The time came to buy Mrs Bugle a bicycle. The Bugle knows very little about bikes, but enjoys cycling his from time to time on the heath, and agreed that it would make a perfect birthday present, so we went scouring the nearby neighbourhood for a suitable bike. Neither of us are going to be ascending Everest by bike, we just needed something for occasional use on sunny days.
First of all, we went to Halfords in Charlton. Don’t. I don’t know where to begin on this one. When we eventually managed to find someone to speak to, he proceeded to kick and bash the bicycles around so much, it felt like we should be phoning the RSPCA (RSPB maybe…) Eventually he managed to drag one kicking and screaming from the rack, and showed it to us. I noticed that one of the pedals was mounted back to front, making it impossible to actually ride the bike. When I asked about this, he explained that “we weren’t allowed to ride the bike in the shop, as people might steal them”. Great. All the bikes at reasonable prices used plasticky rotary gear changer thingies (that switch gears by twisting the handlebars, a bit like revving a motor-bike). They looked really nasty, like they would fall to pieces in no time. Also, he explained, we couldn’t actually buy a bike there and then, as they had to be built (the bikes you see on the racks aren’t actually the bikes you buy, which is probably a good thing). This process would take about a week…
So we said thanks, and wondered where on earth we could find a bike. Then we found The Bike Shop in Lewisham. I say Lewisham, but really it is only about 10 minutes walk from Blackheath Village, straight down Lee Park road, and turn right at the end.
It was like chalk and cheese. The first time I went in there on my own, and a very helpful girl showed me the women’s bikes, which all cost slightly more than the Halfords bikes (£200 for a starting price compared with £170), but they looked like much much better bikes – better built, with proper “clicky” gears (can you tell I’m no bike expert?), and more importantly, you could try the bikes out on a little road next to the shop, and take away the bike you tested!
So I took away a couple of brochures, and a few weeks later we went back together, and Mrs Bugle is now the proud owner of a pastel blue Ridgeback Motion bike. We can take it back in 6-8 weeks time for a free service, but it doesn’t look like it will need one… As the guy in the shop said:
“One less car”.
The Bike Shop, 288-290 Lee High Road, Lewisham, London, SE13 5PJ.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 9am-5.30pm. Saturday 9am-5pm.
Phone: 020 8852 6680
Google Map here.