Not So Green

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I decided that a bicycle would be the best way to get around London, especially from my apartment to school. First I needed to find a bike store.  There are a few bicycle stores locally, specifically Evan's Bikes.  Well, I went to Evan’s Bikes, and Evan doesn’t sell bikes that are less than 1,000 so that was out of the question.  I turned next to the internet.  I searched for discount bicycle stores in the area, and found Discount Bikes in south south south London.  Discount Bikes had free shipping and really great deals on brand new bikes.  They had a great bundle offered on their website for a brand new hybrid bicycle with a lock, clips, helmet, lights, and pump for only 200 (plus a free rubix cube!).  With that in mind, I also found a discount used cycle shop called Camden Cycles in Camden Town, London.  Their website hailed them as the only "green" cycle shop in London, and they claimed to refurbish old bicycles and give them a new home for ultra-cheap prices.  Since their store was relatively close I decided to run over there and see what they have to offer.

On the tube ride over, I imagined I would find the store run by born and bred Londoners passionate about bikes.  When I actually arrived, it was a small store with bikes all over the walls and floors with barely enough room to walk.  It didn’t look like anyone was on duty until some Arab guy asked if I needed help.  Apparently, he worked there.  He asked how much I was looking to spend, and I told him maybe 100 or maybe even 200 for a really nice bike.  Well, he showed me three bicycles in that range and one for 229, all could be paid for in cash (which I didn’t have or like at all about this place).  The bikes he’d shown me I wouldn’t call “refurbished” at all.  These bikes had seen better days and the former rider must have crashed daily to accumulate all the scratches and dents on them, not to mention that all the gear numbers had been rubbed off so it’s your guess as to what gear you’re in.   Keeping in mind that I could get a brand new bike and accessories for 200 from Discount Bikes, I wasn’t about to pay 229 for some pipes with wheels.  I just told him that I needed to think about it before I got one, and that’s when his business associate chimed in.   This new Arab guy took over the sale from then on and shooed the other one away.  I told him I wanted the cheapest bottom-of-the-barrel- bikes they had.  He showed me some of the same bikes the other guys showed me and a few more, except this time the bikes were different prices, some more or less than what the other guy told me (another thing I really didn’t like) but still in the 100-200 range.  However, one of the bikes he showed me had some potential so he let me ride it.  Essentially, he threw me out into the street expecting me (the American) to know how the bass ackwards traffic system works in the UK.  There are white lines, red lines, white jagged lines, dotted white lines, and symbols that I still don’t know what they mean.  Anyway, I found a secluded side street to struggle on.  The bike was, at best, okay.  The gears were sticky, chain a little rusted, and the handlebar rubber had come and gone.  The 180 asking price was a bit much.  In fact, it wouldn’t have given him 50 for it.  I would have given up $20, if only to melt down the metal and sell it.  I rode two others that were significantly worse just to amuse the sales guy, I guess.  While I was trying out these bikes, a girl dropped by to look at the bikes.  I overheard her and the other sales guy discuss the prices, and her bikes (which were unisex bikes) were only running her around 70.  Where were the 70 bikes when I was looking??  It seemed that the bikes cost what you were willing to spend.  If I had 400, then they all cost about 400.  I had 1000, then they all cost 1000.  Stupid.

I told him that I still needed to think about it (better believe my mind was already made up), and I didn’t have the cash anyway.  Maybe I would be back (never).  He told me that he was going to be honest, and that the first bike I road was such a nice one that it might be gone in 30 minutes!  I seriously doubted this claim.  I didn’t believe a single bike in the whole store would sell in 30 minutes, let alone that particular one.

The trip wasn’t worthless though.  Camden Cycles is adjacent to Regent’s Park so I headed that way to walk through it.  Regent’s Park has a lot going on in it, including the London Zoo and Regent’s College.  I only walked through the Avenue Gardens portion of the park so I will, undoubtedly, have more to post about Regent’s Park in the future.

P.S. As soon as I got home, I bought the bike from Discount Bikes.
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Annemarieke de Vlaming on

Bicycle hoe bags!! What happened to the bike with delivery service you told me about!?

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