Before 'Boris Bikes' became a familiar sight on London's streets, Wojtek Popiel had his own bike hire business. But after the Barclays branded docking stations started springing up all over town, Wojtek quickly realised that the competition was overwhelming. He had also grown tired of spending 10 hours a day in his van, delivering and picking up cycles from customers. What he needed was to open a shop and start selling the Dutch brand, Gazelle, that he was previously hiring. Ironically he chose a site at the top of one of South London's steepest inclines. You may remember the premises had previously been the demurely named, Pillow Talk.
He couldn't have timed it better, with the huge resurgence in cycling. This can be put down to several factors, from the success of our olympic cyclists, to concern for the environment, but as I've discovered, it's mainly to do with the pure joy of whizzing around on 2 wheels.
In addition to selling both adult's and children's bikes, the shop has an enthusiastic mechanic, Damian on hand to keep all types of bike running smoothly (not just Dutch ones!), and there are plans to expand into the space upstairs, when they will start selling another brand, Koga.
Originally from Gliwice in southern Poland, Wojtek has lived in London for 8 years, including stints in everywhere from Clapham to Willesden. However, he is now firmly rooted in West Norwood with a young family. Despite an obvious passion for 2 wheels, the demands of business and family mean that he very rarely gets in the saddle himself these days. One exception being the London to Brighton bike ride, which next year he is planning to do with a handful of customers.
No.1 Westow Street
Tel: 020 3441 5298