IT has become an Edinburgh institution over the decades – helping launch the career of global stunt riding phenomenon Danny MacAskill.
Now time has officially caught up with one of the city’s oldest dedicated bike stores, with Macdonald Cycles shutting its doors after almost 80 years in business despite an unprecedented surge in cycling interest.
The outlet in Morrison Street put up a sign late last week notifying customers that it was closed until further notice. Workers were witnessed dismantling the shop window display on Monday.
The store, originally opened by businessman Ronnie Macdonald, has catapulted former employee MacAskill to worldwide fame.
MacAskill, now 27, said: “I had some of my best days with all my friends in the shop. Colin, the boss, really looked after me. It is sad news.”
MacAskill had been working as a bike mechanic at the store when a five-and-a-half-minute video of him performing stunts was posted on YouTube in April 2009.
The video showed the talented rider leaping from the Macdonald roof across an alleyway to the neighbouring Copy Stop.
MacAskill said: “I used to stand across the road after I’d got my lunch. I’d wait for the traffic and think it would be cool to jump from my workplace roof on to the other shop, that one day I’m going to do it.”
The video proved a viral internet sensation, attracting more than 34 million hits and launching the international career of the Red Bull contracted rider.
Macdonald Cycles subsequently became an unlikely tourist haunt for MacAskill’s legion of fans. Shop manager Liam Dawson said last year: “You see people turning up to take photos from across the street. It’s like a shrine.”
The unexpected closure comes five years after the bike mechanic business was forced to shut a second outlet in Musselburgh.
MacAskill visited the Morrison Street store as recently as two months ago and said there had been no warning of the shop’s imminent demise.
Avid cyclists from across the Capital also mourned the loss of the long-standing retailer.
Chris Hill, who runs the CityCyclingEdinburgh.info online forum, said MacAskill would never have become a worldwide success without Macdonalds.
He said: “I remember when Ronnie Macdonald moved from probably the smallest cycle shop in Edinburgh, in Bread Street, along the road to the current site.
“That was about 1973 and he had the vision to create the then-largest bike shop in town. Some people thought that was a mistake, but it thrived for years. That business has undoubtedly introduced many more people to cycling in Edinburgh.”
Kim Harding, spokesman for campaign group Pedal on Parliament, said the opening of an Evans Cycles store in Fountainbridge, about half a mile away, on top of internet competition had likely been the nail in the coffin for Macdonald Cycles.
Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative communications officer Ged Holmgard recalled buying his first adult bike at the Macdonald store during the 1970s. He said the closure came at a time when business was booming, with more dedicated bike stores in Edinburgh than ever before.
Owner Colin Macdonald could not be reached for comment by the Evening News.