Why I love my local bike shop

Have you found yourself a good local bike shop yet? If you haven’t then you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Chain tool, chain and puncture repair kit picked up from the local bike shopAbove is just some of the bits I have picked up recently.

When I got to the local bike shop I know the advice I will get and the parts I will be recommended will be exactly right. That is the kind of peace of mind you get from someone who has worked on bikes their whole life.

Sure, the local bike shop is run by a grumpy old man that sometimes get’s annoyed when I ask him lots of questions but for me it’s part of the fun! I look forward to going off to make him grumpy!

Recently I even went in and cheekily asked to borrow one of his tools. If I hadn’t said it with such a huge grin I’m sure he would of told me to take myself elsewhere (but not in such a polite way)!

I know, that when the old man in the apron picks up a chain with no brand name on it, or a grease I’ve never even seen sold online and hands it over to me it’s probably the best damn chain and grease there is! “It’s a good chain that one”. I always nod pretending to know more than I do. Frequently, he catches me out. Especially when I try to outsmart the owner but there’s soon a big grin on his face. “Shimano…?” he pauses for effect. “You know they make fishing rods.” They laugh between themselves at this poor helpless fool standing in front of them. Once I get over the humiliation, I pledge to myself to learn more about bike repairs.

A lot of people haven’t discovered the joy of trying to outsmart the local bike shop owner. There’s a number of reasons for this. The one commonly given is “it’s too expensive”

In my experience it’s often cheaper.

There are three reasons for this. The first is if I need something like a replacement chain pin he will give me just one. Elsewhere I would have to buy 3 or more. The second is that I trust the bike shop not to try and sell me more expensive parts when there is no benefits. The third is that when comparing prices I have often found they matched or were cheaper than the ones online.

I love having shops run by local people who love what they do so whenever I can I help them out. Anyway enough about what I love about my local bike shop. With your help I want to discover some more great local bike shops in London and elsewhere so please tell me about your local bike shop and why you go there for your bike bits.

What is your local bike shop and why do you like it?

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19 Responses to Why I love my local bike shop

  1. GB 03/12/2009 at 11:57 am #

    I use Bicycle in Richmond, they are friendly, accomodating and always willing to discuss anything cycling. They have always been able to fit me in when I need something beyond my skill fixing (on a bike I didn’t buy from them) and when I was looking at cycle bags they even pointed me at the web because it was cheaper.
    The best part is the knowledge they have and the non patronising way they share this, I never feel like I am being hustled out of the shop so they can get on to the next customer…

  2. MarkA 03/12/2009 at 12:02 pm #

    Don’t want to sound like a chain-store hater, but I’ve found the level of service offered at Halfords abysmal and Evans not much better. I was once out on a bike ride and got a flat a long way from home – wheeled the bike into a Halfords hoping they could sell me a new inner tube and fit it so I could be on my way. I was told to come back in six weeks!

    I have two local very fabulous bike shops near me where I always get good service:

    Lock 7 cafe at Broadway Market in Hackney for general ‘bike perving’ and great coffee – they often have lots of more unusual bikes for sale too and do repairs whilst you wait. And some cool accessories.

    For maintenance and gear you can’t beat Bike Magic on Greatorex Street in Whitechapel – they’re good, not too grumpy and don’t care if you’re a total novice or if (as in my case) your bike is a bit cack – they understand it’s about the getting about and not the bike and won’t try to sell you a ££££££ carbon fibre road machine when all you need is a new steel wheel…

    If you’re feeling flash and want some fancy city accessories of course Cycle Chic, run by blogger Caz have some lovely things to put on the ol’ Christmas list.

    Andreas – after all you forgot to mention which your fave bike shop is, or are you keeping it a secret so it doesn’t get inundated?

  3. Deptford Dame 03/12/2009 at 1:40 pm #

    Unfortunately we recently lost our great independent bike shop (Witcomb’s) when the business relocated to Wales, but up till that time it was a great place for all the reasons you mentioned. Once I went in there to try and buy some new brake levers but they didn’t have the ones I wanted (the ones for drop handlebars which also have a lever for the middle bit of the handlebar – excuse me for not knowing the technical term!). Instead, he rummaged in a drawer behind the counter and brought out a pair of second-hand levers, just the sort I wanted, and gave them to me for nothing.
    Luckily we have gained a branch of Cycles UK – nothing like as quirky or fun as Witcomb’s, but so far I’ve found their service very high standard, and there’s been no condescending attitude to those of us with limited technical knowledge!

  4. Alastair Humphreys 03/12/2009 at 2:39 pm #

    nice – anything that keeps people away from the miserable-ness of Evans is good by me!

  5. Craig 03/12/2009 at 3:56 pm #

    Haven’t got one and the closest to a reliable bike shop is Bike plus in Croydon, and really they are only interested in high end tourers and MTBS so you can imagine that the array of parts can creak your wallet if you are not careful. Having said that the workshop is great and if you are on the right side of them they will always try to help out with some sound advice.

  6. Titan yer Tummy 03/12/2009 at 7:31 pm #

    Deens in Beckenham keeps me on the road. Wonderful bike shop with that lovely bike shop smell and a workshop out the back. I think the current owner took it over from his Dad. It’s been there at the War Memorial Roundabout ever since I can remember 30 years anyway.

    But how about this:

    I cycled to work yesterday – 12 miles Beckenham to Holborn. Got wet on the way in. It dried up a bit for a while in the day but by going home time it was pouring. I got togged up and set off.

    At Elephant and Castle I had a front puncture just about half a mile from the bike shop which was still open (6pm). They wanted £12.50 to fix it if they supplied the tube and £7.50 if they used my tube. I am not normally pretty mean in these circumstances but I was too wet to care so I asked them to put my tube on. Fifteen minutes later (and £7.50 poorer) I was back on the road in even heavier rain. Three miles further on at Peckham the front tyre went again. With no spare tube I gave up and caught the train. Whilst waiting on the platform I did a quick tyre inspection and quickly found and removed the offending glass shard. And the bike shop concerned – RECYCLING, ELEPHANT RD, SE17. – Guess who will be getting a visit from me today.

    Update:

    Went in to get my money back tonight and guess what “WE DON’T DO REFUNDS LUV. SORRY YOU’VE HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH US!!!”

    Can you even believe it??

    • Russell Cronin 15/05/2010 at 4:18 pm #

      Recycling used to have a good reputation, but has gone rapidly downhill since the business changed hands a couple of years ago. Not only are the staff routinely rude and patronising, but the brand new bike they sold me turned out to be a death trap when numerous spokes in the back wheel snapped while I was in traffic. Recycling refused to accept liability for the faulty goods they sold me and their ‘mechanic’ tried to make out that the problem was my fault. They did offer discount on the repair, but I wouldn’t give this bunch of crooks another penny.

  7. The Bristol Bike Project 03/12/2009 at 11:41 pm #

    If you’re in Bristol I’d highly recommend Jake’s Bikes. So popular he’s now by appointment only. A very decent and enthusiatic guy who’s emphasis is on recycling, reusing, fixing and empowering people with knowledge, althoug he does sell new bits and bikes too if needed. He’s also a great supporter of us next door at The Bristol Bike Project.

    Slightly further out of town in Fishponds, Bristol, is Bools Bicycles, http://www.boolsbicycles.co.uk who is also recommended for bike s in gnereal but also specific on fixed gear bikes.

  8. Teresa 04/12/2009 at 12:06 pm #

    My local bike shop is Cyclopolis in Balham. They’re great -know what they’re talking about, have build wheels for me, and every job is done to perfection (and cheaply).

    On the way back from Richmond Park once, i suffered a puncture (and no spares on me – that changed quickly!), but the puncture happened conveniently right in front of Stratton Cycles on East Hill, Wandsworth SW18. Amazing service. Went in, provided me with all the tools and only charged me the inner tube. When he saw me struggling with my brand new road tyres, he actually came out and gave me a crash course on changing inner tubes (and replacing tyres) without the need to throw a hissy fit and lose the will to live before it somehow pops back on. I guess that’s why they’ve been there for over 100 years!

    Near to work, my emergency workshop of choice are Cycle Surgery on Great Portland Street. They really know what they’re talking about, and nothing is too much trouble for them.

  9. Andrew Boff 04/12/2009 at 4:04 pm #

    Love http://www.lock-7.com
    They know what they are talking about … and in the very rare instances that they don’t know they won’t pretend.

  10. Timothy Hawkins 06/12/2009 at 4:36 pm #

    Can I put a work in for Waldens in Kingston upon Thames. He is admittedly grumpy but very good. I’d taken my bike to a couple of bike shops over a year or so (including Evans) to get the gears sorted out and the result was never quite satisfactory. Walden’s job was spot on, and at £40 for a new tyre and tube plus fixing the gears so they felt like new, an absolute bargain. Evans in Kingston however have given me such poor service that I was moved to make an official complaint.

  11. Andreas 07/12/2009 at 9:23 am #

    Thanks all for recommendations! Good to hear that there are a lot of good bike shops out there in London!

  12. Julia 07/12/2009 at 1:22 pm #

    This article angers me when you get stuff like “They laugh between themselves at this poor helpless fool standing in front of them. Once I get over the humiliation, I pledge to myself to learn more about bike repairs.”

    Umm, this is the stuff that put me off cycling, and bike shops. What on earth, why should being humiliated be part of the good bike shop experience? Sure, I need to learn more about bike repair, more about bikes and really would like to find a shop where I can discuss what’s best for me as a cyclist. But I hate that humiliation that you’re put through “Something’s up with my bike, please explain to me what’s going on and how I can avoid it. I’ll pay you, you are after all the professional” should not be met with derision.

    If you can find me a bike shop that can advise me without the humiliation, thanks.
    Admin: Edited out the swearing

  13. Andreas 07/12/2009 at 1:26 pm #

    Hey Julia, sorry to hear you were angered about it. I was just poking fun at the situation, it was not meant as a serious “I was humiliated” – I don’t think the experience in most bike shops is like that and if that is what you have been finding you should find a different bike shop.

    Like I say it’s just a bit of friendly banter between me and the local bike man.

  14. Sonia 09/12/2009 at 10:57 am #

    My local bike shop is Psubliminal (almost opposite Cyclopolis in Balham). Psub was there first! I’ve always been treated very well by Al and Steve and, they sometimes work on my bike for free (small jobs) and don’t tease me too much as I clearly know very little about bikes even after a year’s riding!

  15. Matt 17/01/2010 at 4:52 pm #

    I give my vote to Cyclopolis, my local shop in Balham. Knowledgeable and hard working staff has helped me on several occasions. I was very pleased to ride my Cannondale after they serviced it (and their prices are very affordable). Very flexible and friendly people are working there.

  16. russell 24/02/2010 at 3:43 pm #

    I bought my racer from Brixton Cycles and it came with a year free service. Its a co-op and the guys (and gals) are lovely.
    But I must also recommedn Cycledelic. They have a website and they are a mobile service, very reliable, trustworthy and brilliant. They come either to your home or your work.

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