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Friday, March 2, 2012

Danny MacAskill's journey from bicycle mechanic to stunt cyclist

It may not look like much but the MacDonald Cycles bicycle mechanic shop on Morrison Street in Edinburgh is more than a humble bike shop, it is the birthplace of a global phenomenon: Stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill.

Since Danny's rise to stardom MacDonald Cycles has become an unlikely tourist attraction, especially for people who like to skid rubber instead of pounding pavement.

The 2009 internet video of bicycle mechanic Danny MacAskill (now an ex-employee) jumping off the roof of the MacDonald Cycles shop, cycling up the side of trees and other stunts went viral in the 10s of millions and defied gravity to the point of disbelief.

The five-minute clip of stunts was shot during his lunch breaks and include such stunts as leaping from the roof of the bike shop across an alleyway to the neighbouring Copy Stop.

Another location, Chuckies Pend, is now an unoffical landmark among local cyclists.

MacDonald Cycles shop manager Liam Dawson says: “You see people turning up all the time to take photos from across the street. It’s like a shrine. Danny was kind enough to give us the bike he used for that jump too, and people regularly come in wishing to have a look and photograph it."

"It’s turned into a nice wee piece of folk memorabilia. It’s good to have the castle and the Old Town and all that but this is where most bike fans make for."

MacAskill worked as a bicycle mechanic at the bike shop for 3 years before his overnight stardom, recently visited Edinburgh earlier this month to shoot another video around some of his favourite haunts (see Danny MacAskill does it again).

26-year-old Danny now has a professional career as a rider for Inspired Bicycles Ltd.

"It’s amazing that folk turn up looking to have photographs taken outside the shop. I’m glad I can repay Macdonald’s in some way for all the long lunches I used to take when I went cycling around the city," - says Danny.

"The video back in 2009 was shot with a load of mates during those lunchbreaks, I never thought it would prove as popular as it has."

“Edinburgh played a big role in my progression as a rider and I’m grateful that I can give something back, however small.”

Danny's video has also made Scotland a mecca for cyclists. According to a spokeswoman for Visit Scotland: “It’s fantastic to see that where Danny MacAskill first became a world-wide star has become a mecca for cycling fans everywhere and further adds to Edinburgh’s portfolio of great things to see and do."

“Edinburgh & Lothians is home to world class attractions and is loved the world over for its exciting programme of year round events that take place."

“However as highlighted here the city and surrounding area is also home to unofficial attractions which can provide people with another compelling reason to visit which can often help to enhance the visitor experience.”

This is all well and good.

But the question we would like to know is... does Danny still build and fix his own bikes?


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About the Author

Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



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