Friday, 21 May 2010
Steve from Moustachio’s Bikes runs his bicycle workshop in mighty Seven Sisters, north London. Still in it’s initial stages of maturity, it has already become a success by providing a number of unique services unavailable in the area. As well as providing people with a more understanding of bikes and riding, workshops like Moustachio’s Bikes could be used as meeting places for the community, to allow like minded people to join and plan a better cycling network for new and experienced cyclists alike.
All this new wave of cycling in London, people are really getting into it, do you think we’ll ever be as big on cycling as say, Amsterdam or Copehagen?
I hope so. Geographically London is ideal for cycling because it is flat and not so large that any journey should ever take over an hour. Cycling in London makes more sense than any other method of transport. It is good for the environment, peoples’ health, is far more affordable, improves peoples’ navigational skills, is refreshing, activating and creates an independence incomparable to the alternatives. The financial restrictions of the economy have forced people to seek alternative travelling means, and the recent surge in popularity of cycling has provided an easily obtainable solution
I don’t believe the jump to becoming a truly bike friendly capital is so great but it will require the combined efforts of all involved. For it to work successfully to the benefit of the riders, the progress should be in the hands of the riders, not the corporate chain stores, the government, or the councils. Cycling is a symbol of freedom and the idea of cyclists waiting for a better London to be created for them is going to be a long and painful path to take. I think the councils should put more effort into helping to create network of communal workshops that can be used by all to fix their bike problems, and also create more secure bike locking facilities. I particularly like that many squatting communities are now giving free bike maintenance tutorials free of charge as a way of giving back to the community that maintains their cost-free existence.
What are your favourite bikes, do you have any preferred type?
There is only one type of bike that I like and that is a bike that the rider is completely happy with, that functions safely and efficiently, and opens doors to independence and good times. A bike should be set up as a reflection of riding style and needs.
There is currently a surge in stock bikes to match the expanding variety of riding styles. This is great as it allows buyers a diversity of choice and hence more accessibility to previously custom-only setups. However, the flip side is that with this convenience comes the ease to just let someone else make decisions for you that affect your ride. Stock bikes can only ever provide a good starting base; only with time in the saddle will you find out which parts are more or less suitable as they wear out, break, restrict or cause discomfort. Spending lots on a stock bike with lots of really expensive parts is often counter productive when you realise all these parts are not suitable or do not fit.
Riding is a learning experience and taking it slowly is the best and most safe way to becoming a confident and accomplished rider. Learning what bike to ride is part of that learning experience. People like to jump on whatever bike is trendy at the moment, without knowing how to ride it properly first. It can be quite dangerous.
Do you have any rarities in your collection?
I believe I am one of the only BMXers in the world who still runs a 2-brake setup, a trials riding habit that has shaped my riding style irrevocably, so in that sense my BMX is pretty rare!
I also have an amazing tricycle that a friend found, which was probably homemade by some DIY fiend like myself, with an excess of welding tools and materials. It’s a tiny kid’s trike but it is so heavily over-engineered, it’s amazing. It is made of solid rectangular section iron bar, has no bearings, and you cannot lift it. Truly unique and near completely useless unless upgraded to become a locomotive train.
Building a community where cyclists help each other is really important and it seems like you could be playing an important role in this. What are your plans for the future?
There is never any one way to solve any large scale problem like a whole city of cyclists’ bikes requiring regular maintenance, but there is an option that is currently expanding in London that I believe will be better for the majority of commuters. Cyclists looking to buy or fix a bike will benefit from community based workshops because they will teach people to fix and maintain their own bikes and provide them with the means and support they need to do this indefinitely, becoming independent from the expense and the hassle associated with high street stores, specialist stores, and online parts buying and DIY home mechanics.
I really hope that this year will be a turning point in providing London with a better network of community based workshops so that eventually all Londoners have this option available to them, no matter where they are based.
Here's some of his work:
You can contact steve through his Facebook page, he'll be happy to sort you out with all your bike needs!