For those of us old enough to recall his athletic exceptionalism, Bo Jackson remains the only person to achieve “dual sport” All-Star status in both professional baseball and professional football. We remember his uncanny ability because the idea of dominating multiple and often unrelated skillsets is such an incredible rarity. This too goes for our motorcycling community where the term “dual sport” would not typically conjure ideas of excellence in any specific task, and surely not an “All-Star” on either the pavement or the dirt. Wikipedia defines dual sport as “a type of street-legal motorcycle that is designed for both on and off-road use,” but the seasoned motorcyclist recognizes the tongue-in-cheek hypocrisy and challenges in such a lofty label. Dual sport bikes often specialize more in compromise than excellence in any number of advertised parameters. The idea of executing numerous antithetical tasks at an exceptional level is frequently a goal but seldom accomplished in man or machine. In those uncommonly rare times, legendary status is achieved by challenging conventional thought and excelling in multiple genres. One local fan of dual sport motorcycles also happens to be an accomplished and exceptionally talented “dual sport” of his own. Meet Dr. Nick Surra, owner of Nice Bikes Motorcycle Co. in Pittsburgh, PA.
Dr. Surra’s first “sport” is working as an experienced emergency room physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, but he earned true “dual sport” status as an avid motorcyclist, mechanic, and successful shop owner. In 2016, Nick purchased a meager building in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. His vision of the shop led to pouring new concrete floors, installing a glass garage door entryway, and designing a hoist system to lower bikes into the basement for additional workspace. The culmination of his effort is realized in a uniquely industrial yet warmly inviting space where guests are invited to mingle among the shop bikes and projects. But guests and potential clients are surely drawn to Nice Bikes by the quality of workmanship and humble, welcoming attitude of Nick himself.
While Nick has accepted a multitude of makes and models for work in the shop, he has historically been more involved with older Japanese motorcycles. This is changing though, as Nick is quick to point out that his “day job” permits the incredible freedom to pick and choose projects of creativity and design that push him out of his typical comfort zone. He has built relationships with other local motorcycle shops, and is happy to refer work when time is a concern.
It doesn’t take more than a few minutes with Dr. Surra to understand his strength as a people person. Nick will often halt the build process to spend hours openly conversing with window shoppers and foot traffic who are intrigued by the array of motorcycles behind the glass store front. This open approach to both the seasoned and uneducated motorcycling community is a refreshing counterpoint to the single make, one track, know-it-all, no-time-for-you motorcycle shops of the past. Nick is genuinely interested in building the motorcycling community in spite of what brand or genre one prefers. In fact, when asked about the future, Nick lights up at the thought of hosting regular motorcycle enthusiast gatherings and continuing to build the community in addition to bikes.
While the metaphor of “dual sport” surely applies to Nick’s mastery of multiple disciplines in medicine and motos, in reality he is adept at a myriad of skills, most importantly in helping and connecting people. A dual sport All-Star for sure.