Classic racing fiets given a second chance through Heaven’s Cycles.
Or Bride of Frankenstein, you decide.
Heaven’s has gone under, or you’d have been forgiven for thinking this, if you’d judged us by the recent lack of activity on this blog.
Or if you’d have judged us by the lack of activity on the market stall during the already legendary (and hopefully recently removed) brutal winter of 2012-2013.
Here’s one of Johnny coping in his dirty trousers, drinking wine in the back of our trailer.
But times change and the sun peeks through the rain, and we have been to Belgium to collect a new load of road bikes. Road bikes are all people seem to want to buy during very bad weather, which seems to sort the men from the boys, so to speak.
Of course you can’t risk using sexist idiom in cycling writing anymore, after the Peter Sagan controversy.
What a wally.
Our new selection of road bikes will however appeal to a broad spectrum of the London cycling community. There is a wild variety here.
(You should click on the pictures for a better view of the bikes.)
Firstly and for the more serious commuter, or alternatively somebody who wants to get their hands on some bargain speed, there is the imposingly named Eddy Merckx Alu Mega. Which when we have given it a new drive train and bar tape will be a very impressive machine indeed, at around £500.
Similarly, though more
offensively impressively coloured – clearly it is mating season in Belgium at this time of year – is this second, immaculate Merckx. This one has a full Campagnolo groupset and will also be around £500.
These bikes are a bit of a departure for us in so far as they are aluminium and a bit more modern. So to return to our stock in trade, this classic U Scanini. A real cracker in mint condition, Columbus Aelle, 80s tracksuit paintjob – what more could you want?
Here’s one maybe for Peter Sagan, or somebody else who is extremely confident in their sexuality – Dean, are you reading this? Giacommelli sounds exotic but they are infact as Belgian as waffles. As soon as John has rebuilt the wheels and gotten rid of the tubs this will make a budding Peter very happy.
Here’s the Ludo, which is the hidden gem from in amongst the bunch. It’s a beautiful short wheelbase frame with a mongrel mix of parts, all of which are flash. A Campag triple on the front and practically unridden Open Pros would make this a super-solid commuter or botched tourer. Either way it will be a good buy at £350.
And finally for now, and I have distiorted the picture to give you the full effect, this rather sad-looking Gazelle Champion Mondial, with things falling off it. Or rather it was sad looking. It has recently morphed into a hipster machine par excellence, with white tyres and a Turbo saddle. Also new Campag.Mavic wheels to soften the blow. Operating more as a limousine than a thoroughbred racing machine, it’s nevertheless fast and extremely nice to ride, being very direct like all Champ M’s.
Anyway, I must get back to contemplating the demise of Mrs Thatcher. Roll on spring!
Scroll down the blog a few posts and you’ll find an image of a fairly tatty-looking Concorde with obscene red and white Richard Virenque saddle, peeling tubs and 130mm titanium stem. I hesitated when buying this bicycle because it looked like this; also I had been sleeping drunk in a trailer and wasn’t really in the right frame of mind to be buying anything other than coffee or more beer.
However under J’s tutelage I bought the bike as a replacement for a stolen Gazelle Champion Mondial AA-Special – also featured tattily on the blog somewhere. This was the most astonishing road bike Heavens had yet acquired.
God I miss that bike.
The Gazelle was light and fast and the frame was beautifully made. The standard of finishing on this bike spoke volumes about the pride the Dutch apply to their very best road bikes.
But when compared to the Concorde the Gazelle felt very two dimensional. You should be warned that this discussion of framesets is about to become
I pull back from the brink. Describing the performance of a frame is a bit like describing wine, or music. Really these are things which should be left to speak for themselves.
And so you just ride the bike. I will limit myself to saying that Columbus Genius is a truly modern frameset and as such the Concorde Squadra is dynamic, fluent – and obscenely quick.
Buy one if you can find one.
Actually, this bike which we try not to sell even though it doesn’t fit anybody associated with the business is just as good as the Concorde. It hangs up in the shed looking pretty.
Are you 5’7? Will you offer us the right amount of money?
In a speech to the CBI today David Cameron invoked the spirit of the 1940s, declaring that British businesses needed to adopt that wartime, buccaneering attitude to succeed in the global race for capital.
And it is very much in this spirit that the Heavens’ blog has gone untended for so very many months. Which is by way of an apology and a confession, and an introduction to a current list of bikes, many of which we have unfortunately sold already. It feels a bit weird to say, Oh these are the bikes you could have bought from us if you;d been quick enough. but as always the blog functions as much as a historical document, showing you the sort of things we sell.
First up is this magnificent Himpe which we had hardly dragged out of the trailer before it was bought for £475. This is about the most expensive bike we have sold through Heavens, but in looking at the photo you might well think that it is worth it, especially considering what you can get in the shops for this kind of money:
Admittedly the picture suggests that John took this bike out for a picnic, but I am assured that this was not the case.
Back to the more familiar territory of our lock up and a photo below which proves that we do sometimes get smaller road bikes. This 49cm beauty sold very quickly. We haven’t really been able to get out hands on enough road bikes – their popularity in London seems to be forever on the rise.
I’m sure that Simon P won’t mind me sharing his email, but more importantly his pictures here on the blog.
Just to give you a bit of background, Simon is a vintage cycle enthusiast who bought a lot of the items we found in this cache here:
More than just being a antiquarian, Simon is really a historian of English cycling heritage. There’s also a part of me which gets incredibly nostalgic for the localised production and smaller-scale values of the past, and part of me which enjoys the simple aesthetic beauty of bikes from the forties and fifties especially. So I understand the sentiment behind his restoration projects.
So good on you Simon. The bike looks really superb.
‘Hello Ben, I thought you might be interested to see how the Apollo turned out.
I trust the old bike business is booming.’
A quick update then on our new stock, specifically looking at road bikes. We didn’t manage to get as many as usual, but then it’s proving more difficult to get secondhand bikes generally, as the recession bites in Holland and Belgium. That statement might sound specious, but it’s true. People are holding onto their old bikes longer because they no longer have the capital to change them as often as they wish, which in Holland is every few years, much as people in boom times would get a new plate car over here. It wasn’t strictly necessary but it helped them say something about their wealth and their status as consumers.
I digress. Here are some pictures of the road bikes, ending with the best one.
This is a Concorde with C-Record – very nice. Let’s hope Johnny gets around to fixing it one day. It will be £450.
And can you spot the carbon fibre Specialized lurking in the background here? It’s had a few interesting modifications but is startling fast. Get in touch for further details, but £250.
And the icing on the cake?
Here’s a happy photo of Johnny filling up the truck with chip fat after it stopped working on the motorway outside of Genk.
Those gloomy clouds are coming directly out of his brain.
We’re wise enough to carry a few spare parts for the engine around with us these days, but it was still a disconcerting few minutes, fumbling around under the bonnet as the traffic roared by, unsure as to whether our car (and our cargo) would ever make it back to Britain.
Rivetting stuff. But only to say that it was a problem with the fuel filter, a blockage as a consequence of us using such novel fuel types. Which does rather beg the question:
Did this happen because a chip got stuck somewhere in the engine?
It’s perhaps worth saying something of the latter part of our most recent trip to Benelux, even though regular readers of this blog will probably remark, ‘Well, there’s nothing new in these slightly morbid travelling tales.’
But then this is the bike business I would counter, where nothing really ever changes.
I was, fortuitously enough, ill off work on the Friday and so able to join Johnny in Flanders for our twice annual trip to the bike markets of that area. I say fortuitously but then I also had to take Eurolines from Victoria coach station which is always a humbling experience. We were doing quite well and the sort of creeping frustration which sets in on any long bus journey was being kept well at bay until a detour took us out to France and a couple of laps around an industrial estate, where we picked up a cabal of Czech driver’s hands, all fat necks and ill-fitting shirts, who to be fair enough seemed like perfectly nice guys, but whose entrance delayed my arrival in Flanders and caused the inevitable Eurolines neurosis to finally begin to set in.
On arriving in Flanders I discovered that John, who had had a day alone in the city and plenty of time to coordinate a meeting, was in fact waiting at a different station in a different part of the city. After a mouthful of curses he soon emerged and, following a brief scuffle induced no doubt by the Eurolines frame of mind, we were reconciled in one of our favorite bars where several strong Belgian lagers led seamlessly on to a cheap kebab and a satisfied coma, in a tent well-pitched by the side of a motorway.
Imagine if you can the cycle ride back from the heart of the city to the campsite, which proved to be a decent distance from the centre. The city in question is all lakes and parks and tramlines, and our late-night tour of the city was pleasant and not a little dangerous; and even though John had chosen old Dutch ladies bikes and they weren’t particularly fast per se, they were certainly moving pretty fast at this point, and bits fell off.
And on our return finally to the campsite we were joined, suddenly but definitively, by our neighbour, who was a permanent resident of the site. I suppose then that makes it a trailer park. And even though I had been briefed about his madness I was unprepared for the stream of consciousness ramblings of a supposedly recovering drug addict, whose machine-gun delivery in impeccable Dutch-flavoured English described subjects as diverse as novel methods by which one can deliver amphetamine to the real potentiality of my being a murderer, to the political crisis in Belgium.
Oh dear. It has been a long winter.
At long last Heavens’ has a new stock of bicycles, though of course with Heavens ‘new’ is a very relative term . As always the bikes have come from Holland and Belgium but this time from a bunch of new sources, as Johnny explores the hinterland of secondhand bike buying on the continent in winter.
Europe-wide austerity measures have seen Heavens embrace the joys of the Belgian lay-by overnight, truly not a place for the feint-hearted. And of reheating spaghetti bolognese in the back of a leaky trailer.
Our man Johann, who usually supplies most of our glorious stock, is very much a fair weather salesman. He is the ultimate purveyor of excellent Dutch bikes but tends to head off to Egypt this time of year to spend your hard-earned cash.
Whether he is there this year remains to be seen.
But either way we have had to look elsewhere for bikes until the Spring at least, and as such Johnny has had quite a road trip.
Our research methods must unfortunately remain a mystery to you. However I can reveal that destinations have included Groeningen, Amsterdam and Nijmegen; and that he was nearly arrested in the last here, as the police were rightly alerted to the sight of a tired and haggard man stuffing yet another old bike into the back of a Japanese-registered utility vehicle.
We bought a Toyota Hilux Surf 2.4TD in late summer. This car has been a constant source of both amusement and horror. Purchased for £1000 it looks like quite a vehicle for the money, and it is. It’s been on jollys to the Lake District and the Peak and now Holland; and it is slow but intimidating, much like Johnny himself.
And John in particular has employed a typical Heaven’s spirit in making the damn thing work long-term. It emerges that these engines are remarkably tractable if you own little more that an advanced bicycle tool-kit, doggedness and a whole lot of patience. And are willing to work on the engine Christmas day, with your dad.
And the engine runs on reconditioned chip fat! Or at least a combination or chip-fat and diesel. This is perhaps the greatest revelation about our car.
As to the bikes, pictures will follow. But there is the typical crop of Gazelle, Batavus and Locomotief. Even the dreaded Peugeot (unsmiley face).
A long absence from Heavens then, weathering the cruelties of winter.
Nevertheless we have been trading as a few people sniff us out via the web; Johnny has also been stood in the freezing cold, flogging a few bits from the back of our shed.
This is our market at this time of year. And there will be more photos going up from our seasonal ‘banger sale’.
As always we also have some cracking road bikes sitting around, waiting for the Spring when people start to think about cycling again.
There is a carbon-fibre Cadex which will be cheap and nippy; also Diamant, Gazelle, Cannondale, Chesini, Concorde.
A big shout out to Fiona btw who crashed her bike and has just got through a brain scan and internal bleeding!
Also there are the aforementioned bangers, which all work and which are subject to our two month warrant; from Jan Janssen, Daimant again and Gazelle etc etc.