TIMES CHANGE: An old photo of Harris Cycles, Lismore.
TIMES CHANGE: An old photo of Harris Cycles, Lismore.

Bike shop keeps rolling on

HARRIS Cycles in Keen St, Lismore may be the oldest bike shop in Australia operating from its original premises.

Opened in 1918 by Harold Wotherspoon and Cecil Harris, the shop has been owned by members of the Wotherspoon family ever since.

Current owner, Darryl Pursey has been working in the shop since 1985 and bought the business in 1991 from his then father-in-law Si Wotherspoon, the son of one of the original founders.

"There is only one other shop in Adelaide that may be able to challenge us as being the oldest," he said.

"But records are a bit hazy so we may never know."

Since starting work in the shop, Mr Pursey has seen a huge turnaround in the customer base.

"Back then about 95% of customers were kids," he said.

"The adult customers were either racing bike enthusiasts or people committed to bike transport for ideological reasons.

"So it was mainly a bike repair shop for kids and you could really only charge as much as their pocket money could bear.

"In the last 10-15 years a lot more adults have taken up riding to keep fit and also for the social side.

"People who are buying bikes these days surprise themselves with how quickly they can develop their fitness."

The team at Harris Cycles sells between 15 and 20 bikes a week and the business has taken over the shop next door expanding back to their original pre-Second World War size.

It was there that up until the 1950s, the company manufactured its own Supa Glida bike.

Mr Pursey has seen technology change rapidly over the years but he is not a fan of the new power-assisted bikes that are gaining popularity in metropolitan areas.

"Government regulations mean they don't have enough power yet to deal with hills like we have around Lismore," he said.

In the meantime Mr Pursey himself is back out there on the road training at least four times a week.

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