30 Aug 2011

Delicate with a hammer

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It’s great fun having such good friends in the London cycle business. Now is probably the time to give these people a big-up.

This post has been prompted by meeting Przemek at London Field’s Cycles who has been a genuine legend over the last few weeks. The bike on the right in the picture below would not be the stupendous 1930s success story it so obvious is now we it not for his persistence and delicacy with a unheard of tool, and a hammer.

He’s probably ruing the day he met us however as he is now the go-to man with humpy wheels and unusual bottom bracket projects. He is also appalled by some of our techniques and approaches. We humbly promise to learn from our mistakes.

Just going into the workshop place at this excellent shop is an education for under-resourced mechanics like us. The array of tools is the sort of thing that a certain curious breed of people get very excited about. And Przemek has a tool for everything, including one which tells us by how many millimetres certain of our frames are out of true i.e. bent.

Sometimes you wish there wasn’t a tool for this sort of thing.

Przemek has a imperious attitude which is richly deserved. The man creaks with authority and strolls around his workshop with the air of a man unsurprised by the problems which surround him.

I think the reason he and the other guys in East London help us out is that, at Heavens, we keep that rich tradition of the British amateur alive and kicking.

Yes we use Park Tools, and Johnny is actually a pretty good mechanic. But we also realise that, in some respects, life is too short to own a shop or have a full-time job. A controversial statement.

Thanks also have to go to those handy women at Lock 7. They not only put up with endless attempts (not by us) to burgle that good-looking goldfish bowl on the canal, but also with constant requests that we borrow their tools, get a discount on this, get some advice for a minute on this.

Lee and Catherine have to be the most patient proprietors in London, a cruel but natural consequence of them having such a nice and richly windowed shop on the canal. They attract all the attention Hackney can throw at them, which is considerable. And they are always fielding requests from people who bought their bike on Brick lane for fifty quid and, following the disintegration of this bike apart a short time later, want it fixing up for less than a tenner.

This is also a consequence of their being a little more approachable than your average Halfords jobsworth, and by the fact that they serve good coffee.

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