Fancy opening up a bike shop with me?

by jonnyroadbike   February 28, 2011  

Ever dreamt of opening up an awesome bike shop in the centre of London? to
Over the past year, myself and my business partner have been setting up the contacts, finances and location for a bike shop in the centre of London. Everything is in place. The brands, location (lease), and bank loan.
However, at the last moment, my partner has just pulled out on me. He feels he can’t risk the capital required to start it up and is worried about the risk of competition in the area.
I can’t afford to do this by myself and the bank loan is predicated upon a certain capital input by the owners. I only have half of that money.
So, I was wondering whether anybody reading this would like to go in with me?
You’ll need to be located in London, over 25, have over £100k (not borrowed), a good knowledge of bikes (preferably road), and preferably working experience in a bike shop or a retail environment (not a must). You’ll also need to understand that there’s a risk the venture wouldn’t succeed....
Obviously this is a long shot, and it’s less than ideal to be starting a business with somebody you’ve never met. But, if you are, or know, somebody that is seriously in a position to do this please do get in touch.
I’d stress, serious enquiries only please, if you’re under the age of 25 it’s very unlikely we’d be able to work together.
Believe me, having stepped off the corporate ladder to set this thing up, I can tell you, it’s not something you’ll regret.....
Please email if interested

23 user comments

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This reads like one of those emails you get from Nigeria... ...

... ... need more speed!

JC's picture

posted by JC [129 posts]
1st March 2011 - 13:03

1 Like

You reckon? Hypnotized Hypnotized Hypnotized Hypnotized Hypnotized seems like the offer of a lifetime D Oh

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
1st March 2011 - 13:47

1 Like

Ha ha. It's funny. I've just had a chat with one of the moderators of another forum where I've also posted this. He was explaining why he's locked the posting to stop people from posting exactly this sort of comment.

I take issue with it "reading like an email from Nigeria". I think the diction and prose are at least up to eastern european standards.... Wink

Suffice to say. It's a genuine ad. So please only respond or post if your genuinely interested, and genuinely able to pursue that interest.



posted by jonnyroadbike [7 posts]
1st March 2011 - 14:30


I am interested, but I only tick one box (25+)
Sorry; not in London and don't have a spare £100k

... ... need more speed!

JC's picture

posted by JC [129 posts]
1st March 2011 - 16:05


... and I'm not actually interested at all. But you can invite me to the opening! I'll keep my schedule free.

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
1st March 2011 - 16:31

1 Like

I don't want to sound like I'm weeing on your parade but £100k plus a bank loan to start up a bike shop! WTF!
Also why do you think you can succeed in London? I wouldn't want to go head-to-head with the likes of Cycle Surgery, Evans, Condor and On Your Bike, way too much serious competition. I just hope you can offer something that sets you apart or makes your shop a destination type of place.

posted by one_bad_mofo [32 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 9:41


It is shocking that some people feel the need to post such pedantic, ridiculous and purile comments seemingly expecting the OP to give a full and honest account of himself.

I'm sure Jonny has indeed calculated his way into bettering all other bike shops, and ergo thinks he can make a jolly good go of suceeding.

Good luck Jonny.

posted by broomwagonblog [16 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 21:31

1 Like

Thanks for the words of encouragement broomwagon.

To answer some of the queries and wtfs...

The comment from 0ne_bad_mofo was:
"I don't want to sound like I'm weeing on your parade but £100k plus a bank loan to start up a bike shop! WTF!"

I want to make it clear that the shop would be opened with more than £100k. I was asking that anybody interested should have at least £100k. So their stake of over £100k plus my stake plus a bank loan equals considerably more than £100k.

Perhaps one_bad_mofo should steer clear of a career in accountancy.

I unfortunately didn't steer clear.... am a chartered accountant, who's worked in the bike industry for the past 2 years studying it from the inside, building up contacts, information, and knowledge.

The business plan I have in place is very well underpinned.

I think I've got a very strong concept with great USPs to help fight against the might of the Private Equity owned cycle retail equivalents of starbucks.

If anybody serious really is interested, please do get in touch.


posted by jonnyroadbike [7 posts]
4th March 2011 - 10:11

1 Like

I was just thinking 100 + 100 + a loan adds up to quite a bit.

I guess you didn't come here for advice, but having done a few startups and looking at the experience you've got, I'd suggest trying to get an investor who has started something from scratch with hardly any money.

You've obviously got the contacts / margins / best sellers / industry knowledge nailed. Its a bit like recruitment though - what you don't want is 2 of you - that't not meant as an insult !

Good luck finding someone.
If you don't find someone, why not just start smaller ?

posted by potholist [4 posts]
4th March 2011 - 11:01

1 Like

I'm intrigued, I imagine Jonny has some kind of USP built into his business plan but I don't imagine he'll be telling us just yet what that is.

Am I right in thinking Jonny that you are looking for someone to take a hands-on role rather than just a sleeping partner?

With your background you've no doubt gone through the whole route of looking at start-up funding and angel investors, if you don't manage to secure a private investor is there any possibility of trying to get investment from a (non-retail) business already active in the industry (although that might detract from independence).

Anyway, best of luck with it and let us know how it all goes.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8491 posts]
4th March 2011 - 11:19

1 Like

Thanks for the comments and advice guys.

I'm definately looking for an active partner. That's really why I'm focussing on posting to the forums. I'm after somebody with a great knowledge of bikes who's interested in starting up their own business.

If you look across the successful ventures in London, most of the best ones have been started as a partnership.

There's a good reason for that. It's a lot of money. But more importantly it's a huge amount of work. Large and diverse inventory, time consuming customer service elements such as warranty and the process of selling a bike, not to mention the admin etc....the list goes on...

It really is a job for 2. I have looked into going smaller and myself, but frankly I'm a bit scared I'll get snowed under.

So if you're a lurker, reading this while tapping away on a spreadsheet in your big corporate office feeling a bit unfulfilled. Go on, give me a mail....what's the worst that can happen Wink.

(apart from losing your life savings of course)


posted by jonnyroadbike [7 posts]
4th March 2011 - 12:16

1 Like

I'm a lurker with the other credentials. What's the expected return on investment?

posted by Old Cranky [276 posts]
4th March 2011 - 12:48


Hi Cranky

I wouldn't want to go into those sorts of details in an open forum.

But if you fancy a chat about it I'd be happy to meet up and take you through all the details. Just send me a private email and we can sort something out.

posted by jonnyroadbike [7 posts]
4th March 2011 - 13:35

1 Like

Maybe Old Cranky could hire a Docklands loft apartment for the meeting, bare brick walls and bereft of furniture other than a chair and a desk with his £100,000 sitting on it Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8491 posts]
4th March 2011 - 13:39

1 Like

Read all the posts above........all I can say is good luck Smile

As usual on forums people are quick to criticise and offer all sorts of "helpful advice & comment" but not a lot else Big Grin !

....Whoops I suppose that includes me...

posted by BikerBob [115 posts]
4th March 2011 - 19:10


Good luck from me too. The more bike shops the better. Applause

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
4th March 2011 - 20:56

1 Like

If your USP hasn't been tested in the market yet, could you run something as a concession within another sports store (like the fashion clothes shops do), to see if it has legs ? ... while you're looking for a partner.

Expensive short term, but cheaper than finding you need to modify your offering when you've committed to a full scale plan.

Probably feels like only half doing the job, but you might get the footfall and loads of feedback; with the big plan sitting in the background, just waiting to be switched on.

I guess you've got most of it sorted, but something intermediate might just give you a chance to get something moving, if the partner search gets frustrating.

posted by potholist [4 posts]
6th March 2011 - 17:37

1 Like

Thanks for the wishes of good luck guys. That's one of the reasons why working in a bike shop is such good fun, there's an inordinately high proportion of nice folk in the cycling world...

I've considered a few options, and actually sounded out a few of the larger outward bounds shops regarding a place in their store. But unfortunately to no avail potholist. Unfortunateyl however, your main expenses when opening a shop arre the stock and shopfit. Even with a space in a pre-made shop you're likely to incur most of those.....

But if there is anyone out there is a large shop they want me to go into....Wink please do say. I'm especially interested if you're willing to offer a peppercorn rent Wink

posted by jonnyroadbike [7 posts]
7th March 2011 - 15:08


I wish you the best of luck, and I have only admiration for your enterprise and determination. I'm entirely bereft of those qualities, but I have been going into London's bike shops for 30 years, and I can't imagine there's been a tougher time than now to open a shop. The Private Equity chains, Evans and Cycle Surgery, have about 15 shops between them in Zone 1 alone. I presume they work by employing cheap, young staff and using buying power to get discounts from manufacturers, some of whom use price-fixing to prevent internet undercutting/support the bike trade (delete one of above). They market to the bubble of new cyclists in London, topping up bike sales with the fat margins from lights, locks, clothing and those weird things new cyclists wear on their heads. Is that sustainable? Are Boris Bikes cycling's Spotify? Discuss.
But you knew that, and you want road bike expertise, so I guess your USP isn't the mass market. Perhaps you think people with a few bob have nowhere to go beyond Condor. I think you're right, although for me Condor do a reasonable job. Women of my acquaintance aren't so keen. But by the time people are spending north of £2k, they may be starting to wonder how much personal service they need and whether they'd sooner save £500 online. Selling bits and stuff? Wiggle etc., not just on price but because the lack of standards means a shop will never have what you want. Repairs? The same guy who's happy to stump up £150 an hour to change the oil on his BMW begrudges shops £30 an hour for a more skilled job.
Maybe bikes for triathlon? Triathletes have tons of money, have to get a new bike every year and are kit freaks. But the guy I knew who targeted them couldn't make it work in London.
Again. Good Luck. But ask yourself; how many really good pizza places are there in London? Certainly not 15 in Zone 1.

Sven Ellis's picture

posted by Sven Ellis [31 posts]
8th March 2011 - 17:49

1 Like

Jonny, Firstly good luck with finding your partner and to acheiving your goals. It doesn't matter how many chain stores are in central London you will always have some business especially if you set yourself apart from the chainstores - look at condor and mosquito. I'm a bit worried about why you need so much investment to start up unless your looking at a huge square footage premises and the stock to fill it. If this is the case then if you have dreams of selling exlcusive high end brands that set yourself apart from the chains then it just won't work on this scale. The internet now dominates the bike trade and as someone who has recently started a business in this trade I can vouch that selling a Super Record groupset will bring you the same amount of profit as selling a set of carbon handlebars (about 40 quid) . I'm not saying it cannot work but you will spend alot of money very quickly and the return will be very slow becuase the margins simply aren't there, so if the motivation is money, don't do it. If it's a case that you would just like to be surrounded by bikes 6 days a week my advice would be, keep your 100k in the bank, get a job at bike distributor paying you an ok wage and treat yourself to a nice new bike and a trip to the alps every year out of your 100k savings. The most sucessful independant retailers in this business don't make much money - check them out at companies house. If it's your dream then go for it, if it's a business choice then my advice would be don't do it. I know you haven't asked for advice but hopefully you find some of this useful. Good luck.

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
10th March 2011 - 21:49


i wish you well with your business idea.

perhaps a discussion with these guys might provide some like minded direction?
they are seeking premises, you may have mutual interests.
Just a thought.

SQUADRA : Prestazioni con Passione Handbuilt Italian Bicycles & Framesets since 1992. Exclusively Designed for Competition, 100% Italian, No Compromise.

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posted by SQUADRA [6 posts]
12th March 2011 - 8:19


I have a mate who owns a bike shop down here in Bristol.

Its not about the bikes its about the way you run the bike shop.

People buy people, why any one would go into Evans or Halfords over a LBS is completely beyond me unless its just for something ancillary like an inner tube of Knog back light.

The local bike shop 'should' be the hub of the local biking community with countless opportunities to cross sell during shop rides & social gatherings.

Opening your own bike shop is a lifestyle choice & truly unique opportunity, fair play my son, get on and do it.

I wish you the best of luck!

Rgds James

jboyslick's picture

posted by jboyslick [6 posts]
22nd March 2011 - 11:18

1 Like

The comment from 0ne_bad_mofo was:
"I don't want to sound like I'm weeing on your parade but £100k plus a bank loan to start up a bike shop! WTF!"

I want to make it clear that the shop would be opened with more than £100k. I was asking that anybody interested should have at least £100k. So their stake of over £100k plus my stake plus a bank loan equals considerably more than £100k.

Damn the internet and it's lack of nuance. What I was trying to point out is that the sort of outlay you're suggesting as a start-up is way more than most cycle businesses begin with. I know I once started a business in the bike trade* and I know others who have done the same.

It makes me think of the old joke. How do you make a small fortune in the bike trade? Start with a large one.

If you decide to go for it the best of look.

* I ran the business for five years but the economic situation globally and the time invested/money returned equation wasn't working out. I didn't lose money but I didn't really make any either and I wanted to get a socail life back. Wink

posted by one_bad_mofo [32 posts]
23rd March 2011 - 11:53

1 Like