Better Bankside member business ‘On Your Bike’ brings to Bankside an all round bike shop offering a comprehensive range of bikes, clothing and accessories. Not to mention a bit of history. Set up by Robert Chappell in 1983, the store opened its doors at a time when north Southwark was still fairly run down and certainly an area of low activity; the docks and warehouses had closed and new business had yet to move in. Robert, who prior to opening ‘On Your Bike’ worked for Barclays Bank and in his spare time sold mail order tyres from a back room in his parent’s house, saw the potential in this part of London. Aged just 22 he opened his first store in an old butchers shop in Duke Hill Street near Tooley Street, perfectly located to catch commuters working in the City but travelling via London Bridge and looking to pick up their bike parts on their way to the station.
In the early days Robert ran the business alone, doing everything himself from repairing bikes to marketing, purchasing and sales. After nine months of trading, the business needed staff and took on its first employee. Since then the business has at times employed upwards of 40 staff and moved around the London Bridge area a few times. 1987 saw the move from its original location to its well known Tooley Street site and more recently, in 2012’ On Your Bike’ moved due to the redevelopment of London Bridge station. The current premises are in arches literally underneath the London Bridge itself, between the bridge and Southwark Cathedral at the bottom of the steps down to Borough Market. They extend to 10,000 square feet and are an Aladdin’s cave of everything cycling! Although the premises are not visible from the road they are still very convenient for commuters using London Bridge.
Pleasingly, the new store falls within the Better Bankside area, gracing Bankside with a really comprehensive independent offering. As well as a fantastic range of bikes, clothing and accessories ‘On Your Bike’ runs a workshop which offers same day serving and is a fully accredited Brompton service centre. Additional services include cycle hire, doctor bikes and maintenance classes.
‘On Your Bike’ has catered for all the cycling trends that have surfaced in the last 30 years; from BMX and Mountain bikes to Hybrids, Racing and Folding bikes. Robert has witnessed firsthand how cycling in London has evolved. He reports that in the past five years there has been a step change in the number of people using bikes for commuting and leisure. He believes that a major contribution to the increasing popularity is the fact that the current key decision makers in businesses have grown up with bikes being an acceptable way of getting to work and are therefore prepared to make facilities available for their employees. And they are also reaping the benefits of having a healthier and more mobile workforce.
We congratulate Rob for 30 years of business and hope he’ll continue to help Banksiders get on their bikes for another 30 years to come.