What’s your background in the bike trade?
I started my first Saturday boy bike shop job at Guildford Cycles when I was 15 and then worked at seven other bikes shops around the country until I was 21 when I decided that I needed to do something with my life. Uni looked expensive and there were no guarantees so I decided that experience and knowledge were worth more. All I knew was bikes, so I got a small loan and started my own shop in Guildford – 360 Cycles. I then moved premises to a bigger shop in Derby and was there for two years until I out grew out of the space and got involved with the new shop…and here I am – 15 years in the trade.
How did you come to take over at The Bike Tree?
A colleague of mine from a previous bike shop stared The Tree but soon lost the love for the trade when he realised it was such hard work. When he found out that I was looking to upsize from where I was with 360 Cycles in Derby, he offered to sell The Tree to me. I had been involved with the shop from the beginning so knew how much hard work had been put in to make it what it was, so I started managing the shop once the sale/takeover went through.
Describe the typical Bike Tree customer:
We get a right mix here but I suppose our regular customers are late 20s to mid-40s trail riders and racers.
Are you primarily a MTB shop?
We try hard not to be as we offer everything, but our focus is custom-build MTBs, yes.
Do you still find time to ride now you’re in charge at The Bike Tree?
I live in Derby still so I ride in every now and then and I lead out a shop ride every week into the Peaks on a Wednesday evening for some proper trail riding. Follow the shop on Strava to see how much we get done.
What are your ambitions for the shop? You’ve changed the brand mix since you took over?
Yes, we have mixed things up a fair bit. More of an effort on road was needed so we have addressed that with better brands and clothing and a dedicated area in the shop for all things road related. The same goes for BMX. We have a mini-BMX shop at the front of the store.
We have just bought a website so in the future we would hope to be busy on the mail order front too. It’s a tough one to crack and get right, but I’ve had enough experience in it over the years to know how to make it work.
Do you offer hire bikes so riders can take advantage of the local countryside?
We have a couple of high-end demo bikes that we rent out. They’re mainly there to showcase the frame brand we carry but anyone is welcome to take them out.
What’s the most exciting thing about cycling at the moment?
The sheer number of people getting into or back into it – it will spur on so much more cycle-friendly infrastructure in the UK that eventually we will all benefit. Also 29ers and dropper posts are epic.
Any final thoughts?
Just that I love my job! It’s a dream come true for me and one that I’ve been lucky enough to realise for a few years now. It never gets old and I’m genuinely excited to get up and go to a bike shop everyday.
Opening Times: 10am-6pm, Mon-Sat
Telephone: 0114 236 5858
Location: 289 Abbeydale Road South, Sheffield, S17 3LB.