Motor home, new shop are in future
Student’s big plans driven by bus, bikes
Lucas Natali, a marketing student at the State University of New York at Fredonia, is looking to make a smaller impact on the environment, but a big one in the village.
The senior is revamping a school bus to live in and starting a bike shop that will also offer repairs. “Instead of getting a house I thought I’d make my own motor home,” Natali told the OBSERVER. “So I bought a school bus for $5,000 off of auction, parked it at the fairgrounds and am currently in the stages of renovating it to live it in full time.
Known as a skoolie, the movement of remodeling buses and other vehicles into homes has been growing nationwide, according to Natali.
“I’m following in the footsteps of a lot of people,” he shared. “It really is an art project if you think about it.
“I cut the roof off and raised it 16 inches and then put sheet metal on the side which will make the total height of my bus 12 feet, 6 inches.”
The 2011 Blue Bird Vision has only 110,000 miles and Natali is happy about its newness and how it will serve him through the years.
“Me and my girlfriend are working on it. I do most of the metal work and she helps with the painting,” Natali said. “It’s going slowly, but it should be completed in April when I have to move out of my student housing.”
When asked how the inspiration to take on such an endeavor came to him, he commented that he had seen a bus conversion in high school and just knew that’s what he wanted to do.
“When I was looking into buying a house and even with the interest rates being as low they are, it would still be cheaper for me to live in a bus,” Natali explained. “Also having the freedom to move wherever I would like is great. And then with the COVID pandemic it really reinforced me wanting to buy the bus because then if I ever had to quarantine in an area I would be able to do it because the bus I’m building is going to be fully offgrid.”
The bus will be fully outfitted with solar panels, a large water tank and a propane system. According to Natali this will make it very clean for the environment as opposed to living in a larger footprint.
The college senior is also signing the lease to open a bike shop in Fredonia called Fredonia Cycling and the business will be located at 9 Park Place.
“The grand opening is in April. As of right now I do appointments only,” Natali stated. “I do repairs on any type of bike, I focus mostly on vintage bikes and I also have vintage bikes for sale as well as newer bikes. The newer bikes I have for sale are called Biria. I’ll be getting new bikes in around February or March. I saw there was a gap in the market for a bike shop here in town so I thought ‘I’ve been working at a bike shop for five years, I worked in Buffalo at Go Bike as well as South Buffalo WheelHouse and that’s where I got my start.”
In addition to bike repairs, Natali also does hockey officiating for youth and adult leagues.
“I’m actually the assigner here for Steelers Hockey as well as adult hockey,” Natali explained. “I also officiate in Buffalo and have been doing so for 12 years.”
Natali plans on settling in the Fredonia area and running his business full time after graduation. To reach him for appointments you can find Fredonia Cycling on Facebook or Instagram or he can be reached by phone at 697-9173.