Tucsons motorcycle community has a new home in the middle of Midtown. And its filling more than one need for bikers.
John Morgan started Gear Shifters in April with his wife, Melanie, and business partner, Scott Blaney.
The former auto repair shop near Speedway and Columbus is now a coffee shop and hangout spot for Tucsons bikers. It has extra indoor space to rent out for parties or events, or for businesses like Freedom Tattoo.
Motorcycles, coffee, tattoos. Kinda the same cloth, Morgan said with a smile.
Hes only been a coffee barista since the spring. Hes better known for his nickname and passion for motorcycles.
I go by Johnny Speed, he said. Ive been riding [motorcycles] about 40 years Its the freedom. The feeling of wind over your face. Its very zen.
Morgan said fulfilling this dream began a few years ago.
I got laid off just before COVID, he explained. I had a 20-year career in educational publishing. And I decided I didnt want to go back to Corporate America. And I wanted to follow my passion.
We wanted to [start a business to] make it more comfortable for people waiting to go on rides. Because a lot of the motorcycling is the community and the social aspect. You dont get that while youre actually riding. Thats pre-ride and post-ride.
It feels really secure, especially for somebody like me that doesnt have family out here. Like, this is my motorcycle family, said Taylor Paulikas, who works at Iron Horse Motorcycles and is a frequent customer.
Riding is like a religion, but Morgan says Gear Shifters is bike agnostic: it welcomes all brands and styles which have divided Tucsons riders in the past.
Its been pretty fragmented, Morgan said of Tucsons biker community. Different groups gathering different places. And thats one of the ideas behind this place, is to get everybody together in one place.
Monthly Bike Nights fill the lot on the second Friday of every month.
A place where you can come and meet people and make friends, Paulikas said of the Bike Nights.
Its not just a place where bikers can hang out. They can store and sell their bikes, or buy a new bike.
Bikers can also buy or sell used gear like jackets, pants or boots.
We put it on the racks, Morgan explained. If it sells, we take 50 percent, they take 50 percent. And the person whos buying it gets a great deal.
As the heat dies down, business is revving up.
Its not just the motorcycle community, said Morgan. The neighborhoods starting to find us. And they love the coffee. And so were getting regular people to interact and get more people interested in motorcycle world.
As long as Ive been coming here, everybody knows each others names, said biker and customer David Solorzano. Everybody starts knowing each others personal lives Theres such an openness here, that you dont really have to ride to be able to enjoy.