We love bikes at Esquire - check out our feature on fixed gear bicycles in the upcoming September issue (if you haven't got one already you'll definitely want one after reading it). When we put out the call on Twitter for Britain's best bike shops, we were inundated with nominations. So here, in the first of two parts, is our list of the best of what London has to offer...
Condor Cycles, London: Regarded as the Granddaddy of biking shops by many, Condor Cycles has been pedaling – pun intended - their brand of tailor-made cycles since 1948. Still a family business, Condor build each of their own bikes from scratch and to the customer’s exact specifications – though they still sell other brands, and a wide range of clothing and accessories. Based in central London, they cater for those city types willing to brave the rush-hour traffic to cycle to work. Commendable. Selling well: Owner Greg Needham is glad to say Condor’s own models Pista and Fratello are leading the way in city cycling. (49-53 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8PP. 020 7269 6820; www.condorcycles.com)
The London Bicycle Workshop, London: A bike shop with a difference - half retail space, half open workshop. In a unique voyeuristic approach, London Bicycle Workshop allow members of the public watch their mechanics at work, as well selling a complete range of commuter-orientated accessories and building custom bikes. Selling well: Though only selling custom-made rides the trend in road-bikes continues as Cinelli frames and DT Swiss rims prove popular with the savvy city rider. (170 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R 5DD. 020 7998 8738; www.londonbicycleworkshop.com)
Cyclefit, London: Never has such precision been used in picking one’s bike. By appointment only, Cyclefit assess your body and mind for three hours in a series of very technical exercises, then they custom-build to specifications you didn’t even know you had. The owners are both certified by the Serotta International Cycling Institute and will evaluate your every inch to get the final few percent of performance out of your machine. Selling well: With every client being unique it is hard to say what is selling well, but custom footbeds, which help you use the bike to its full potential, are all the rage. (11-13 Macklin Street, London, WC2. 020 7430 0083; www.cyclefit.co.uk)
Brixton Cycles, London: A bike shop straight out of the USSR – not in a trust no one, suspect everyone kind of way, but as in everyone is equal. There are no managers, and the shop is run for the benefit of the cycling community. They’re also Europe’s biggest dealer in Surley steel-frame bikes. Priding themselves in their unique ethos and approach to customers, Brixton Cycles’ co-operative store has been pleasing couriers and commuters with their range of road-bikes since 1982. Selling well: Brixton Cycles have noticed a comeback for touring-bikes as well as Surley models Cross Check and Steam Roller. (145 Stockwell Road, Brixton, SW9 9TN. 020 7733 6055; www.brixtoncycles.co.uk)
Tokyo Cycles, London: Trendsetters Tokyo Cycles are at the forefront of what's really exciting in the London scene. Dealing with everything road – fixed-gear, single speed, racing and touring – these guys custom build each model for an individual cycling experience. They are also the only shop in London where you can get hold of American brand Leader bikes. With their ear close to the ground, they see more heavy duty free-style road bikes being sold – the BMXs of road-biking, if you will. Selling well: Fast aluminium track bikes seem to be popular as London’s thirst for adrenalin remains unslaked. (4 Peter Street, London, W1F 0AD. 020 7734 1885; www.tokyofixedgear.com)
Bobbins, London: The most beautiful bike shop in Britain – at least this is how Bobbins sell themselves, and we’d be inclined to agree. Focusing on the more aesthetically-pleasing characteristics of cycling, these guys supply fine steel-framed, up-right vintage bikes. With brands like English-made Pashley and Royal Dutch Gazelle you will either look extremely dashing or be able to convince your better half to accompany you on the early morning commute. That’s love, no? Selling well: The Pashleys and Swedish brand Skeppshult are in vogue, not forgetting the shop's utopian own brand, Bobbins. (397 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LD. 020 7837 3370; www.bobbinbicycles.co.uk) Hugh Morris
To see the Twitter nominations for best bike shops in the rest of the UK, click here