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Using a Bike to Hit the Right Notes

Running a piano tuning service is unusual, but not completely out of the ordinary. Making the house calls by bicycle is truly unique. For the last four years, Lucas Lorang has done just that as part of his business Lorang Piano Service. I recently met with him to understand this novel approach to earning a livelihood.

The piano tuning maestro at work.

To strengthen his skills he completed a two-year program at the Chicago School for Piano Technology which culminated in rebuilding a baby grand piano. He later completed the certification process, and today Lucas is a Registered Piano Technician. ​A credential he holds with pride.

Lucas started tuning pianos in 2008 as a way to improve the sound quality of pianos he used for playing. He read a book to get started and from this initial tinkering eventually decided he could make a profession out of it.

Making Service Calls with a Bike

Making house calls in the winter.

Prior to returning to Chicago, Lucas lived in Oakland, CA and learned to travel by bike and skateboard. After returning home he explored the possibility of running a piano tuning business. ​He realized that riding to the client's location would be a good option given the urban density of Chicago. Today, he rides from 50-120 miles during a typical week.

Since he rides year-round dressing for the weather is a necessity, During rainy days, his outfit includes a rain jacket, rain pants and boots. In colder weather the preparation is more involved. 

In addition to clothing he needs to plan which tools to carry in his saddlebags.  Before riding on-site he tries to understand the potential service issues so he can pack the proper piano tuning tools, thereby reducing weight. 

Shared Love of Music and Biking

I met Lucas through Farmer Jon who runs a composting business by bicycle - the two entrepreneurs happen to be roommates.

What are the odds, you may ask, of two roommates each having successful businesses that are powered by bicycles? It turns out that in addition to biking, they both have a love of music and started playing music together in a local Chicago bar.

Listen to Lucas' advice to bike commuters

Continously Improving Skills and the Environment

​As part of his apprenticeship, Lucas worked at Keys 4/4 Kids. This non-profit organization collects used pianos as donations and employs technicians to restore the pianos to working order. Refurbished pianos are sold to raise funds for kid's programs and donated to schools.

Like any craftsman, Lucas is constantly trying to improve his piano tuning skills and become more efficient. His longer term-goal for the business is a greater emphasis on piano rebuilding.

Today, he is a member of the Piano Technicians Guild and also does piano tuning work at Piano Forte Chicago and Steinway Piano Gallery to hone his skills.

In a similar manner, he believes continuous improvement in the biking infrastructure is helpful. He has seen improvements in the number of bike lanes and signage. He believes that building on those efforts and designating more bike lanes to deliberately separate cars/buses and bikes would be beneficial and safer.

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