mics we host every month,” Sam added.
Every third Wednesday of the month, the shop host performers from Philadelphia, like comedians, musicians or poets. Additionally, every Sunday nearly all year-round, there are group bike rides starting at 9 a.m. and every fourth Wednesday, the mechanics host free repair clinics.
Sam added that customers can use their “tools or knowledge” and bring their bike to the repair clinic or watch as someone else repairs their own bike.
Sam said teaching people how to repair their own bikes is important.
“You don’t wanna be 20 to 30 miles away from the closest bike shop and your tube pops,” Sam said. “If you’re really out there and you don’t how to fix your own bike, you’re basically stranded.”
Sia Robinson, a barista at Kayuh, spends her time making Vietnamese iced coffee, which is a slow-drip dark roast coffee served with sweet, condensed milk, or serving lattes and cappuccinos. For food, the shop offers bagels, pastries and spreads, like the shop’s own homemade coconut jelly.
The shop also serves Teh Tarik, a milk tea beverage that Robinson said tastes like fruit loops to her.
Naseem Silver, who recently moved to North Philadelphia from West Philadelphia, started biking in the city two years ago when a friend introduced him to Kayuh.
Now, he comes in several times a week to hang out with the mechanics, who he has become friendly with.
“Kayuh is a lot more reliable than other places,” Silver said. “They actually act like family with you. They’ll work out deals with you and try to be really helpful if you need it.”
Robinson said that the shop’s friendly environment is driven by the employees’ open-mindedness.
“People from all walks of life come in here and we all have the common interest of either bikes, coffee or food,” Robinson said. “I think it’s a good glue for the community. It definitely meshes the people together.”
-Text, video and images by Emily Scott.