Friday 22 May 2009

Cycles UK, 'Greenwich' (Deptford really)

I have been somewhat remiss in reviewing the new Cycles UK shop on Creek Road, which opened in March, and the recent review by Sustrans' Bike Belles has prompted me to get my act together.

First off, apologies for the poor photo, which is not particularly representative of what you should see as you approach the shop - as Jane mentions in her review, it usually has racks of bikes outside on the pavement.

Just a bit of background - I would describe myself as a very experienced touring cyclist (yikes, is it really 25 years?!!) and one who now commutes daily by cycle into central London. Although I'm very practical and can do most of my bike maintenance myself, I have never been the sort of person who reads cycle magazines, pores over technical specs, or knows about the latest type of gear shifters/brakes/tyres etc. I'm fairly old-school and low tech in my approach to cycling. That being said, I'm happy to spend money on good quality items and can see the benefit in waterproof panniers, good lights, comfortable clothing etc.

I was delighted to see the arrival of a new cycle shop in the area (technically it's Greenwich borough, but since it's this side of the Creek I will claim it for Deptford!) and since Witcomb's has now deserted Tanner's Hill for a much bigger facility in Wales, I won't feel bad about patronising the newcomer!

To be honest I was never able to give Witcomb's much of my business because they rarely had what I wanted in their restricted stock, but I did use them for occasional spoke replacements/wheel trueing and won't ever forget Barrie digging around in one of the many boxes behind the counter and finding some second-hand old fashioned brake levers for me to fit on my new bike. My fallback for inner tubes, helmets etc was Decathlon - not far on the bike but a bit of a pain when buying awkward items such as new tyres.

I visited the Cycles UK shop shortly after it opened, with nothing more in mind than browsing the shelves and seeing what sort of stock they were carrying. It's a spacious shop with quite a lot of bikes on show, including some lovely Pashley classics, which I would definitely be tempted by if only my bike storage wasn't up two flights of stairs!

As well as lots of wall space carrying a wide range of parts, accessories, tools and clothing, they have some great panniers which overcome the old problem that as waterproof as my panniers are, they don't look great and are not very easy to carry when you are going out in town after work.

I was particularly taken by this model of Basil bag, which can be bought singly or as a pair and each has a webbing strap so that it can be slung over your shoulder messenger-bag stylee.

I found the level of service attentive without being overbearing; during the time I was browsing, almost every member of staff asked if I needed any help, but managed to do so without making me feel like I was under any obligation.

The shop also offers a Tacx trainer which means you can try out different race stages from around the world, and the more practical implication is that beginners or less experience riders get a chance to try out and get used to the bike before going on the road.

If you want to check out the shop (and I recommend you do!) it's open seven days a week and is only about five minutes' walk from Deptford Station, Cutty Sark DLR, and Greenwich overground/DLR (take the side exit from Greenwich station/DLR). Or cycle there of course...

Current opening hours are:
Weekdays 10-7
Saturday 9-6
Sunday 11-5


Anonymous said...

The shop is definitely, absolutely, and unambiguously in Deptford - not quite sure why they feel the need to tell porkies about their location.

Richie Castle said...

RIP Witcomb in Deptford - there's definitely something to say for the bike shop which has nothing that you need.

There was always so much going on at Witcomb's, the mixture of the modern and the new, always slightly shambolic; and therefore, to my mind, perfect in Depford.

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