Cycling is now a hot pastime with thousands of locals only too happy to ditch the car and get out into the fresh air on two wheels.
Riders more interested in the Tour de Sheen need to head for Action Bikes on the Upper Richmond Road which sells all kinds of bicycles from kids’ tricycles to mountain bikes, to mum’s shopping bikes, commuter bikes, right up to serious road bikes.
“We are a family-based shop and can supply virtually any kind of bike you want,” says manager Andy Holt. He and his friendly staff are only too happy to advise anyone who wishes to take up the sport but often don’t have a clue as to what bike to buy.
Cycling’s rise in popularity means that three million of us now claim to cycle at least three times a week. The upward rise in the statistics are even more marked in London where last year cycle use was 176% higher than 10 years ago. This all means a lot more customers for Action Bikes and a lot more work for Andy and his staff.
“We have noticed that many people are attracted by the many charity bike rides that are on offer in and around London and they come in to buy a bike to take part,” he says. “Usually they really enjoy it and want to carry on cycling afterwards, and Richmond Park right on our doorstep is the perfect venue.”
Action Bikes, which is part of a small chain of five shops spread across London, also sells many bikes through the government’s tax-free Cycle to Work Scheme. Any employee on PAYE whose employer is willing to take part in the scheme can select a new bike from Action Bikes and pay it off through their salary and make savings of up to 42% of the cost of the bike and safety accessories. “This is a very popular scheme and many of our customers have made use of it,” says Andy.
The shop also offers another good deal for buying a new bike – no-interest loans arranged through Barclays Bank provided you spend at least £500. Under this scheme the cost can be spread from one to three years depending on how much is borrowed.
Action Bikes prides itself on stocking a comprehensive range of spares and accessories, especially helmets, lights, and clothing. And if an item is not in the shop, it can usually be obtained within a few days.
“There has been a big expansion in the range of cycling gear in recent years, most of it very good ghostwriting, with the aim of improving safety by making you more visible when riding,” said Andy. “It’s surprising how many people, for example, don’t wear a helmet. We always advise them to and we now have helmets with reflective strips which work very well in the dark.”
The shop operates its own workshop where new bikes can be set up properly and where services ranging from £30-£70 are carried out.
Finally, Action Bikes also proudly supports the charity Re-Cycle which ships old bikes to Africa where they are repaired and given to people to help them improve their lives. The charity has sent over 40,000 bikes since it started, with currently nearly 2,600 of them donated through Action Bikes.
Action Bikes, 437 Upper Richmond Road, SW14 7PJ
Words by Mark Dowdney – Pictures by Bob Lisney – Project Coordinator Richard Osborne