Firstly, how are you doing?
Mentally good. Legs aching like hell after a horrible Zwift session that was probably based on power I should no longer have! Struggling with the constant bad weather and longing for the longer days of summer. But really excited about the shop and the direction it is taking.
Tell us a little bit about Super7Bikes and how the brand started.
Mike and I do not have a cycling industry background, nor have we been professional athletes. We are an Estate Agent and NHS Surgeon! But we are also cycling enthusiasts who have found freedom, fitness, and fun in bikes since our first trainer wheels. From Sunday-ride ‘therapy’, to commuting in nightmare traffic, from racing for village signs to overnighting in the wild. Cycling has formed our friendship.
But our garages have become full. Having laughed and argued over the Velominati ‘Rules’, we recognised that Rule 12 [the correct number of bikes to own is N+1, where N is the number of bikes already owned] was close to causing marital discord [considering S-1, where S is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner]. We needed somewhere to hide! Years of talking and dreaming about what we could or should do with our hobby, the challenges that COVID brought to both of our day jobs, and the realisation that ‘if not now, you never will’ led us to take the plunge and open Super7Bikes. Although there are plenty of bike shops around, we felt that we could fill a gap in the market guided by our long experience of being (sometimes irritated and frustrated) customers.
How long has Super7Bikes been running?
We opened in October 2022, so this is a new venture! Running straight into the winter has been a slightly slow start, but this has given us the time we needed to iron out internet and trade account issues, to advertise the shop and to be fully ready for the Spring rush! Whilst our retail experience is short, we are lucky to have found a great mechanic with many years of experience.
How does Super7Bikes fit into the local cycling scene/community?
Community is so much of what we are about. We want to create a hub for local cyclists where they can find friendly and unpatronising advice in a really comfortable environment.
We have started our shop rides which to date have been a mix of road and gravel loops, depending largely on the weather and road conditions that we have faced this winter. Our website and social media accounts encourage all riders to join our mailing list, in the hope that we can create rides for all. We have started to form links with a local women’s-only riding group for example.
Super7Bikes is on the first floor of the Sober Parrot café. This was an ideal partnership for us, as coffee, cake and great food go so well with cycling. It gives us a wonderful outside, enclosed terrace in the centre of town, where cyclists can happily meet and leave their bikes safely. The café itself is not-for-profit and is run by the Nelson Trust, a charity which works with people who are affected by addiction and those who have experienced multiple disadvantages.
Talk us through an average day at Super7Bikes.
After an obligatory coffee and cake from the café downstairs, the day can start. Key, our mechanic, tends to be busy with various repairs, as we help source parts and chat to shop customers. Mike and I are busy constantly thinking of how we want the shop to develop. Choosing the correct brands to support and stock, thinking about how we want to reach out to riders on social media and developing the shop rides. Mike’s wife, Sarah, is front of house much of the time.
Are there any high-profile riders that are regulars at your store?
We are super proud to have helped kit out Fi Carter (@Sub3_fi), a local duathlete. She took up running and riding only within the last 10 years, in her 40s. Last year she became the World Champion duathlete for her age group! She also became the fastest ever person to complete a marathon dressed as a cheerleader, at last year’s London Marathon! All this whilst helping support a local charity set up to assist young athletes financially with their training and participation in top level sports and be a full-time mum.
Lydia Dant is also a shop friend, who runs a bike fitting service for our customers (www.passionfitting.co.uk). She is a professional triathlete ranked 39th in the World, ranked 21st triathlete in the World for the bike and with first place wins at Ironman Lanzarote and Vichy last year. She started her triathlon journey in 2018 as a total novice with Passion Fit coaching and loves how the decision to give road cycling a go has taken her on such a transformational life adventure to racing on an Elite Licence for MTB XC and long-distance triathlon. This is what she loves to share with others - how bikes can truly change lives.
What made you want to stock Restrap?
Restrap is a brand that just meets all our needs. Quality gear, carefully considered in design, and sustainable. We love that it is UK made, not just because we like to champion UK brands, but because UK brands understand UK weather and riding conditions! When you are bikepacking you need your kit to be durable and you very much need it to keep your kit dry! You know a company is run by those that ‘do’ when they come up with solutions like bumper bars and gear straps in additional to the usual stock that you might expect.
What's the most interesting bike you've seen dropped into the shop?
It is easy to get excited about the most expensive, fully kitted-out bikes that turn up. Cheltenham is a pretty affluent place, so there is no shortage of these bikes. Yet, it was a vintage bike brought in for a simple service that most took our eye. Whilst not the type of bike we sell, we do service all bikes. It was the owner’s absolute attention to detail that resonated with our ethos. We love to send out individual bikes rather than ones straight off the shelf. A fancy bar tape, some coloured valve caps, headset spacers or other bike bling or even a custom paint job. Personally, we want to ride a bike that looks different form anyone else’s, and Jeremy’s Falcon ‘Ernie Clements’ Super Tourer had that in spades!
With the shift in the cycling industry catering towards gravel riding, bikepacking and ultra endurance racing, how do Super7Bikes plan to tap into this new style of riding, which is mainly off-road?
Mike and I have been through most types of bikes. BMXs as kids, then mountain-biking became our main focus for years. But perhaps we recognised our plateaued skill set, and that falling off hurt more as you got older. So, we became roadies. Baggy shorts out, lycra in. Hitting Strava segments, trying to be competitive and focusing on speed and distance rather than where you were actually riding, seemed the most important thing – until we started to get slower and less competitive!
We came to gravel biking about 5 years ago, and whilst we still road ride regularly (and try to stay flowy on our MTB’s), it is a cycling discipline that we have completely embraced. Cheltenham is blessed with the Cotswolds on our doorstep, the Forest of Dean nearby and Wales only a stone’s throw away. We are close to King Alfred’s Way and well connected to places further afield. We have discovered trails and farm tracks in valleys that we never knew existed, despite being so close to the roads that we have been riding on for years. We own many bikes, but it is our gravel bikes that we would not be without.
Our shop is unashamedly focused on gravel and road bikes. The kit we stock is geared to provide our riders with well-chosen brands that we have personally tried and tested. Not all gravel riders want to wear tight-fitting lycra! We stock Vielo, BMC and Basso bikes mainly, each with fantastic gravel options.
Half the challenge for new gravel riders is to know where to ride. So, we have loaded a bunch of .gpx routes on our website for people to freely download, along with a brief description of what they should expect and where to find the coffee stops. We hope to add YouTube links of us riding these to give some real visual heads-up of what newcomers can expect.
What are Super7Bike's plans for the future?
Simply to grow, expand and create a loyal client base that trust us to look after their bikes and want to join us on our rides. We have a cool hang-out area of the shop where folk can sit and drink coffee whilst watching whatever riding we have on the big screen. We want to be a destination stop as much as a shop. A place where riders know they will get quality kit, sound advice and top rate mechanical assistance. A place that they enjoy visiting and riding out from with other like-minded cyclists.
A big thank you to Matt at Super7Cycles.