Nestled between numerous BBC offices and other big business we arrived to a bustling Velorution, full of fresh curiosity and loyal custom alike. Despite the undoubtedly higher overheads, W1 is a great postcode for a retail business in London. The footfall is largely affluent, creative and happy to broaden their horizons – a perfect fit for a bike shop specialising in arriving in style and comfort on one’s own steam.
With so many high profile organisations in the area, it’s no coincidence that Velorution counts David Beckham, Russell Crowe and Derren Brown among its past customers.
“Stephen Fry even popped in to browse recently,” an enthusiastic staffer tells BikeBiz as we browse the unique catalogue of bikes, blazers and trinkets. London artist and friend of the shop James Straffon pops by to sample one of the store’s fresh coffees, now delivered out front on the decking via a custom designed Pashley Barista Trike.
Straffon’s cycling art is both displayed and sold via Velorution, adding an extra dimension for those with lives that are embedded in cycling.
“We like to offer the whole cultural experience,” says Gretta Cole, Velorution co-owner. “You’ll have spotted that we also sell a range of Hassleblad cameras and the reason for that is that we like to offer our customers a truly immersive urban cycling experience. We’ve covered the A-to-Z of riding in style, from own brand tweed jackets, to artwork for the home. We enjoy strong sales with own brand goods. Thanks to an innovative team of designers, we were able to respond to what we saw as a gap in the quality leather cycle shoe market, so we launched our own.”
As seems to increasingly be the case in cycle retail, Velorution has set itself up to be a destination store for brands and often labels totally exclusive to the business in the UK. There’s brands we’ve never heard of, brands papped by BikeBiz cameras on the other side of the globe and numerous one of a kind builds. Everything has character and curves. Every bike above a certain price point is as unique as the last, but why?
“We travel the world to find these brands,” says director Conrad Lewis. “We’re just back from Taipei with a few fresh ideas. Often we’re approached by labels who understand the Velorution business and want to be involved. Quality is always our priority when choosing which brands to carry.”
It’s noticeable too, with a healthy smattering of British-made goods, plenty more sporting the simple, quiet and effective belt drive – something for which the store has become a specialist – as well as some of the most practical rides you could possibly own in the city. Vanmoof Bikes, for example, are rarely seen in the UK, but with integrated dynamo lighting and security, such a bike is a no-brainer for London. There’s a wealth of folding bikes too, from Strida and Airnimal to freshly added exclusive Ori, a brand designed by ex-Formula One engineer Jon Whyte.
“Quality is of paramount importance, but that doesn’t mean we’re all about getting from A-to-B as fast as possible,” says Cole. “We’re huge fans of everyday cycling and doing so in comfort. We’ve a deep range of stock carried simply to allow the rider to arrive in comfort – that’s very important if we’re ever to grow cycling in the UK to Danish levels, for example.”
Cycling for transport is central to the Velorution ideology, so much so that the branch is in regular contact with London’s key cycling Tzars – even bagging an interview with Andrew Gilligan for the launch issue of the store’s own magazine. Yes, you read that right; Velorution has its own self-titled magazine, now onto its third issue and serving not only as a platform to assist Velorution’s customers, but also as a platform to advertise the store’s brands.
The magazine aside, the store has also scored strong press coverage for its rather unique catalogue, something Cole believes has helped drive footfall.
“We never stand still. The creative side to our business is what makes us interesting. Many of our smaller brand partners approach us because we have a fantastic reach through our magazine, newsletter and our constant press coverage showcasing our fabulous products.”
It’s a strategy that’s working, with Cole telling BikeBiz the business is doubling turnover year-on-year.
When asked what the greatest challenge facing cycle retail was at present, the answer was, however, far from the standard complaint.
“It’s keeping up with demand,” said Cole. “The market is growing at an astonishing rate, so many people choose to cycle and we are really proud to be part of that.”
Opening in Selfridges
Now open at 400 Oxford Street on the lower ground floor of Selfridges, Velorution has launched what it calls an Urban Cycling Store – the only one of its kind in the iconic London department store.
Exclusively found within the 110 square metre branch will be brands including Montana Gold Bike, Maserati Bike, Rizoma Metropolitan Bike, Randonneur Furntiure, Paul Smith 531 clothing, Velorution Lumatwill Tweed Jackets, Edige Leather Helmets, James Straffon Artworks, Velorution Vintage style leather Shoes and Pashley Clothing.
In addition to its range of bicycles Velorution will be showcasing some exclusive bikes at Selfridges, including a €36,000 gold bicycle adorned with more than 11,000 Swarovski stones and a luxurious Python leather seat.
Telephone: 0207 148 5572
Location: 75-77 Great Portland Street, Marylebone, London, W1W 7LR