As I mentioned in a previous piece about changing bike shop culture, I’ve got the pleasure of having shiny new Maison Du Velo cycle shop and cafe only a few miles from my home.
This weekend, my new favourite bike shop decided to hold an open day with offers and demo’s, so I hop-skipped my way to the store for a look around.
Inside I found marginal gains on my doorstep, new and fast improving riders, bikes for sprogs, and plenty of pastries.
Apex Bike Performance
Maison Du Velo are offering a fit service from Apex Bike Performance. Apex are a two year old company who offer a cycle fit service to help you adjust your bike to work with you, and they also provide exercises to strengthen your weaknesses and teach you to pedal more efficiently.
Charlie, who works for Apex and had come down to demonstrate the kit, told me: “The key difference between our fit, and others on the market, is that we do the bike fit on our automatically adjustable bike, whilst the rider is pedalling.
“Where usually you may have to stop, get off, and have the bike adjusted, we can keep the rider pedalling and monitor changes in heart rate and power – giving us the opportunity to help riders find the most efficient position where they produce the most power with the lowest heart rate.”
The Apex Functional Movement Assessment (AFMA)
Before getting on the fully adjustable bike, Charlie explained the session starts with an analysis of your flexibility, muscle activation and biomechanics. These are assed by six movements which highlight your strengths and weaknesses – from that the fitter can build up an idea of how you will react to adjustments.
Charlie demonstrated a quick exercise that shows me I tend to use my quads and not my glutes – and explained with an Apex fit, I’d have my bike position adjusted to cater for this, then, I’d be given strengthening exercises to carry out for three months before returning for a second fit.
The Apex Bike
Following the movement assessment, you’d hop on the bike which is gradually adjusted in increments 2mm, 5mm and 10mm to find the perfect fit whilst analysing power, heart rate, cadence, 360 degree torque force analysis and torque force direction (fancy!).
The measurements are accurate to 0.1mm – so you can guarantee you’ve got the right number (good luck being equally accurate with the tape measure on your own bike).
Left and right power are measured independently, so Apex fitters will be able to help cater for inbalances and suggest ways of evening them out. Oh – and the resistance unit can handle 3000watts, so I reckon most riders out there will be ok with that.
All adjustments made on the Apex bike are measured and applied to your own bike, as Charlie explained: “It’s about making your existing bike right for you, not selling you a new one.”
Maison du Velo offer traditional bike fitting with a turbo trainer for £60 or £120, and the Apex fit is also available at the store for £195 or £250. I might give it a go, so watch this space..
Apex are also developing wind tunnels and the virtual trainer, their own take on the turbo trainer, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Also on hand to chat product was Darren, who is involved with Frog Bikes. ‘Frog’ are creating bikes for sprogs which are light enough for them to enjoy riding, and are designed to fit them perfectly so they can cycle in comfort. Like Apex, Frog know that a bike that fits will be a pleasure to ride.
Darren explained: “Loads of manufacturers just make small versions of adult bikes, with less than great components. Parents often spend thousands on their own bikes, and very little on their kids’ bikes – and cheap, heavy bikes aren’t fun to ride. We only sell through independents, and the bikes are selling really well, they’ve been incredibly popular.”
Frog have been in contact with Shimano about creating a perfect kids custom groupset – so watch this space!
Whilst at Maison Du Velo I dispensed myself a coffee and debated eating a pastry (decided against it, which I regret now) and had a chat with co-owner Dan, who set up the shop with the owner of Rehill’s C&N Damian.
Dan also owns a landscape shop in Reigate (hence all the cool wooden interior accessories) , he told me: “I used to race at a national level, and at the time you had to have the right kit to even walk into a shop, we don’t want that – we’re all about breaking down those barriers. We’ve had little kids bikes locked up outside as their parents have come in for coffee.”
That comment was proven as I had the chance to chat to a little boy playing with a toy car and slurping hot chocolate whilst dad browsed the hardware blissfully.
“So far, it’s been fantastic, we’ve only got four bikes from the original stock we started with. We sell bikes starting at £850, to cater for the ride to work market – we’re about quality.”
The open day was unfortunately taking place amid rain and what had been icy sleet, so the test ride service wasn’t as hectic as it could have been hoped. However, six riders had been out on loan bikes that morning and more were expected, a good number considering the downpour.
The store have been hosting regular rides since opening, from Thursday night jaunts, to the Sunday hill-smash-fest and a Saturday girls’ ride. Dan said: “The girls’ ride is one thing that has really taken off. Some of the women who come have bought bikes recently, and now they’re out riding and really flying.”
Speaking to one of the ladies who had braved the rain that morning, she told me: “We’re all fairly new, but we go at a relatively quick pace, it depends who turns up, but it’s lovely to have a chat and ride.”
All under one roof
So there we go – in one afternoon I chatted power and efficiency, met a gaggle of girls new to riding and intrepid enough to brave a jaunt on a flood risk day, and played with a kid drinking hot chocolate and powering a toy car over the table – all under one roof. Oh – and of course there was the raffle. Fingers crossed, hey?
Maison du Velo are holding a second open day tomorrow, Sunday 10th November – so pop down – I hear it’s going to be sunnier! More details here: www.facebook.com/bikeshopreigate