There has been a recent push in London to become a more bike-friendly city. With all the fantastic bike paths snaking through the many parks and green areas in the city, it’s no wonder biking is becoming more popular! Many Londoners are even realizing that a bicycle is a great vehicle for their commute as well – cheaper, healthier, and better for the environment! With all this bike buzz happening in London, many people are taking their old bikes out of storage or looking to get a new one. While big box stores do have some standard models, the local bike shops are always more exciting. Each has their own personality, with different styles of bike available. Beyond the ever-present importance supporting local business, the bike shops on this list are more likely to give you a product that you’ll truly be excited about.
To Wheels has been a go-to spot for London bike enthusiasts since 1971. Located just a couple doors down from the SKB office on Dundas Street, To Wheels offers bikes, accessories, and repairs with expertise to make sure you’re getting the right product or service for you. You can buy just about anything bike related at To Wheels from full bikes to clothing to, yes, even wheels. Their vehicles aren’t limited to the classic bike either. They have their classic road and mountain bikes, but they also have pedal assist bikes (aka e-bikes), and BMX/dirt jump bikes. They also sell bike parts, proper biking attire, and accessories like locks, helmets, and car racks. Getting repairs at To Wheels is quick and painless. Whether you need something replaced, or just a quick tune up after the bike sat in your garage all winter, the guys at To Wheels will have you back on that bike in record time. To Wheels will always have a special place in the hearts of SKB, as they’re the ones that brought our currently unnamed vintage tandem Schwinn (help give it a name here!) back to life! It took some real searching to find the right parts, but To Wheels performed a miracle and it’s back to peak condition! On top of repairs, To Wheels also offers a bike fitting service. It’s crucial that your bike be a proper fit, or you’ll sacrifice speed and potentially injure yourself. With proper fit, you can ride longer, faster, and safer. Bike fittings come complementary when you purchase a road bike from To Wheels, otherwise it’s $99 for the basic fit or $299 for the Retul Fit, which uses 3D motion capture technology and specialized body geometry to calculate the ideal riding position for you. This is a 2-3 hour process, but you’ll end up with bike measurements to the millimeter. For the casual rider the Retul Fit may be excessive, but if you’re a racer, this could make all the difference.
London Bicycle Café is fantastic new face in the London cycling scene. The bike shop/café combo opened their doors in 2017 in the downtown core. They’re really doing it right, offering top quality bike repair and incredible caffeinated beverages out of their Clarence St. storefront. The owner, Ben Cowie, is a former NASA employee, Harvard postdoctoral fellow, and current bicycle enthusiast. If those accolades somehow don’t win your trust, he is also a certified professional bicycle mechanic from the Winterborne Institute in Guelph, so you can be confident in the fact that this man knows how to fix a bicycle. For bike repairs, if you’ve booked an appointment they offer same-day service for basic and regular tune ups. Drop your bike off the night before or by 10:00AM, and you’ll have it back by the time they close! Walk-ins are also welcome, but bikes with appointments will take precedence. If you’re in the market for a new ride, London Bicycle Café has you covered! They’ve got a whole host of different bike models, including e-bikes, for sale. From Achielle, a European brand that brings the classic Euro style, to Brompton, an ingenious bicycle with a folding frame that fits perfectly under your desk, in a closet, or in your car’s trunk. Their final bike-related service is e-bike rentals. Whether you want to go on a half-day excursion zipping around downtown or want to try out biking to work for a month, London Bicycle Café has options for you. Starting at $40 for a half-day rental, they invite you to experience the e-bike lifestyle – pedal when you want, but you’re free to take breaks without having to stop. On the café side of things, their beans come from Rosso Coffee Roasters, a Canadian roaster with bold, complex coffees. Get it as a latte, flat white, or just a classic drip. Their head barista, Jenn Dylowicz, is a master in both the brewing of java and amazing latte art! Their food is as local as you can get, offering sandwiches made from the OEV Grocer, and baked goods from Petit Paris Bakery and BoHo Bake Shop. Vegans rejoice, as there are non-dairy options for your drinks, a vegan wrap from OEV Grocer, and all Boho products are vegan friendly from their donuts to their bars! London Bicycle Café serves two functions, which often leads to poor performance. Thankfully, London Bicycle Café manages both with ease, offering excellent service for both bicycle lovers and coffee addicts alike.
Outspokin Cycles is a rider-owned and operated bike store in the northeast of London, Ontario, bringing their passion for biking to the public at large. The team at Outspokin consists of four bike experts. Russ Higginbottom owns the place, Tara Mott is known as the “shop wizard,” Ben Steadman is the service manager and mechanic, and Cody Bartlett also works in service. Whether you’re in the market for a new bike or looking to get the one you’ve already got tuned up, Outspokin is the place to go. In the realm of new bikes, they offer eight quality brands that are sure to get your heart (and your feet) pumping. Surly, Shimano, and Louis Garneau bikes are among their fleet that you can buy. They also have a feature of the month, a specific model of bike that you can grab at a discounted rate. At the time of writing, their feature of the month is the Big Kahuna, a mountain bike with 27.5-inch-plus tire, meaning the tires are extra wide for more contact with the earth. On the other hand, if your heart is already taken by a bike and it’s not doing so hot, bring it in to either Tara, Ben, or Cody and they’ll have you riding it like it’s brand new in no time. Their list of services include an overall tune up, flat repair, disc brake bleed, and many more. Head to their site for the full list. If you don’t see exactly what you need, don’t worry! They are a full service shop so give them a call and tell them what you need, and they’ll sort you out right quick. Outspokin also hosts group rides every Wednesday through the Fanshawe Conservation Area. They welcome all levels to join them on their ride, from the mountain bike extraordinaire to the biking novice. If you’re looking for a group to ride with, these are your guys! For the last eight years, their store is located in Carling Heights, but they’ll be moving to a new location on Hamilton Road as of December 2018. Their services and staff remain the same top tier quality, but now in a new, exciting location. We wish them well in their move and can’t wait to see the new digs!
Squeaky Wheel Bike Co-Op is a volunteer-run, self-serve bike repair shop that was started by London Cycle Link, a local cycling advocacy group. Their aim is to make London a more cycling-friendlier city. They work with the City and other organizations to develop cycling culture and enhance cycling safety in London. For the annual membership fee of $20, that’s right $20 per year, you gain access to the co-op’s resources: tools, bike stands, repair assistance, member-pricing on select parts, workshops, and even refurbished bikes for sale. The workshops are hosted by cycling enthusiasts and cycling repair gurus, including Tara from Outspokin which we just talked about above, to help you learn about common bike issues, how to fix them and how to avoid them. Different workshops have different focuses, such as brakes or women in cycling. The hours at Squeaky Wheel are pretty limited, only open Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30-9:00PM and on Saturday from 1:00-4:00PM. It’s unfortunate but completely understandable considering the staff are volunteers. Hopefully you can find an evening or Saturday afternoon to head down and check it out, or stay tuned to their social media about upcoming workshops! Squeaky Wheel Bike Co-Op is offering a fantastic service with noble cause. Cycling is healthy for both you and the planet, and Squeaky Wheel is helping everyone put their pedal to the metal.
Purple Bikes is an initiative started by the University Student’s Council at Western in the effort to make sustainable transportation, such as cycling, more financially accessible. Although it is a part of Western, anyone and everyone is invited to drop by. Purple Bikes is a non-profit cycling co-operative that operates under the principle of DIY. All of the tools are at your disposal, and with some advice from their volunteer mechanics, you take a crack at fixing your bike yourself. Or if you aren’t looking to get your hands dirty, the mechanics can fix it for you for a reasonable price. If you don’t have a bike of your own, Purple Bikes also rents them out at a rock bottom price – 3 days for $20, 1 week for $30, or a full month for $60! They offer a selection of road, mountain, and hybrid bikes for you to pick from. All rentals include a helmet, lights and reflectors, and a U-lock, so you can be sure you’re safe without investing any more money. If you’ve got a bike sitting in your garage that you’ll never use, some extraneous parts, or a spare set of tools lying around, Purple Bikes eagerly accepts donations. No matter how big or small your donation, it helps Purple Bikes maintain their incredible service without upping their price. Alternatively, if you’ve got some time to kill, Purple Bikes is always looking for volunteers. You could be a repairman at heart or just looking to get a little handier, Purple Bikes is excited by your interest. They can provide training for people lacking in mechanical skill, It should be noted that Purple Bikes does have limited hours as they are a function of Western. They are open Monday to Thursday from 4:00PM to 7:00PM, and closed on holidays. Biking on a budget can be hard to pull off, but Purple Bikes makes it so much easier. Whether you just want to rent for a month or your two-wheeler needs a tune up, Purple Bikes has you covered without breaking the bank.
N+1 Cycle may sound like a math conundrum, but in reality, it’s an awesome bike shop on Richmond Street just north of Horton. At N+1, biking isn’t just functional, it’s also a statement about your personality – your bike says a lot about you. You can from scratch with a custom build or pick from one of their pre-built bikes. They offer both new and vintage bicycles They emphasize customization with parts and accessories. They carry a selection of unique brands that they love and think you will to! Their range includes frames and handlebars from companies such as SOMA Fabrications and Brodie Bicycles, and bags and bike-compatible camping gear from Swift Industries, and so much more. You could walk out of N+1 with a bike that is completely unique and attuned to your personality. Once you buy that bike, they won’t leave you high and dry if something goes wrong. They are also equipped for performing repairs! They offer a full range of services, from the basic tune up to helping you build your dream custom bike. The team at N+1 Cycle is incredibly knowledgeable, whether you need something fixed and aren’t sure what exactly the problem is, or you’re just looking to chat about obscure European bike builds, they’ll be excited to engage with you and give you their best. The only thing better than their bike selection is their customer service.
They may be known for serving up some of the best coffee in London, but did you know 10Eighteen also sells bikes? SKB’s very own Manbun, Carlon, bought his beloved Linda from 10Eighteen. They don’t always have them available, but they occasionally offer vintage and refurbished bicycles that you would see on their bike rack in the back of the café. So next time you’re grabbing a cup of joe at 10Eighteen and you a slick-looking bike catches your eye, inquire with the staff and it may be yours.