At The Hackney Peddler we are lucky. We have a vast stock of classic steel bikes and vintage components, it's an Aladdin's cave of treasures, appealing for even the most modest of enthusiast. But it is the people that make us who we are. We are lucky to have a really diverse, talented, and interesting customer base. Every bike that leaves our shop is as unique as the person wheeling it out the door. We aim to provide people with a bike that is reliable, enjoyable and durable. A bike that will last you many years to come, using quality handmade classic steel frames as a foundation and providing lasting aftercare - you are far from just a (frame)number.
I've been tracking some of our customers down to get their story, and to see how both the bike and rider are faring.
Ankita is a physicist working as an editor for the scientific journal Nature Reviews Physics, she is passionate, but unfortunately, my knowledge of quasi-particles is seriously lacking and our science chat stops no sooner than it has begun! She's happy to meet me near where she lives in Stoke Newington, an area she loves and it's great to get out of the workshop for a breath of fresh air and to meet Ankita.
Ankita's Gitane is a good example of some of the 80s 'mixte' bikes that we build at The Hackney Peddler. It's a mix of new and used components but, as with all of our bikes, any parts that are subject to wear are replaced. In every case our bikes are fitted with new chains, brake pads, cables, and freewheel/cassette.
In a lot of cases these bikes where originally specced with steel-rimmed wheels. These are no longer in production, and for good reason, as they are heavy, a pain to service, and do not perform well, especially in wet conditions. We replace these in every instance with new modern alloy wheels that are lighter and safer!
Ankita bought her Gitane from us in December 2019, She says "I actually remember it really well because it was my birthday, so yeah, December 1st 2019! I’ve been working from home since the first lockdown started, but I originally bought it for commuting." She bought her Gitane for her commute from Stokey to King's Cross but now feels lucky that she got it when she did as it has given her a new found freedom of the city.
"I was so grateful that I had a bike that I felt confident riding, because as soon as COVID happened everyone was avoiding public transport! I'm so glad I wasn't trapped within a mile radius of home. I went out on loads of really nice bike rides in April 2020, when the weather was fine and it was peak lockdown. It was really good to be able to get out and about."
I was hoping to avoid too much COVID chat and wanted to talk more about her experiences with the bike, but I soon realised that the two were intertwined. Ankita's situation echoes that of so many of us over the last year. A worrying year spent inside, cooped up and surrounded by fitness paraphernalia, bought with the best intentions, but never used. The bicycle
has represented a newly discovered freedom for most. A way to get the blood flowing, blow away a few cobwebs and get some exercise.
"We did a lot of bike rides into the City actually, it was such a crazy experience seeing it completely empty. Like when we went to the Millennium Bridge and there was no-one there! It was really nice to be able to cycle to all these places that are normally really packed and unpleasant, and pretty grim to ride to. But in lockdown it was great!"
Ankita is understandably grateful for the freedom her THP build has afforded her, but she was also happy with the process; “I enjoyed being able to choose all the different bits, for example, I knew I didn't want the drop handlebars that it came with. I got all the things I've always wanted on a bike, including a kickstand as I'd never had a bike with a kickstand before! Which sounds silly, but it’s so useful.’’
Her bike is lightweight, pleasurable to ride, and is exactly what she wanted; “Yeah, I'm really happy with it. It’s much lighter than the bike I had before, which was really heavy. When I moved to London I needed a new one and, as I guess you don't wanna leave your bike outside, I had to carry it upstairs and into my flat, and that got a bit much, so I bought this much lighter bike.”
When we build bikes
we make sure that it meets all of your requirements. We use 80s steel frames as the foundation of our builds because, quite simply, we trust them. Built during a manufacturing heyday, often by hand by one craftsman from start to finish, they provide a strong, durable and lightweight foundation for your dream machine.
Ankita's happy with hers, and I imagine I'll see her and her Gitane out on the road this spring and summer!