I will carry on getting puncture repair quotes and will send an AWARD to the most expensive puncture repair quote in London.


Cr*p Bike Shop opening hours for Bike Commuters

As more and more cyclists commute to work, guess what is missing, in many cases, the bike shop.

I had to walk my broken bike to work in ‘the provincials’ this morning which added to my journey, fortunately it was a short commute, but what would happen if I was commuting long distance like some cyclists do? They would have to try and fix it themselves (as if they will carry a spare chain with them or other parts). And as a woman, I don’t want my hands and clothes to be covered in oil before work. (Some men don’t want that either!)

Some cycle shops are open in London (but only say from 8am) but in other towns they are not. Zilch.

I remember when I was on the London to Paris bike ride, a cyclist completely wrecked his bike gears and he had to be given a replacement bike. At least in London, you could hire a bike but you have the hassle of booking it online and there may be nowhere near to hire it anyway. In Kent,just forget it and hitchhike. As a woman you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the country with a broken bike. Of course it puts us off. Even if you have cycle breakdown insurance the repairer could take ages to come and being alone in the country with a male repairerl, that may not be security checked, is not ideal!

Now if you commute by car, ‘in the provincials’ that is a different matter. Motoring organisations will bend over backwards to get the rush hour commuters. Kwikfit, for example, opens early at 8.30am and closes late at 6pm.

It is really tough if you are an out-of-town working cyclist. They have absolutely no interest in opening early for you or late. Where I live, they wouldn’t dream of opening before 9am and opening late. That’s too much like hard work and they are in the business of ‘selling bikes’. Commuters don’t necessarily want to buy a bike in the rush hour.

Many cyclists work shifts and we are often working when the bike shop is closed. And when it is open, there is a rush to leave work early and hopefully the bike shop will fit it in. That’s what I have to do today. I have no guarantee it will be fixed and I need the bike to get to work tomorrow. Fortunately I do have other bikes but my hybrid is my commuter bike and has it’s useful commuting accessories(and more importantly, it has my flowers on it!).

The bike biz is often not designed for ‘working cyclists’, particularly, as you can see in provincial towns, they are often designed for the one day a month ‘leisure cyclist’. No wonder many bike shops are empty during the day. Bike shops could have a breakfast cafe and bike commuters could have a meal while their bike is being fixed. Even if they open early and late one day a week it is better than having no bike shop around at all like I do.

Surely in Holland bike shops are not all closed in the rush hour?


I have just had a comment from ‘weefoldingbike’ in response:

“Chains rarely break. I snapped one in 1981 going up a steep hill in Ayrshire. Of course I don’t use fancy pants HyperGlide chains.

I carry some tools and a couple of spare tubes. I rarely have more than a Bahco adjustable spanner, some allen keys, a Swiss Army knife and some tyre levers.

A bit of preventative maintenance will mean that little goes wrong. Even punctures can be largely avoided by using something like a Marathon Plus tyre. Check tyres, cables, sprockets and chain at the weekend. Cables fray where they bend. They also get corroded and don’t slide well. Chains get worn and over length. Replace them at 1% over. You can measure it with a Park or Rholoff tool. Keep tyres up to pressure, use a stand up pump with a gauge. Keep it clean and oiled… not easy in the winter but you need to do it.

Another option is to use a Brompton and if something goes wrong you can fold it up and get on the bus.”

Reply: Yes having a Brompton is a great idea although sometimes you could be in country areas where there are no buses until 9am or they finish at 6pm. In London a Brompton could really be handy.  In the countryside, however,you may also have massive hills to deal with so you end up taking a more suitable bike.

Yes a bit of preventative action would help, I agree. But somethings aren’t preventable,for example,say a motorist has gone into your bike and it is dented. Having a bike shop nearby or opening at better hours would give me more confidence to have a longer commute.

List of Puncture Quotes – Sinners & Winners

1) Cycle Surgery (£15) (from Jo Clegg)

2) Bikeade – even comes and visits you £12 (londoncyclist’s website)

3) Evans £18 (Londoncyclist’s Website)

4) Brian’s Bikes, Tonbridge, Kent (secondhand bikes too) – works Sat/Fri £10 – non-chain

5) Bikeworks – Whitechapel £5 labour £5 tube £10

6) Halford (in the provincials £4.99 for the tube, rest on labour. If you just taken in the wheel, it will be cheaper.

7) Cycledelic, Berkeley Square £9.99

This list is growing, keep them coming!  The labour charges are extraordinary. Maybe Evans have problems trying to fit them on!

I’m off in London at the weekend and hope to do a few more. If you have any ‘quotes/ripoffs/excessive labour charges’ let me know on Twitter – Cyclepod1

Puncture Repair Quotes

I will be going to various Bike Shops in London asking for basic puncture repair quotes – this will give you an idea of whether cyclists are being ripped off or not.

I tend to find punctures difficult but it is more to do with me not always being able to put the tyre back on, some tyres are really stiff and I don’t want to be saddled with a bike I can’t use.

A cyclist gets a load of differing quotes too

Londoncyclist had to have a repair done and went round the London Bridge area to get some quotes. Some charged quite high labour costs, others felt ripped off too.

The link to this is on the right hand side of this blog.

Confirmed: Salesman Overcharged me!

I thought there was no point contacting the manager about the ‘labour costs’, after all, they are ‘probably in it together’.

I contacted the Chainy Bike Company and said what are the labour costs for fitting bike lights and/or a speedometer.

He said £12 to put on a speedometer (that was bad enough) and £8 to fit on a set of lights.

That means that Chainy Bike Shop charged me £1 extra compared to the standard Chain’s own actual price. Cheats!

The Chainy Co however said that they are sending round a list of standard prices to their bike shops in the next few weeks. He said he would be happy to receive information about this  and any complaints about bike shops to regional managers.

Just to compare, I rang up Halfords:

Labour Charge £2.99

Speedometer: £2.99 to £5.99 depending on the make.

And their labour charges are clear for customers to see.  A THUMBS UP FOR HALFORDS

When I spoke to another bike shop about their excessive charges, they said ‘Halfords are Muppets, untrained and full of teenaged salesmen’. Personally I think a teenager is quite capable of putting on bike lights!

I rang up Chamberlain bikes – 75-77 Kentish Town Road, London NW1 0207 485 3983

AND THEY DON’T CHARGE TO PUT ON FRONT AND BACK LIGHTS AT ALL – ‘they are quite simple’ they said.

Commission-Hungry Chainy Reptilian Salesman

That’s it. I HAD IT with these Bike Shop Rip off Merchants

For Christmas -well, it was a late present actually (snow buggered up things), I had arranged to get some bike lights (decent ones).

So my friend with a budget of £40 (to which the bike shop reptile knew) sold us a bike light for a whopping £60 – he had convinced us that it was very powerful.

We had been shopping and it was getting dark and late, and we didn’t have our bike tools with us (well, we were shopping, and not going on some epic ride) and we didn’t want to get oil and muck and whathaveyou), so we asked him if he could fit them on. Silence. Then he said we can do it for a ripoff labour charge of £9 (that’s the price of a couple of chinese eat-as-much-as-you-can-buffets for two (or even a Valentine’s meal!)) or perhaps sponsoring a dog for half a year. £9 is much more than the minimum wage for an hour and it is much more than a cinema ticket in the provincials). So it meant ‘I don’t want to do it, I can’t be ar*ed’, you do it” .Considering the bike lights cost £59 for two which is fairly pricey and the shop was empty, he couldn’t be bothered to fit do it. I go to a second hand bike shop sometimes and that guy never charges to put on lights! (unfortunately he wasn’t open).

Well, we flatly refused. (the bike shop reptile was probably estastic about that (unfortunately). So I had to walk home without lights, mostly on the pavement because mine were cr*p). Women’s safety comes at a price. He was probably a Tory, with no conscience.

£70 for two pairs of bike lights.Yes, we wanted one quickly, didn’t want to faff around on the internet even though it was cheaper. Bike shop salesmen always say ‘oh if you use the internet it isn’t good quality etc etc and all that guff) and when you DO use them, they try and fleece you. No wonder their chainy shops are closing down.To be honest, I think we paid for the lights – in shock. It was awful as it was a present, and my friend only had so much. I had offered to pay for some of it, but he had refused.

I wonder how much these labour charges are round the country, how do they vary? Maybe I will ring a few bike shops.

Then the Bike Shop Reptile of Cha iny Bike Company failed to even ask if my friend had a CTC discount?Nah, that was ‘conveniently forgotten’. Funny that, folks.

To top it all, and this really knocked me for six, Commission-hungry Bike Sea Serpent said ‘is there anything else?’

I am now thing of creating a Ripped off by Bike Shops.

Other people may have been happy to pay for it but £9 is steep. I mean, how long does it take to fix both lights on – what a whole hour? Isn’t there a ‘British standard?’

This shop may not have my custom in the future and I have been a customer for years.



3 responses so far ↓

  • jackgreen88 // February 13, 2010 at 9:19 am (edit)
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    // £60 that is very dear plus a further £9 would be outrageous.Should have refused to buy them considering you had to walk Home in the end.

    Moral of the piece always carry some tools you never know when you might need them. One time I slipped and the Bike fell on it’s side and a break Lever was pressed sideways and because I had Tools with me I could fix it. All I had to do was press it back in position and tighten it with an Allen Key.

    I hate Bike Lights that you have to undo Screws to open it when replacing Batteries. I have been caught out in the Dark on a Country Road in Pitch Darkness and having to change Batteries,very awkward using a Coin to unscrew the thing. Best to have a spare Light with you to clip on your Bike.

    If the Bike man would not fix your Lamp on for you I would tell him I was not coming back to his Shop in future. If he laughed I would tell him he is losing out on Potential Bike purchases in future and you will also be warning your Friends and Bike Organisations about the bad Service.

    This is the reason why I prefer Dynamo’s on Bikes they are always there.

  • velochick // February 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm (edit)
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    // Yes, I think I ought to have some tools. I had a problem today when my bungee got stuck in the wheels and I couldn’t get it off. I had to cut it off with a pair of scissors but it is still jammed so I had to change bikes. But having a tool kit just means more things to lose and my bag is more heavy. But yes, this is something I really ought to do!

  • hotporridge // February 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm (edit)
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    // ‘Name and Shame’, please! I’m sick of this nonsense, too. My, once, all time favourite bicycle shop ‘Mosquito Bikes’ from whom I have bought 4 (hybrid) bicycles over the span of 8 years and have sent 2 friends to buy their bikes there, have lost my business for good because of things like this. After having to ‘beg’ for a punctured tyre to be replaced (and offering to buy a whole new continental tyre to compensate them for ‘their time’) , the final straw for me was overhearing another female cyclist asking to borrow the air pump. The response: ‘we no longer give out free air because someone stole the last pump’. Since then, I have not bothered them again. (And those are only two examples of how badly they’ve let down the very people who support their business. I’m now stuck with Cycle Surgery, but as soon as I find a great shop that value loyal customers, I’m on it.