Back on 2 wheels 😃

Well hello there reader. Today was my first ride out on the bike for….. too long. As a bike shop owner I’m often asked “do you ride much yourself?”. The answer is usually not very often or rarely!! I’ll be honest, the last time was June 2021 and even further back to find regular riding. It’s difficult to find the time in a busy week. Easy to find an excuse not to. Many of you will understand my last statement, As let’s face it, we all have busy lives now. Many other responsibilities, work, family and friends all to fit in to a narrow window of free time.

My son has been an inspiration for me since he was born 11 years ago He’s why I work so hard. For some weeks now he’s been asking me “when are we going out on the bikes dad?”. I had been promising this for a while and then today it finally happened. Neither one of us has done much cycling in a while, so it was always going to be a challenge. As an experienced cyclist i recognise the importance of encouraging the next generation. cycling is a great activity and can be enjoyed by almost anyone. As transport it’s clean and environmentally friendly.

A little more care needed…..

Today was a great day the sun was out and a gentle breeze was blowing. As we set out on our journey, of indeterminant length LOL, we happened upon a group of riders. As they were moving much faster than us, I instructed my son to move in behind my wheel. Also I requested to the lead rider that the group of approximately 6-8 slow down. This was greeted with silence. The Group rode past us, neither thanking us for letting them by or greeting us. I find this rude. Its just how I treat others and it costs nothing to be polite.

Many folks new to cycling have not came up through cycling clubs or riding groups where they would be taught by more experienced cyclists of the unwritten rules of the road. This is even more relevant on bridleways where other users are often present. During the past six years of owning a bike shop, I have been frequently appalled by the attitude of some new, it seams also a minority of experienced cyclists who should know better. At it’s heart cycling as a sport for all. It’s more inclusive I think then a lot of folks realise. This may be an unpopular opinion to some who want it to remain for the minority. The elitists if you like.

So what are these rules, should I follow them or can I ignore them? There are of course many rules. The most important of which is be polite. In County Durham we are very fortunate to have a network of these bridleways and quiet lanes which link together as part of the national cycle network. You’ll see the blue signs with place names and distance at regular intervals. on these bridleways It is possible to ride in safety. I can tell you from experience hurts when a horse kicks you. So do yourself a favour, use your common sense slow down and pass with a wide birth if possible. If not be prepared to stop and let the horses by.

Consett is near Blackhill , Home of Steel Town Cycles.

Running a bike shop in a small town in the north east of England is not so easy. I don’t drive an expensive car. I don’t have lots of foreign holidays, I work. When I rarely take time off It’s to spend time with my family and friends. Why do I continue then, if it’s so difficult to make a living from? The answer is I’m good at it! I’ve raced Mountain bikes, Downhill MTB, Cyclocross and Road. Happily I’m a better mechanic and bike shop owner than I was at racing.

Giving back to the cycling community despite all the hardships and some local hostility, though not from the two other bike shops in my area. Has always been my goal at Steel Town Cycles. We are a small Independent bicycle retailer. We sell new and refurbished bikes, Service and Repair your current machine. Whatever type or brand it is. eBike or standard bike.

Wether you’re a Single parent, a family, experienced cyclist or if racing is your thing. We can and will help you get the most out of your bike. From advice to choose your first bike, next bike or which new components service or repair would work best for you we are here for all.

Entering year 6 at Steel Town Cycles – We sell bikes too!

As many of you will know we are a family owned and run bike shop. Based in Blackhill near Consett, County Durham. 01207258270. We have gained a reputation for quality Service and Repairs on all kinds of cycles from your Kids first bike to a treasured High specification Road bike. We’ve also recently got our qualifications for work on Bosch and Shimano eBike systems. We can of course work on other eBikes not using these systems.

We are more than that; Advice , Custom builds, arts and accessories. Our latest addition, as some may have seen in our Facebook posts New bike sales and some curated Refurbished bikes. Currently most are clients bikes that they wish to sell on.

The Brands we have chosen to Stock are all UK based heritage companies; Dawes, Claud Butler and the fantastic Squish lightweight kids bikes. We currently have a small stock of all. Hybrid, MTB and Gravel bikes come in and see them. We hope to continue growing our offerings but we need your support. Like you’ve amazed us by allowing us to care for your bikes. We can also support you in your new bike purchase. Making sure that you have the correct bike for your intended riding. An MTB isn’t necessarily the best choice for riding the bridleways.

Hybrids have a reputation for being a bit dull, this isn’t the case with many being the perfect all rounder. Now featuring Disc brakes for more sure stopping wider tyres for increased riding comfort, with or without Suspension Fork. They can be used on bridleways tracks and road. With gearing to suit multiple terrain. We have a Claud Butler EXP 2.0 in stock £549, that’s a lot of bike for a small price. It’s not lacking on quality either with a strong but lightweight Aluminium frame, Shimano gears and powerful disc brakes. We also have Dawes Hybrids available to order.

Have a need for Off-road speed! Why not choose one of Claud Butlers awesome range of Gravel Bikes.

A gravel bike is a bike that has many uses. Fast bridle way, Forrest roads or the odd bits of tarmac. It’s a bike capable of it all. Stick some mudguards on it and it will serve you well for light touring or bike packing. Adventures are what these bikes are made for. With the Claud Butler range we are confident that you’ll find a bike to Suit your budget.

We have the Radical in stock in 50 & 54cm sizes ( that’s small and medium) 58cm(L) available to order.

Further information available at http://www.tgc.bike

New dreams….. journey to the future.

Nearly 6 years ago now Steel Town Cycles began in my garage. The concept being to offer a flexible mobile mechanic service. This was to be a baptism by fire. Like many who start a business I was full of passion and drive to make this earn a contribution to the household income. Having left a well paid job in 3-6 months I’d run out of my savings. How naive I was. It would be several years before I could pay myself. An advisor would later say to me 3-5 years before you can pay yourself a salary.

I have asked myself many times in the last 6 months if I made a good decision? Of course it’s not as straightforward as that. As many self employed people will tell you. Following that dream on passion alone will not always have the result you can see in your mind. The jury is still deliberating on that question. Of course without the passion and drive your dream won’t come to fruition.

The planning is the step I impatiently passed over. Many of my self employed colleagues have just grimaced. No business plan…..no business right. It’s so much more complicated than that. I’ve had some, but very little business support. You see that’s the other thing if you don’t have a plan then no bank will give you money to start. I like many used my limited savings with the thought that I would replace it once I’d started to earn. My blogs are usually about my cycling experiences and not really about the journey of Steel Town Cycles.

I am Jonathan. I am Steel Town Cycles, one day it will be my son Alex’s. When a client chooses to work with me, they get more than a corporate trained face of that large chain or bigger shop. I’d like to thank those who have became my clients wether it’s once a year or several times a month. You are all important. You all keep the dream evolving. Some of the best cycle shops I went into as a kid and adult were one shop. Not even a small chain. They were mostly family operated with very few staff if any. I am that one shop. I set up in a town that already had 2 shops because I thought I could do it differently. Not necessarily better, just different.

I started as a service, repair and custom builds shop offering advice and accessories. Again I set up in my new home in a stand-alone garage. Still no business plan. No understanding of budgets, advertising and buying. Flying by the seat of my pants. Many would have thrown in the towel, but the thing is I’m actually very good at this. I don’t want to let go of the dream. What I’ve learned about self employment I’ve largely learned myself through trial and error. As the shop owner and technician I am responsible for everything. From making the tea, sweeping the floor and everything in between.

STC have already had one dalliance into selling bikes. These were excellent kids bikes designed in the UK and well thought out. My son has had 2 and he’s still on his second Squish bike.

Due to restrictions in the space we had Steel Town Cycles relocated to our new home at Unit 4, 25-27 Derwent Street, Blackhill, Consett. DH8 8LR. Once again Steel Town Cycles have new bikes for Sale Uk designed Claud Butler and Dawes Cycles. Custom builds using the Excellent UK brand Kinesis for Gravel and Road bike builds.

I’m trying to offer more as well as the already established Service,Repair and Upgrades. “If you build it they will come” if only this was still the case. The reality is that changing what you are known for takes time, money and effort. Add to that the effect that coronavirus and brexit had on the economy and it wouldn’t be asking a lot to think is this the wrong time. People don’t visit shops like they used to, so how do I encourage them to but bikes for me. That’s the question I need to answer.

Jonathan is a Cytech Level 2 trained cycle technician, Bosch eBike systems trained, Shimano Di2 and Steps eBike systems.

2 Wheels Good 4 Wheels…….. getting more expensive.

Before anyone thinks that I’m going to lay into car use I’m not. Though if there was ever a more opportune time to buy a bike or get your old one out of mothballs it’s now. With fuel prices raising it seems daily, other cost of living rises we are all thinking of using our vehicles less I’m sure. Most of us have jumped into the car to get a few bits at the local shops. Myself included.

We could cycle or walk to the shops, carry a backpack which also cuts down our use of plastic bags. It’s a win win. A Healthier you getting out in the fresh air and making some savings on your vehicle use. Helping you and your family get through this time of rising costs. No one can ignore what’s happening in the Ukraine with Russia’s immoral invasion. It’s sure to have an effect on our standards of living due to all of the sanctions on Russia.

As a part of the local community Steel Town Cycles would like to help you get the most from your cycling. We are happy to advise on the best choice of bike for your needs, New or Refurbished. We are delighted that bikes are once again becoming available as the supply chain slowly recovers. We have also seen improvements in parts availability.

What would encourage you, our customer to call into an independent shop like ours instead of shopping online? Other than the obvious, the internet can’t fix your bike. We often have stock when the online stores don’t. Often stock brands that are unique to independent bicycle retailers. The process in choosing these brands involves many hours of research to ensure we have the best products for you. Independent bike shops give a value of service above the cost in ££. We always deliver above expectations.

New stock comes into us every week. Depending upon how busy we are it’s not always possible to upload these to our website. We rely upon you coming in to see what we have. We’d like you to think of us as the heart of the cycling community. Always happy to have a chat or share our knowledge. As we are getting used to “living with COVID” it’s important to stay healthy. Your local bike shop needs your support to keep on providing for you into the future.

Local bike shop day is coming on April 30th 2022 and we’ll be taking part again. We’d like to see as many of you as possible throughout the day. We’ll have On the Day Only offers, Clearance stock, bundle buy offers and be carrying out Free of charge Safety Checks. We’ll advise on service or repair recommendations. If you book your bike in for service on the day they’ll be discounts for parts supplied and fitted.

2022 is going to be your year for change. A healthier year, small changes can make a difference. Start today. Steel Town Cycles are here to help. Visit us in the shop

2 Wheeled adventures

As the owner of a bike shop I’m lucky to do something that makes a difference for so many. The bicycle a wonderfully simple design classic. The reason it’s not largely changed is because it’s near perfect. Progress has been made in different ways.

When I first discovered the bicycle as a teenager it was the sense of freedom, being able to get to places without having to relay on my parents. My introduction was really accelerated by a teacher who was a keen touring cyclist and organised several school bike rides for the other kids in my school year group. It was my introduction to the bike in where, with a little imagination, it could take you. On that first little tour, we only covered 50 miles in 2 days with a youth hostel overnight.

Since then I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of very nice bikes. I worked hard to get my bikes. The weekends meant freedom. I got into competitive cycling in my 20’s and would describe myself as a clubman. A good rider, but not a leader perhaps more like a team player. Cycle racing is something that appears to be a solo sport from the outside, though it’s surprising how much of a team effort it is. Without his team mates the competitive cyclist is isolated and subject to attack. With talented teammates he/she is part of a greater whole.

We live in challenging times. We are all being squeezed financially. Part of my cycling life has been using my bike as a commuter. Not only are there health benefits but in these days of rising fuel costs the bicycle has its part to play. Most of us commute less than 5 miles, use our car to go to the supermarket for a basket full of shopping. Commuting by bike isn’t going to practical for everyone but I believe that it has its place in our future transport system. Particularly in Towns like ours. The infrastructure needs to be improved, but it’s really just creating links to what’s already there.

Maybe this is the year to make a small change. Become more green or just enjoy a different kind of holiday that doesn’t involve getting on a plane. Enjoy an active holiday and spend some dough in the UK. The hardest thing is to turn the first pedal stroke, once you do you’ll open yourself up to a world of adventures and freedom on your doorstep and then wherever you’re willing to go.