The first time I met Tony from Walthamstow Cycles, I had to apologise to him, I had to apologise, grovel, then apologise some more. I’d arranged for him to come and collect my mountain bike, it had been stuck in the shed for the winter and needed servicing. I optimistically assured Tony that the bike was more or less fine, I told him it probably just needed a bit of oil on the chain. In reality of course, if the bike had been a horse, it would have been on its way to the glue factory. Unfortunately, Tony took me at my word and had decided he was going to ride the bike back to his workshop. I remember the look on his face when he arrived and saw the rusting heap of metal I wheeled out of the front door. I think it might be a little worse that I thought, I said to him and then smiled awkwardly. The chain fell off when he first got on the bike, the front brake was stuck, and the tyres were more or last flat. Standing in the front garden I watched him slowly creak up the road on the buggered old bike. Sorry, thanks, really sorry, thanks again, sorry about the bike, I called after him. I don’t know what Tony did to resuscitate Roger (I always name my bikes), but it was a gleaming rust free dream machine when it came home.
Since then Tony has been a bit of a god send to Walthamstow bikers. Cruising around E17, collecting bikes, fixing bikes, returning bikes. Always moving on to the next collection or drop off, like the bike repair man version of the littlest hobo. Maybe tomorrow he might just settle down, until tomorrow he’ll just keep moving on. Thankfully, tomorrow arrived and Walthamstow cycles found a great new place to settle down, the old Coach & Horses pub on St James Street. I popped in to the shop on Saturday to find out if I needed to book a slot to get Philip serviced. Philip is my current bike, he’s called Philip because he folds in half, Philip the folding the bike (yes I need to get out more). Tony gave me a tour of the shop, and there’s much more to it than you might think, it’s like a tardis, much bigger on the inside.
Currently, the workshop and retail sides of Walthamstow Cycles are both on the ground floor of the old pub. Eventually though, the workshop will be moved in to the basement, which is absolutely vast. Taking up the entire footprint of the building, you could swing several cats downstairs and still have room to house a squadron of Morris Dancers. From what I could see, it’s a good job Walthamstow Cycles has lots of room, because the new shop seems pretty busy. In the short time I was there, people were constantly in and out, buying brake cables, booking services and asking about new bikes. This is the kind of shop where you get fantastic customer service, and free advice by the bucket load. It costs £50 to get a bike serviced, and I’ve only ever heard positive comments about the quality of work carried out.
For me, Walthamstow Cycles is the perfect example of why I much prefer to use and support local businesses. It’s run by someone who has a passion and real interest in what they are doing, and that makes all difference. This isn’t some faceless mega store on a retail estate, this is the end result of someone doing what they really love. You can find Walthamstow Cycles on Facebook, Twitter and online, or pop in to the shop at 63 St James Street.