It’s the place where you can spend untroubled hours gazing longingly at what may turn out to be your next purchase, where the staff become friends, and where wheeling in your stricken steed for emergency repair or a minor tweak that would otherwise ruin your ride is never a problem.
We speak, of course, of the local bike shop, an enterprise known in cycle industry jargon as the IBD – the independent bike dealer. We’ll be saluting these champions of cycling in an occasional series, and asking you to nominate your favorite shops in the forum. Who knows – we may even pay them a visit.
We’ll start the ball rolling with Ride, in the Dorset town of Poole, a hub for a large and still growing community of road cyclists and mountain bikers, run by Ritchie Hilton-Foster, and his wife Beck, ably supported by Jon Hayes, Andy Phillips, Dave Padfield, and Lloyd Elston.
The shop, whose distinctive frontage belies its first incarnation as an off-licence, has specialised in outdoor sports since 1978, evolving from the Poole Mountain Bike Centre to Xtreme, Ride Cycleworks, and now plain and simple Ride, reflecting a cross-code approach to road and off-road riding, and a growing portfolio of brands that includes Colnago, Cipollini, Scott, and Trek.
The combination of the low ceiling-ed entrance and high-end kit gives the shop the feeling of an Aladdin’s cave. Step through the door, and you’ll encounter a Cipollini RB1000. A few feet further, and an Ultegra Di2-equipped Trek Madone 5.9 presents itself. Look up, and there’s a Colnago C59 hanging from the roof. Glass cabinets filled with shiny and desirable items are placed at strategic intervals around the packed floor space (Pro carbon finishing kit, Reynolds Assault wheels, Giro footwear etc).
But to describe the shop by its stock is to miss entirely the Ride rasion d’etre. Their secret ingredient lies in the community built among the customers who turn up in their scores for the twice-weekly guided rides.
Ride has a great team, some nice stock, and an inclusive feel that allows the customer to spend time browsing and discussing their needs without feeling pressured to purchase.
Tell us your favourite shop in the forum.