Friday, 27 June 2008

Bike Shops

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.


Si said...

yer correct assessment of shops..

out of that bunch Brixton Cycles is by far the best - v helpful.

Just the other day whilst I was waiting to be served I got chatting to a lady who was uming and aghing over whether to buy a brommie - as an owner i gve my views etc - she decided to buy and mentioned my advice to the shop - they gave me a discount on the stuff i was buying.

Joseph said...

I'm a fan of Brixton Cycles, they are a pleasant bunch to be around and seem to know their stuff. I went to buy an inner tube for my bike, and one of the staff lent me all the kit to replace the inner tube with, they even lent me a track pump (which looked very expensive) whilst I went outside the shop to do the repair.

It's a shame they aren't a Brompton retailer, it would be nice.

BTW I hope you apologised for your sarky remark :)

Si said...

Hiya again,

another to add to the list would be Pearsons Cycles in Sutton. Bought a new road bike from them and they were very helpful. Once of the best bike shope experiences in the long time. They are also a Brompton dealer.