24 August 2008

Wicked Workshops #6

Another installment to my series on Wicked Workshops (#5, #4, #3, #2, #1).
One of the cool things about travelling around so much, is the fact that there will be many bike shops to visit along the way. Most of them won’t be so cool, just your regular, run of the mill, normal bike store, and generally with no real soul. But then sometimes, you get very surprised as to just what you find, in the most unlikely places. This ‘Wicked Workshop’, would not be 1km from our teams base in Bonn. I must have passed it a dozen times, every time I was always on another mission, without camera, or it was closed. I must have stuck my head in through the bars on the font door, many a time, trying to get a closer glimpse of what was hiding in the display cabinets, and what was hanging around the walls. It looked like more of a storage area for the second-hand dealers next door to it, with bikes piled in, with no real order in the display space. I could spy a few gems around the walls, and some cool looking bikes hidden in a few of the rows of bikes on the floor, so I was hanging out to get inside. But it took a while, but finally I managed to

Such a great name for a bike shop

I had a good idea of exactly what I wanted to see, so I made contact with the stores owner first. You never know sometimes, how they will react when you ask them if it’s ok to take a few photos of their place. I knew he had nothing to hide, and would probably be quite interested in showing me around the place. It was not so big, so it wouldn’t take too long, well that’s what I was thinking anyway. I was not worried making contact, I knew the secret bike mechanics handshake, I would be accepted, and welcomed into his workshop. It worked a treat, within a few moments, we were like old friends, and he was only too happy to show me around the place, giving me a bit of an inside handle on some of the cool bikes he had around the place. He was still working, so I know what it’s like when someone comes in bothering you, he still had a couple hours more to trade, and the store still had a small stream of clients coming through the door. Already I started to like this guy and his shop, each customer coming in to pick their bike up, struggled to get through the shop floor and to the cluttered workshop out the back. Here they were given a good description of the work done, a real ‘hands on’ approach to his work, and it worked well. Everyone was happy when they walked out the door, threading their clunky commuter bikes through the maze, to exit on the street finally. I had to really try to get out of the way, as there was no room for two of us in the one room.

What a classic, three speed, wooden rims, all original, ready to roll.

We started talking, and then it started, like I lit a fuse under his ass, he was starting to warm up, overflowing with that common problem we all have, bike addiction. I was shown some very special bikes he had on display, and this was only a small selection of what he has, he was saying. He has plenty of others at home, and is just waiting to display them. Three, very complete old road bikes were hanging from the walls, all with 3 or 4 speed drive-trains. They all had the same gear shifting system hanging from the chain stays, I had seen it before, but my man gave me a quick description. It was a Swiss design from the 30’s, won the Tour a few times that decade, and was the forerunner to the modern derailer system we all now use. The rims were all wooden, and all the bikes were in working order, even the tyres were pumped ready to roll. Such a nice touch for a display bike, I wanted more. Like most collectors, he looked he specialised in this era (30’s-40’s), as most of the bikes seemed to be all the same era. But he had more to show me, but I was in awe with the few I was already looking at. There was a very early inch pitch, single speed bike, sharing the window with a futuristic looking Hercules 2000 cast frame, this was one of two I could see, both of them mint. There was a few more customers coming in by now, and I kind of felt bad, as they were waiting for their bikes, and the boss was too busy showing me his goodies. But it all worked out, I made the excuse I had to take a photo outside, just so the customer was not waiting too long (that’s my years of retail experience talking there).

The busy workshop out the back, full with good stuff, even the mechanic and a customer is hiding in there somewhere.

The workshop was also pretty special, jammed full of everything you could imagine to repair to restore any number of types of bikes. I thought the shop floor was cluttered, but the workshop was amazing. Think of the classic cartoon wardrobe scene, open the door and all hell breaks loose, well this was close, and it looked just the part. I love the idea of a nice and tidy workspace, but sometimes work just gets in the way of that idea. Sometimes you need a bit of clutter to make it look like you are busy, and this guy looked very busy. I felt right at home hanging out in his workshop, I think I will be back again. I even managed to pick up a very special invention, but more on this later as I think it deserves it’s own story. After an hour or so, I still was finding things that I hadn’t seen before, an old track frame there, a nice mudguard emblem here, and there was still plenty to discover by the looks of it. I left him to it, promising to be back in a week or two. I have a couple of old and new jerseys I will swap with him for his museum. I need to get into having a peek at his home collection, just to see what beauty I can find there as well, and by the sounds of things I won’t be disappointed.

Ohh, this is nice, I would love to add it to my collection, but he might miss it.

You can check out a few more pics over here. And if you want to make contact, here are the details.

No comments: