Retail Network Roundup: East Central Cycles
Whether you’re a newcomer, commuter or a seasoned roadie, one thing every cyclist needs is a good LBS, or local bike shop. LCCs Retail Network brings together the best bike shops across London to give our members exclusive access to get great discounts on repairs, parts, accessories and more! With over 120 shops to choose from, our Retail Network Roundup series was started as a way to help you find your favourite LBS and get to know some of the faces behind the workstands.
If you work or live in the Clerkenwell area, our guess is you’ve been down Exmouth Market. Nestled among the boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, you’ll find the friendly chaps of East Central Cycles (ECC). While they’re pretty good at most bike related things, ECC’s specialties range from fixing those complicated and frustrating repairs, wheel building, bike fitting and being generally nice to people. Bike-wise, their main specialist area is touring and adventure cycles. We caught up with Owner and Mechanic Ed Dudley to talk shop, learn more about the importance of a proper bike fit and get the inside scoop on their new Bike Jumble events.
What’s the story behind East Central Cycles (ECC) and how long has the shop been operating for?
The four of us had worked in various shops around London for years until in 2011 we decided we wanted to work for ourselves and see what happened. Three of us lived together in a warehouse at the time and we decided spending even more time with each other was somehow an excellent idea. We opened in February 2012 and we're still here!
What's your best customer story or strangest repair question you’ve gotten in the shop?
We've had some amazing customers in both senses of the word! We've built some very specific customer-designed steeds that were glorious to look at but virtually impossible to ride (still got them working though...). We've built a bike a few bikes for Grayson Perry (very nice man, one of our shop brand bottles made an appearance in one of his paintings). In terms of repair requests, I've been asked to fix kettles, phones (sadly beyond my skill set), electric wheelchairs....the list goes on.
How did you originally get into bikes/cycling?
I grew up cycling, stopped for a few years but started again when I moved to London and kept going from there. Jim, our other mechanic races and has done since he was a wee lad. He currently rides for Imperial Cycling team. He's doing alright by all accounts!
What's your favourite thing about cycling in London?
My favourite thing about cycling in London has been realising how easy it actually is to get around and discovering weird little areas I'd otherwise have totally missed.
You guys offer a fitting service in the shop. What’s involved in the sessions, and why is it important for cyclists to consider getting one?
We offer a few different levels of fitting; a basic commuter fit to sort out saddle position, reach and back angle etc., a standard road bike fit and a more thorough fit that takes into account all of the physiological necessities of riding a bike for extended periods.
A good bike fit is essential if you want to ride a lot and want to be happy doing that. There are so many little things that need to be aligned/measured/accounted for to get the most out of your bike.
What tips would you give to anyone thinking about getting into cycling in London?
If you're thinking of cycling in London I'd urge you to take the bike you're planning on riding to a good mechanic and get them to check it over, I’ve seen sooooo many bikes that were just death-traps and people were planning on riding them 7+ miles a day through the centre of town. Other than that, common sense and if you're lacking in confidence, ask your local council about bike training, it's usually free and the instructors are really good. Oh yeah, if it's dark GET SOME LIGHTS!
How do you feel cycling in London has changed over the last decade?
As cycling has grown obviously, so have the hazards. All I’m going to say about that is 'Take care of each other, we all just want to get where we're going'.
Do you run any workshops or events that cyclists should know about?
We're starting to do a Bike Jumble in our basement with some of our mates' shops which, if it goes well, will hopefully become a regular thing where we can get a bit of a community going on.
The weather is getting pretty grim at the moment for many cyclists in London. Any good advice on how to keep pedalling throughout the winter?
In this frankly appalling weather we've been having all I can recommend to keep cycling is get some waterproofs, layer up and look after your chain and brakes. Stay strong people!
Everyone loves their LBS, but why do people in Clerkenwell love East Central Cycles?
I think generally, from talking to our regular customers, we're good at listening to what people want or need and giving them honest, helpful advice. I've always liked when people in shops treat me like an actual human. We try and do the same.