Eyeing MiCycle in Islington from the outside you imagine it looks like your typical bike shop. Shiny bikes on display and bike mechanics carefully reviving neglected bikes. But something more is happening here behind the scenes. You could say MiCycle is part of a new breed of bike shops.
I try to open the door but realise they have to buzz me in. Security problems I’m later informed. The police advise to install cameras but that advice is ignored by the owners. Why should normal customers who don’t want to be filmed suffer they explain to me. After a quick tour of the shop and workshop I sit down with Penny, one of the owners, in the zen-like garden located at the back. I try to think if I’ve ever sat in the back garden of a bike shop before. There is a really relaxed feel about the place. This is somewhere you can just walk in and have an informal chat.
MiCycle feels like a million miles from the normal bike shops which I’ve often found unwelcoming and a little patronising. I’m not the only one to think this and as Penny goes on to explain that was one of the first aims of the shop and the reason it came about. A lot of bike shops have a bad reputation to not provide a good service. Of course in recent years that is beginning to change.
Matthew, who opened the shop with Penny, joins us and offers a cup of coffee. They are quick to tell me that the bike shop isn’t exactly a cafe as such and someone shouldn’t expect a range of sandwiches. But you can certainly have a drink and a nice cappuccino.
Then they begin to surprise me with all the extra services the bike shop offers. Now, I’m sure in recounting these I’ll miss a couple but let me try anyway:
- A bike wash – come in and use their bike washing tools for free. After all giving your bike a good wash is one of the best ways to avoid expensive maintenance work.
- Maintenance classes – learn how to look after your own bike. It can give you incredible independence and it’s great to know how that machine you use every day works. The classes are usually small in size and work in a very relaxed atmosphere.
- Swap a bike – kids grow out of bikes so fast. The shop offers kids to swap their bikes for a bigger model. I love this idea.
- Borrow tools – you can go in and tinker with your bike using their tools. This is great as bike tools can be very expensive.
- Pick up a broken bike – using their trailer bike MiCycle are able to pickup your broken bike and take it to the shop for repairs. They will even return it to you if you wish.
- Home storage design – Penny is an expert in home storage solutions for bicycles and she can consult with you if you want to find a better way to store your bike at home
- Wifi and Coffee – in the garden designed by Joe Swift!
Some shops, such as MiCycle, have realised they are not selling bikes, they are selling cycling. It is this complete package that will keep people coming back and building a good relationship with their shop. I like this new attitude and with the sheer range of services on offer, MiCycle are really taking it to the next level.
I really hope to see more bike shops such as MiCycle in London. The nice owners have even offered London Cyclist readers 10% off their bike service. Just quote the name of the site. So, if you feel like your bike could do with some love and care then take it over to see what they can do for you.
One tip though: Just don’t ask Matthew if he sells electric bikes.
Web: http://www.micycle.org.uk/ Address: 47 Barnsbury Street London N1 1TP
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.