Friday, 27 June 2008
I visited six bike shops in Central London over the course of two days this week. Seven if I include a return trip to Velorution on Monday. What I found that it helps to find shops that will meet your needs as a cyclist and the shop is keen to keep you as customer regardless of what kind of cyclist you are.
I went to Bobbins in Clerkenwell to buy a reflective sash. Bobbins is not a shop but a tiny bike workshop and they sell beautiful traditional sit up and beg type bikes from Holland the land of the traditional bike. I had to telephone to book an appointment, in case I clashed with someone in the process of buying a bike. Bobbins had a beautiful range of baskets and I was able to get extra bike straps for mine. My verdict is 6/10 for service and range of stuff on offer. Sadly I can give higher because I am a Brompton owner I am unlikely to use the shop again because they don’t cater for Bromptons.
Bobbins were still better than Evans cycles at London Bridge, where I was told in response to obtaining spare basket straps that ‘We don’t do baskets’. I know there are various Evans shops through out central London but I have never felt comfortable in any of them and they sell Bromptons. I am not a sports cyclist or urban commuter wanna-be sports cyclist. Verdict for Evans for me 3/10.
Which brings me to On Your Bike also at London Bridge, 2 minutes away from Evans. I used to really like this store because they have a wide range of Bromptons and accessories for the Brompton. They also had a range of Timbuk2 bags which I prefer to the Crumpler. This week I discover that they no longer have Timbuk2s and like Evans didn’t have any spare basket straps although they sell baskets of all types. I felt that this is primarily a sports bike store but they can sell other types of bikes. The staff are friendly. Verdict 5/10.
I went to Cycle Surgery in Proctor Street in Holborn. Another sports bike store. The staff say hello but leave you to browse. They had a small range of Timbuk2s. They carry a large range of Bromptons and all the accessories. Verdict 6/10 because a staff member came up to me and asked my about my new Brompton basket. I was impressed that he had noticed.
My lowest point was Condor Bikes also in Clerkenwell. Scary sports bike store. I was ignored by staff. But I was wearing a dress, red cardigan and heels unlike the Lycra wearing customers. They had a range of Timbuk2 bags but I will not be returning any time soon. Verdict 2/10 only because they had the bags, but I wouldn’t want to spend money there.
My surprise visit was Brixton Cycles in Stockwell. Although they are what I would call a sports bike store they are very friendly and clearly concerned to provide a service to all cyclists in the area. I was impressed when the sales person ignored my sarcastic response when asking what kind of Timbuk2 bag I wanted, (I was expecting him to be patronising) and then ran up and down ladders to bring out all the colours they had. He also didn’t hurry me although it was approaching closing time. Verdict 8/10 for service. They can’t get higher because they are not a Brompton stockist.
I shall be making trips to local bike shops and probably doing return journeys to most of those above just to see if my impression is still the same.