Tuesday Treats 102: Charlie the Bikemonger

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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 revisiting Charlie The Bikemonger.

This week we’re opening the feature up to a man with more rabbit than Sainsbury’s. Catching up with Dorset’s Charlie is always a pleasure, so strap yourselves in and hear more of the return of Swobo in Europe and the fat bike future coming your way, with extended boingy bits for your riding pleasure …

Fat rolling Salsa Bucksaw. Image courtesy Salsa Cycles
Fat rolling Salsa Bucksaw. Image courtesy Salsa Cycles

What’s changed since we last dropped in, we’re all a year wiser no?

Best forget last year, that’s so last year, you wait ‘til next year. Fat bikes are changing again; just watch this space. You will see them move away from adventure spec into normal MTB spec, with suspension both ends, hydraulics, short stems, freeride geometry.

My Ice Cream truck with 100mm Rockshox will be ready when I get back from Iceland (I’m cycling across Iceland by the way). Then later in the year I will be selling the Salsa Bucksaw full sus fat bike. If you have a Strava KOM on a downhill segment, brace yourself, prepare for humiliation and defeat. Some bearded bike geek on a fat bike will be taking it off you in 2015. Your uphill KOMs are probably safe though mind.

That’s all a bit scary Charlie, you better tell us some more …

Well to start (again), SWOBO ARE BACK! Who? I hear you youngsters say? Swobo were a San Francisco based, die-hard clothing and bike brand. Some people say it was the parties that killed Swobo many years ago. But Swobo are more than just a dreadful bank balance and a hangover. They are an attitude and they are back, big time.

What does “Swobo” mean? Well, no one knows for sure, the legends that came up with the name are long gone. However it’s rumoured in some quarters that it’s a hobo with swagger, a tramp with class, being stylish when things are going wrong.

What about their bikes?

The Mutineer: is a kick butt, 27.5″ wheeled city/dirt bike, it’s a bully, a hustler. It’s just like the old Raleigh Bomber (remember them?) and an absolute hoot when charging around town and trail. Drop down flights of steps, do skids, slide out on berms and look cool in the pub garden. Think big BMX and you are sort of there. I have a bright pink one… the others (except one spare 20” XL pink one) are a cool matte black.

Swobo Mutineer. Image courtesy Swobo USA

The Accomplice: you want to rip up your commute, but don’t want bothersome gears nagging you, and don’t want a flimsy skinny tyred fixie that can’t handle the real world roads. This bike is your accomplice. Room for 45mm tyres, great handling, and capable of getting you into and straight back out of trouble.

Swobo Accomplice. Image courtesy Swobo USA

The merino jerseys and casual clothing is coming soon. There’s a special offer for Singletrack subscribers further down. We will have  t-shirts in stock very shortly … and more bikes coming soon, a 1×10 gravel/scorcher bike, a fat bike, and maybe even a “normal”.

Sounds like you’ve got your work cut out?

I’m very happy to be looking after Swobo in Europe, and am currently looking for like-minded dealers. John Atkins already has stock, go in and check them out.

Swobo is only four guys including me, and we get on so well: conference calls are distracted by chats about Pink Floyd and skateboarding in the 80s. Previously I talked about how we met in a hot tub drinking 30 year old single malt and Murph survived The Square & Compass, (TM best pub in the world) and learned the real reason as to why my shop is on a remote peninsula in Dorset.

What about this new wheel size?

What wheel size?  You’re not meant to know about 29 x 4.0. sshhhh! shut up man, it’s a secret!

What bike/parts in the store do you secretly lust after?

None. Life is too short for lusting after things … just have them instead. I might not have a pension or healthcare, but I do have some bloody nice bikes. I’m 42 years old now, I will still be cycling in ten years, but not like I do now. In 20 years? I really don’t know if I will be able to ride, so there is no way I am compromising on the bikes I ride now and hey, what is 20 years? I reckon we get 30 good riding days a year, what with work, rain, lawn-mowing, kids etc. That means there are only 600 riding days to be had before I am 62!

Murph and Charlie taking a business lunch to discuss Swobo

How do you compete against the big onliners?

“Global local”. We have customers and friends all around the world, no matter where you are you get local bike shop service over email, phone, Facebook etc. We had two local guys stick a mech in the spokes of a Surly Long Haul Trucker in the Pyrenees. I learnt about this on Facebook, so I messaged them and told them to give me 30 minutes. I sent them a downhill route out of the mountains to a bike shop, so they could freewheel to sanctuary. I emailed the shop a shopping list in Spanish, and they were now expecting them. A few hours later they were camped up in the shops rear garden for the night, and the bike was repaired by breakfast time. We all ride bikes here, and we look after each other, no matter where you are. Don’t mention it.

What brand of tea bags do you use?

Chris King Coffee. We tried working on tea, not frantic enough, not enough caffeine. Bike shops that run on tea have too many shaved legs in them.

Lastly, what do Singletrack Premier Subscribers get from you guys?

We are going to run a special Swobo Merino Jerseys offer, from today. We will have both short and long sleeve. They will be here in around one  month, STWers can pre-order them now and get £30 off RRP.

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Our regular Subscriber offer is ‘A free fresh cup of lovely Chris King Coffee if you visit the shop. Valid until I run out, then it might be crappy instant temporarily’. Catch us in cyberspace for chat, on our Facebook page.

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Comments (4)

    “Bike shops that run on tea have too many shaved legs in them”

    That’s your next frame sticker slogan right there. (might require a frame with a long top tube)

    top geezer and top shop

    Charlie is worrying about being 42? pttaah he has many more years on a bike yet!!

    Being 42’s great: it’s like being 22 but with loads more cash!

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