Tuesday Treats 32: Charlie the Bikemonger

by singletrackjay 14

Your once a week dose of product fancy from Singletrack’s Premier Dealers, stockists and advertisers.

Tuesday Treats gives you a quality serving of independent bike retailing and a chance to win big, in this week’s prize draw.

This week, we introduce Charlie the Bikemonger:

The tale of how Charlie The Bikemonger came ‘to be’ is in short, a tale of an epiphany, Alice Copper and pastry chefs. We think it’s best Charlie picks up the story himself.

Insert appropriate joke here…

‘I’m a diehard cyclist (try hard not to die, almost fail occasionally) located in Swanage on the south coast in Dorset. People however seem to think I come from Kent. I hear them mutter words to that effect when I cycle past’.

I’ve always been well into cycling and have been singlespeeding since 1999 and riding bikes offroad since 1979. I have placed in the top 100(ish) at the Single Speed World Championships on a few occasions, plus a top 40 finish at the National Champs. I’m not blowing my trumpet here. I just want to illustrate that I’m like you, a regular passionate cyclist who will never win a race.

That all seems to fit. So, how did you end up doing this for a living?

My world of work used to be in the corporate world of advertising. I even made a few TV ads amongst other things (clicky here). Yes, I’m the guy reading the newspaper and they sent me on a course to find the director in me. After two hours I was questioning what the hell have I done with my life, why the hell I am here? Why don’t I have a surf shop in Costa Rica, a climbing business in the Alps, a bike shop in Dorset? Every decision had been made by money and necessity. I quickly sacked necessity and I now make decisions from the heart.

Charlie and Olive

It took six years of working two jobs through a transitional period: marketing man by day, one-speed specialist via an ebay shop at night. About four years ago I called a meeting with my boss and told him he and the corporation were being laid off. He smiled, I think he liked the idea that I chose to sack them, rather than the other way round. We all knew that I was not a great fit in that environment. I cycled home along the seafront with Alice Cooper’s “Schools out” on the ipod, hysterically laughing in a complete state of euphoria and freedom.

Any recent Custom Builds you care to mention?

It’s a weird mix of work here. I mainly build Surly, Salsa and Jeff Jones bikes, the kind of bikes I really like. Then there is the essential, local bike shop side with punctures and stabilisers etc. The locals are very blasé about bikes with 5 inch tyres “there goes Charlie on another weird bike”, but still don’t understand how a bike can cost £2,000+. I like dealings with the locals, being in a small Dorset coastal town I get paid in money sometimes, but also live lobsters, mackerel, whisky, home brew and imported tobacco. Try paying [insert a famous internet retailer here] with lobsters!

Jeff Jones Steel

It’s far from a massive operation: you get me, Michelle (aka Mrs Bikemonger), Olive the shop Dog, Captain the 40kg basset hound, Dave the Pastry Chef and occasional mechanic…. and that is your lot. Folk will drop by and for Singletrack readers especially, be offered a coffee or stickers. The frequently heard catch phrase is “you don’t get this kind of service buying from the internet”.

Not all pastry chefs are the same. This one included

Tell us something about you that know one knows

I invented the ferociously easy going sport of orienBEERing: checkpints not checkpoints. I also lay claim to the the (UK) Clunker Classic – a downhill race where mountainbikes are banned, just old and/or rubbish bikes allowed. The clunker was conceived so that I could win a race once in my life. Over a decade of clunkers have to come to pass, with my best performance being third place… oh, so close!

Is there a forthcoming event you think our readers should know about?

Bikemonger is organising the UK Single Speed National Championships (SSUKG 2013). Yeah, yeah don’t worry, it will be very basic. It’s tough juggling everything but we can promise that everyone will get beer and bikes aplenty. What more do you need?

Otherwise, now that I have this big hair, no smart clothes and the Bikemongery, we have very quickly outgrown our hectic little shop with the sofa, dogs and fresh coffee. We are soon on the move. It’s also only a stone’s throw from the beach and a few miles from The Square & Compass (the best pub in the world). Thankfully our new location is an old factory about 100 feet away from the old shop site.

What do Singletrack Premier Subscribers get from you guys?

Premier Singletrack members benefit from a free fresh cup of lovely Chris King Coffee if you visit the shop. Valid until I run out and then it might be crappy instant temporarily.

Plus for a limited time (online), Singletrack subscribers can benefit from £10 off the Portland Design Works – PDW Danger Zone Rear Light. These lights are crazy, they are absolutely blinding and what’s more the random setting is to the tune of “Take On Me” by Nordic 80’s pop sensation “A-HA”. Yes really. To get the discount:

This content is exclusive for Premier users.
If you are a Subscriber log in.

Subscriptions start from just £1.49

Find out more!

Tuesday Treats Prize Draw

Charlie has offered up FIVE Portland Design Works – PDW Danger Zone Rear Lights for the prize draw worth a total of £125.00. Drop your name into the digital hat now.

PDW Portland Design Works - Danger Zone Rear Light
PDW – Danger Zone Rear Light

How to enter this week’s Tuesday Treats Prize Draw:

This content is exclusive for Premier users.
If you are a Subscriber log in.

Subscriptions start from just £1.49

Find out more!

We are pleased to announce the lucky winner/s from our previous prize draw:

andywray: wins a specially designed, hands on Maintenance Course for you and your bike. Courtesy of Riders Cycle Centre

Congratulations! Hold tight, we’ll be in touch.

Comments (14)

  1. Great article. I went for a drink with Charlie and my pal Neil after an Earls Court cycle event some years ago. A charming and funny man. They say people buy from people not from the company. Buying from Charlie is and Michelle is a pleasant and easy process although they did demand cash rather than my offer of magic beans. I tell you 5 magic beans is easily enough for a set of Salsa Cromoto’s.

  2. More people like him in the industry please….

  3. Agree with those comments above….very nice chap!!
    Have had a couple of bikes from him over the years…maybe time for another one soon??
    Had a great weekend riding and drinking with him late last year……watch out when he gets you on the 8% cider mind….
    Looking foward to SSUKG 2013.

  4. Interesting read bu the Kent joke is a Peter Cook classic – “I’m from Kent and everyone seemed to know it as they would mutter Kent under their breath every time I passed…”

  5. I’ve met Charlie a few times, and even crashed (and was whisked away by ambulance, God bless the NHS) in his Clunker Classic. Come to think of it, I think I even had a pint or two with him after Earl’s Court one year too.

    Top chap, very glad his business is thriving!

    (PS – Charlie – can I have a discount now?)

  6. “watch out when he gets you on the 8% cider mind….” Fran I am surprised you remember… 25 mile SSUK preview ride, and then two pubs both at 8%, I am surpised anyone got home.

  7. Hi guys thanks for the prize and can I join the Charlie fan club too? Never met him but I enjoy the weekly mails

  8. Didn’t know the shop was there and I ride there occasionally – will pop in and get some stuff now!

  9. Charlie got me on the 8 per cent cider too. There’s a pattern emerging here!

    You could almost go singlespeed on the strength of Charlie alone….but my knees won’t let me.

  10. Nice Bloke, and has helped me out a couple of times when needing something undone…cough cough..

    Reminder…Must drop some cider/coffee off as a thankyou


  11. I cycled from Brighton to his shop in Swanage last year. When I got there it was closed 🙁
    Had a good lick of the window though.

  12. Simons (crashy) is in wareham at cycle experience where he sells cubes and normal things. Rumours of him being under the patio are unfounded… I don’t have a patio.

    Banjo whacked… Yes my opening hours are a bit vague: “from 11” sometime I am still there at midnight, but other days I will get out and ride. I am opening on a sunday night for a customer today. You know this weekend, on a Saturday I had three customers and took less than £40 through the shop. Some days no one comes in. Why hang around at the off chance of making a tenner, when you can ride. But just call or email if you are heading over, and I will be there.

  13. Well… As it happens I may be cycling in Dorset this weekend and Swanage might just be an ideal destination on a circular route. If so, I shall endeavour to pop in (if you’re open – will warn first if likely not).

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