Alpine support for your bike, in Brighton
I've got four new Spoon Custom bikes to build this month, or heading to paint. And at the shop I’ve had a busy few weeks, with customers going off to Majorca, the Alps (to ride the Etape) and most recently at least four bikes I’ve looked after at Orange Row Speed Shop took part in Ride London in the terrible weather yesterday.
So, I thought it was time to reflect on what we’ve done at the shop so far.
So far so good is the basic appraisal. It's great having somewhere to build and look after Spoon Custom bikes. And, the Orange Row Speed Shop concept is finding some really lovely customers, and that business is keeping my spanners busy and doing a really good job of supporting the main business.
Most of my Orange Row customers seem to appreciate that they get to talk directly to the guy that’s doing the work, and we’re the only Campagnolo pro-shop for miles, so I’m getting lots of love and I’ve been made to feel really welcome by the other bike shops too. I still outsource most wheel build or suspension tech work (I’ll true a wheel or do lower leg services in house and basic set up but outsource the rest) and people seem to appreciate the honesty and need for the highest standards that sits at the heart of that decision.
The biggest pleasure, is the repeat business. When someone is really happy and they come back or bring me another (usually better) bike. As if the first less-good-bicycle offering was a test. One customer who’s brought four of his bikes in now has just put a deposit down on a new Spoon Customs frame too, so that feels like a complete circle, and was a really special moment.
I’ve got a couple of good regular fixed gear customers too, one of which has just built a really cool Cinelli Tutto, with all parts supplied by us. I advised on the build, and I was at the end of the phone when issues came up. I ordered the wrong size brake for the bar we ordered, so there’s been a couple of small challenges, but working with people like that and seeing my customers grow in confidence with their own understanding has been really fun. I'm treating helping people build their own customs from off the shelf parts, like a gateway drug. I'll get them on a Spoon eventually.
I’ve upgraded some of our kit recently too, notably with two ultrasonic cleaning baths. These are usually used in medical applications where parts need to be really clean, but they’re amazing for restoring factory finish on drivetrain parts. It adds a few processes and doesn’t save work as such, but it does mean that we can provide a really much higher level of finish for high-end bike servicing, and breathe new life into older parts.
The ultrasonic kit has also led me down a bit of a rabbit hole in terms of giving us the ability to deep clean and wax treat chains, for an estimated extra 3-5 watt saving over a normal chain. I’m finishing the formulation and process this week, and we’ll be launching our new waxed chain product sometime this month. It’s an expensive addition to a service, but it’s also another way of underlining my aim to make bikes work flawlessly and go faster. It’s a luxury for race day perhaps, but it’s tangible in terms of the benefits, so I wanted my customers to have access to it.
It’s really obvious to suggest that a well maintained bike is a fast bike, but I want to also be able to add performance gains through the processes and products that we apply to the bike too. I think that ties in nicely with the whole Spoon Customs ethos as well.
The shop is usually busy and it’s getting really cramped most of the time now (!) but I have servicing slots available pretty readily, and where parts are available I always try and get the bike in and out same day.
Thanks to everyone that’s been so supportive, and for everyone who’s brought business my way so far this season, or had a bike go through the shop. It feels like we're getting there!