22 Aug 2011

Gazelle Champion Mondial AA-Special, ‘Even as a gay man’

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After a lightening start to the month these past couple of weeks have seen a pincer-movement of dreadful Saturday weather and everybody else being on their summer holidays take a reverse hit on our sales.

There are a few things keeping us bouyant however, and not least this interesting-looking Martelly road bike ridden by no less than Andy Vendromme.

I too have no idea who this man is, but his name is enamelled into the paintjob. This is clearly an ex-pro bike of some sort and is scarily rigid – look at the angle of the headtube, and the fork. And what a paintjob it is! This is going to make somebody very happy, and their house a lot brighter.

For anybody interested in the journey our Gazelle Champ Mondial has taken, have a look at the following:

You might well say that this bike has gone backwards since coming back to Blighty, what with the silly coloured tyres and opposing-coloured bartapes. But rest assured that this is the result of miserlyness rather than fashion. These were the only colours we had knocking around. Honest.

I had to shorten the stem as the bike is a it big for me, or rather put a new one in. And it’s still too big for me across the top as my pedantic friends who work in bike shops keep telling me, tape measures in hand. I don’t really care. I don;t get off on telling people what’s wrong with their bicycle. And neither do i care that the rear wheel is entirely the wrong dish and that consequently i only get a limited range of gears. This is London, not le col du tourmalet. The bike makes me very happy. To have a totally integrated bicycle would not be in keeping with our business image.

‘Even as a gay man’

Johnny is a simple man and likes to give some of our bicycles names. I put this easy naming of inanimate objects down to his attending public school where he didn’t have many friends.

Sometimes however a name just falls into place.

This remarkable and hand-decorated Gazelle omafiets acquired the above moniker when Johnny was showing one of our customers round the Dalston lock-up. Upon seeing the bicycle our customer took his stance and reflected that, Even as a gay man, it would be difficult to ride this bike around much without a certain self-consciousness eventually kicking in. Johnny – and to some extent myself – have taken to riding this bike around quite a lot. There is no greater statement of your being comfortable with your own hetrosexuality. It’s a bit like wearing a single pink glove.

It is also an exceptionally comfortable bicycle. Of course it doesn’t have any brakes other than the ‘coaster at the moment. But then you tend to drift rather than cycle this bike around and i for one have rarely found myself going fast enough to have had to seriously trouble the back-pedal brake.

14 Jul 2011

Latest dutchbike raid

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Another trip out to Holland to pick up the second-hand dutch bike stock and, as Johnny says, we’re getting quite adept at this whole business. Strange then that we never make very much money.

The warehouse we buy from is always a great place to visit, even after the ravages of an eight hour drive and a strange night’s sleep in a tent next to a busy road.

There’s a capitalist comfort to be taken from the process of spending so much money in one go. We generally spend a few thousand euros on bikes in one go – it doesn’t make financial sense to spend any less – and in some respects it’s nice to get rid of all that dirty money.

Our warehouseman gave us the run of the place this time round and we hand-picked thirty five bikes or varying sorts. My favorite of the bunch is the 1930s Simplex, rod brakes, probably intractable. If you saw the Simplex from last time – a wonderful Amsterdam manufacturer long since deceased – then you will perhaps understand my affection.

Johnny doesn’t, he’s too much of a heathen for that. My purchase of a 1920s Gazelle, covered in dust and well hidden away in a back room, was vetoed also.

07 Jun 2011

Raleigh Dyna-tech 605

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Raleigh Dynatech. A picture speaks a thousand words…

Straight out of the cycling mecca which is er Luton, this Raleigh is perhaps not to everybody’s tastes. We used to have a collection of what were affectionately known as tw*t bikes, bikes with yellow wheels and rad paint jobs getting a second chance on the catwalks streets of Hoxton. This bike might fit firmly into that category and is perhaps most reminiscent of a British Knights tracksuit circa 1985. But i love it all the more for that.

It also rides extremely well. The bonded frame, having come this far, is a bit weird to sprint but thoroughly encouraging. It much lighter and more responsive than most steel bikes and feels quite modern. Apart from a crusty bit of paint at the aluminum BB the bike has survived cosmetically too.

The Sachs New Success groupset is beautiful too (especially the crankset).

26 May 2011

Dutch bike heaven

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Thanks a lot to Clare for coming and doing some real photos of the new stock we’ve just shipped in from Holland. And some of the bikes are very photogenic too.

Our guy in Holland is learning what exactly we want from him after a year of trade. And our shopping there is getting more and more enjoyable. It’s always a lucky dip and we never know exactly what we’re going to get. More than this Johann seems to like us and enjoy our quirky tastes.

The Dutch and the Belgies don’t really give a damn about aesthetics and indeed seem to revel in the cranky and the dilapidated. You have to respect this utter lack of ostentation. As a result we can cream off the best looking bikes to cater to the substantially more fashion conscious East London scene. This time around Johann sorted out a lot of rod-brake operated machinery which is just so classic looking.

We also picked out a lot of perhaps more function lightweight things as people are always saying to us, ‘God i need to lug this up three flights of stairs’ etc. Such is the compression of London living. Top of the pile here is the RIH on the Dutch Bikes page.

We’re going to have to put our prices up for the majority of this stock. It does pay to be the cheapest supplier of Dutch bikes and road bikes in the country, but Heavens Cycles is all too prone to bargaining and making people happy. It’s hard to know where to set the pricing exactly, bar checking out the (limited) competition and seeing where we sit. People vary wildly in terms of commenting on our pricing, but the current consensus seems to be ‘cheap’.

Road bikes especially are in high demand and we’ve sold there good things already this week. A RIH and Lemaro for 200 a piece, a very clean Batavus racing bike which had barely made it out of the van before we sold it for 300 to a friend of a friend. Our word of mouth is excellent it seems which is some sort of validation. Sales have been lively in the couple of days since we got back. As Johnny said when we emptied the van of our latest forty bikes, ‘I feel like we’ve created a monster’.

The true art piece from the stock. Johann rolled a couple of road bikes over from his van, brought over from one of his shops. And one was the Gazelle AA Special pictured above. These are really great lightweight road bikes of a good enough quality to have been raced seriously back in the day. This bike, along with a couple of others around in the shed at the moment, really shouldn’t be sold, or at least according to our current turn ’em over/pretentionless pricing.

So we’re going to put them into a section we can only call the Heaven’s Museum, a world where things are still for sale but at real antique prices. Someone tried to sell me one of these Gazelle bikes for €800 in Holland at a show a while back. It’s something to hold onto for sure.

09 May 2011

Bianchi road bike 58cm, Fangio road bike 56cm

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I couldn’t resist buying this Bianchi even though it was more money than i usually like to spend on secondhand road bikes. It was just in such great condition. Fine wheels, a full Veloce group and brake set – even the titanium Flite saddle is a nice touch. It is super stiff and fast. People warn you off modern Bianchi bikes but this is as good a steel bike as we find.

And here’s a slight curio. I’m told that these were sold through a bike shop in Oudenaarde and are a very good quality. The slight forced bend to the down tube is beautiful; also the full 105 groupset (7-speed indexed) indicates this. Nice paint job too!

09 May 2011

Eddy Merckx road bike

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Here’s the first of the latest crop of road bikes from our friends in Belgium. I’m still finding out a bit more about this bike – it was ridden by a Belgian professional and is of a very high quality, hence the SLX and Record/Delta brakes. More info to follow as i find out…

17 Apr 2011

More second hand racing bikes

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Sadly this Guerciotti is now sold. Fluted tubing, Campagnolo 8-speed shift… Boy someone got a bargain. Just imagine what this would cost in Brick Lane Bikes..

Fluted tubing… The Concorde below however is still available at £380. The Campag Record/Super Record groupset is a nice touch..

17 Apr 2011

New stock – secondhand Guerciotti road bikes, Concorde road bikes

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Check out some of our latest secondhand road bikes below. Most are ready to go but some need a bit of work. Get in touch for more info. Also the are more bikes coming soon.

57cm Concorde, needs a bit of work but is amazing.

56cm Concorde road bike. This one’s in amazing condition and ready to go.

06 Apr 2011

Vintage Colnago road bike at heavens

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Not much of a selling strategy to say this must be the tattiest Colnago in London.

But it rides like a Colnago. Hell it even looks like a Colnago if you get close enough. It’s what they used to call a rat bike i.e. it goes better than it looks. Personally i like the un-branding and the filed lugs and stamped fork crowns which give it away.

This bike has had a new chain, freewheel and had a pretty radical scrub down. It rides great.

Also for sale here at Heavens Cycles this week is the fantastically-named Overdevest road bike.

And a classic Batavus dutch bike, one of many we have in stock at the moment.

28 Mar 2011

More vintage road bikes in London

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If you are thinking of buying a secondhand bike in London, now is the time to get to Heavens.

Amongst our new stock of thirty vintage road and Dutch town bikes is the following. We’ve had these Batavus Professionals before now. They are stiff and light with these unique paint-jobs. This one is actually more subtle than the last one we had in (‘though the tri-bars currently fitted aren’t that subtle admittedly).

This bike has a full Campagnolo group and brakeset, Wolber clinchers on Campag hubs. It’s a bargain at £335 and can be seen this week in the window of Look Mum No Hands on Old Street.