Particularly popular among bike couriers, the fixed gear bicycle was never intended as a fashion over function item. Mark Sutton talks to Brick Lane about the niche’s culture and the money to be made in custom builds...


The now firmly established, fixed gear culture shares a lot with the emergence of skateboarding and BMX. It’s catchy and creates curiosity. Visit Brick Lane Bikes and you’ll see a showroom that has borrowed ideas from the industry’s catwalk and blended these with a style all of its own.

The add on sales potential within this niche is on par with the way anodised parts revolutionised the BMX scene and breathed new life into a niche that had been slouching.

Brick Lane Bikes manager Jason Finch explained: "Within this niche, customisation is king. Plenty of the builds we do are from the ground up and as a result we’ve launched our own labelled components brand. For the most part, everything we offer comes in a variety of colours. Perhaps unbeknown to some in the trade, vintage road bike parts are having a real resurgence and as a result we try to secure as much classic stock as possible. Some of these items have doubled in value in recent years, despite being old stock.”

So how far past ‘fad’ is fixie? Well, Brick Lane Bikes now has a sub-division distribution company dubbed Big Mama and has been forced to take extra warehouse space to cope with the stock demands – all in a very short space of time.

Finch continues: “Every time we think fixed gear has hit a peak another horizon appears. Fads can last for years, but when a niche attracts attention from the likes of Nike that’s a pretty strong indication that it’s trajectory is set for growth.”

The culture developed within built up urban areas worldwide and to support this dedicated magazines, blogs and stores are emerging at quite a rate. In fact, on the very same road as Brick Lane Bikes, there’s another dedicated store. So should you be cautious of the band wagon?

“Three London shops dedicated to the niche have opened in the space of six months. But, competition is healthy and we’re all for the sustainability of the market,” added Finch. “These kind of bikes are not just A to B items, they’re for meeting friends, bike polo, for making your own.”

Such is Brick Lane’s influence within the worldwide culture, brands have approached the store seeking advice on product. However, the shop has also attracted attention from outside the industry too. It’s hard to miss the latest Diet Coke television advert in which Duffy grabs a track bike and goes for a whirl around a supermarket – Brick Lane supplied that bike. To place further emphasis on the ‘cool factor’, a recent Mail on Sunday photoshoot borrowed a fixie from Brick Lane, only to use it as a background prop.

The workshop is no less an important part of Brick Lane’s business. To cope with the volume of custom wheel builds, the store now has a dedicated full-time wheel lacer who, on average, completes ten custom builds per day.

Distribution Dynamite
Brick Lane’s distribution arm, Big Mama, has a taken into account both the fashion and function aspect of fixie business taking on Velocity rims in a recent deal. The brand caters for 700 and 650c, 26, 20 and 16-inch mix and match shades. Some even have braking surfaces, although for the traditional fixie this isn’t necessary.

However, it’s not just Velocity available via Big Mama. Super sexy brands such as Phil Woods, Paul Lane’s own brand are under the available portfolio.

An online web store is due in the coming months, however, trade members are able to place orders and make enquiries on 0207 0332900 now.

Owner: Jan Milewski
Location: Brick Lane, London
Telephone: 020 7033 2900
Opening Times: 9am-7pm on weekdays, 11am-7pm on Saturdays and 11am-6pm on Sundays

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