Tuesday Treats 99: Soho Bikes

Your once a week dose of retail therapy 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’re introducing: Soho Bikes

After the sunburn and stonking speed of Le Tour de Yorkshire, we are in serious need of some new, fat wheeled bike inspiration. Following our heads-up on Soho Bikes launch a few weeks back, we’re off to London in person to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s a bit more detail from Nick, Tom and Rob …

Soho frontage

It’s been a crazy busy first few weeks (already!) Nick …

Totally! Yeah it has been crazy busy, the response from customers has been fantastic. Slightly surreal at times for all of us; the mix between coffee shop and bike shop, and between generalist bike shop and mountain bike specialist means you have this great melting pot of people and interests. One minute you are serving a flat white, the next fixing a puncture on a commuter bike or changing the travel on a set of Pikes. We are loving it! We’ve already had some amazing bikes through and out the doors, including one of twenty five, very limited Santa Cruz V10C (and one of only two in the UK).

Being in Soho you must have some eccentric types drop in…

Yes and no. Like I said it is a bit of a melting pot and I guess anything goes, there is no such thing as eccentric here! What has surprised us is just how many customers from abroad have come in. We’ve had mountain bikers from Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, Indonesia, and the USA in London on holiday dropping by to say hi (and pick up a Soho Bikes t-shirt of course).

So the launch party, any good gossip?

What a great turnout, I think we had close to 400 people through the doors. Bizarrely some of them had come especially to see Rob – who would have thought it? Really grateful to everyone who came down, thank you! Not sure about gossip though, we are all grown up and very well behaved these days. See the pictures for yourself on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Launch party, photo courtesy Martin Zielinski/MZED

Tell us more about developments on the mountain bike side…

We are receiving new stock to fill the shelves every day. On top of all the Troy Lee and Five Ten kit, we now have a broader range of helmets and shoes from Giro, and more shiny new parts from Hope and Renthal, plus a great selection of pads from Bliss. We have also been building up our fleet of Santa Cruz demo bikes. We have a Bronson, 5010 and Tallboy LT available to test ride, all kitted out with matching Hope wheelsets, Schwalbe tyres, XT brakes and Renthal finishing kit. We’ve tried to keep the builds as similar as possible to make it easier to compare the bikes, and only changed selected components. For example the Bronson has a set of BOS 160mm Deville TRC forks and a 150mm KS Lev DX post fitted while the 5010 and Tallboy LT have Rock Shox Pikes and Reverbs. The 5010 is also running a SRAM X01 1×11 set up.

So demo rides around Hyde Park is it?

Ha ha, yes that’s exactly how it works! What we are offering for demos are two options: You can either go for the more traditional option of coming down to the store and taking a bike away for the day. Or alternatively we are receiving a lot of interest in our bespoke ‘group test’ demo service. This is where we bring two or three demo bikes to your local riding spot and let you ride the bikes back-to-back on the same day, on the same trails in the same conditions. We set the bikes up to your weight and riding style, and as each bike has a very similar high end build it allows you as the rider to isolate and identify how the key variables (frame / fork) affect ride and performance. We think this is the closest you can get to a proper objective test ride across a number of bikes… short of getting a job working for Singletrack, of course!

I’m not so sure about that… So who is this aimed at?

Customers that want to directly compare 27.5 and 29er wheels, and different travel options. What we are offering is the most effective way to do this. It’s also a really enjoyable part of the whole experience of buying a bike from us and gets the bikes out of the showroom and onto the trails where they belong!

Retracing some steps, what on earth possessed you guys to open a bike shop anyway?

To do something new and original, and people said couldn’t be done… To share our passion for bikes and caffeine, and to have fun of course!

What product line would you hate to lose from the shop?

Our Soho Bikes t-shirts – can’t get enough of those printed at the moment!

Matt Rob Nick

Matt Rob and Nick. Two out of three hard at work. Photo Martin Zielinski/MZED

How do you compete against the big onliners?

I don’t think it’s a case of competing head on, it’s about playing to your strengths. We don’t have a massive warehouse so we will never have the same broad selection of products. But we do have face-to-face relationships with hundreds of customers and the ability to let them touch, feel and ride (yes, had to get some Soho innuendo in here somewhere) the very best products, all supported by expert honest advice. And price wise on a lot of kit we are very similar, even cheaper on some items. Plus we sell coffee. Oh, and hold the press, just live today is our posh new webshop

SohoBikesTshirt

What brand of tea bags do you use?

Tea? Ha – didn’t I mention we do coffee? We are getting some Steve Peat tea in soon I hope!

So, I buy a bike and all the gear, how else can you help me?

Of course we offer full support for any bikes or kit purchased from us. If you have any mechanical issues from suspension to disc brakes to dropper posts, we are on hand to get you up and running again. We are also setting up a regular series of club rides, particularly aimed at helping riders who are new to London getting out of town and onto the great trails that surround the capital. We also have an affiliation with Pro Ride Guides, who offer the very best mountain bike skills training and coaching across the south east, and further afield too. If you want to ride smoother, faster and with more confidence, Pro Ride Guides have got you covered. On top of all that we can help keep you motivated with our regular screenings of cycling events and races, some of which have quite exceptional commentary. And we sell coffee… did I mention that?

Lastly, remind us. What do Singletrack Premier Subscribers get from you guys?

There is a flat 10% discount for Singletrack Premier Subscribers across the store. Plus because it’s the time of year when our customers are heading out to the Alps and we want them to come back safe, we are offering an additional 10% off all protection products (pads, gloves, helmets… no Soho jokes thanks) for the remainder of July 2014. Which we think is a rather good deal.

Remember to check out our website, Facebook and Twitter pages for all the latest info on store events and promotions!

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