Bicycle Portraits Book Launch

Last night was the UK launch of South African produced book trilogy; Bicycle Portraits, which takes a beautifully shot and up-close look at everyday South African people and their trusty steeds. Authors and photographers, Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler, travelled the length and breadth of the country, searching out people who choose to ride a bicycle in the face of cultural and social stigma, crime and dangerous roads. The journey became a three year project, spanning 10,000 km.

The launch was a way to showcase these amazing books to the UK, exhibit some lovely photographs, and show off some South African bicycle craftsmanship.

The books look awesome, and the printing is second to none.

The lads, Stan Engelbrecht (left) and Nic Grobler (right)

The books have actually been on my radar for a while, after seeing them on a trip to Cape Town to take part in the annual Cape Argus Cycle Tour. Coincidently, my brother got to know Stan and Nic while working in Woodstock Cycleworks in Cape Town, which lead Stan getting in touch with me to get involved with the launch, or more specifically, to involve my South African built Hansom track bike!

My lovely Hansom, which I brought back with me from Cape Town, in all it’s glory.

As with the UK, South Africa has had a boom in appreciation for old steel bicycle frames, and few people are aware that South Africa once rejoiced in its own industry of hand-made bicycle frames. It was a trade that was once rich in South Africa, and has now all but disappeared: the age of the master frame builder. In that era, a group of highly skilled, specialised South African artisans practised the art of bike-making. Builders like Gotty Hansen, Francois Du Toit and Bill de Lange, to name a few, were part of this group, and their beautifully handmade frames are now well sought after. As the UK has seen an encouraging growth in young frame builders, South Africa is also seeing the emergence of builders like Mercer. Stan brought his custom built Mercer with him, and I was blown away by how awesome it was, take a look for yourself…

Note the S&S couplings, amazingly awesome custom paint job, and a handmade front rack that attaches via the bolts on the Thomson stem.

The launch and exhibition also served as a means to promote Stan and Nic’s other baby, The Tour Of Ara; A L’Eroica-type event which is held in Cape Town over six days… “The Tour of Ara, named for the Southern Hemisphere constellation of Ara, is a prestige race that is ridden on vintage South African built steel bicycles in the proud tradition of the early Italian multi-day stage races.”

As with L’Eroica, there are rules. As mentioned, the bikes have to be South African, and all parts (bar saddle and pedals) have to be pre-1999. Having heard stories from last years event, the first one, and how the unusually extreme cold had sent some of the riders into a state worse than delirious, I know this is an event not for the faint of heart. As the boys say themselves, “The Tour of Ara is ridden entirely at your own risk. Know your abilities and limitations.” That’s you told then.

A shot of Stan’s Alpina, mid-race somewhere.

They had some woollen jerseys made, for that authentic touch. Nic’s Le Jeune sits below.

Beautiful landscape pictures taken en route.

Stan Engelbrecht

@bicycleportrait (Twitter)
@stanengelbrecht (Instagram)

Exhibition Dates
Thursday 14th May – 14th June

Sale Road Bikes

Our sale is continuing, and will continue while stocks last. We’ve still got some pretty tasty bargains left though, here’s a few choice picks…

Full carbon monocoque frameset, with Campag Athena 11 speed group and Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels.
£1,800 (from £3,000) 40% off
De Rosa Merak

GENESIS VOLARE 10 853 58cm
Reynolds 853 frame, tapered carbon fork, Shimano 105 group and Shimano wheels.
£1,225 (from £1,750) 30% off
GENESIS VOLARE 20 931 54cm
Reynolds 931 stainless steel frame, tapered carbon fork, Shimano Ultegra 11 speed group, RS61 wheels.
£1,800 (from £3,000)
Genesis Volares

Aluminium frame, carbon fork, 105 10 speed group.
£600 (from £1,000) 40% off
Aluminium frame, carbon fork, SRAM Apex group.
£720 (from £1,200) 40% off

Swipii Loyalty Cards

We’ve just introduced a new loyalty card scheme here at Fitzrovia Bicycles, through new company, Swipii, who provide an award winning and easy-to-use loyalty program you can find and use at all your local businesses with a single card or phone app. The benefit to you, is that you can do away with all the little cards you get, and have one card for all the places you visit.

The cards are free, we have them in the shop now, and a minimum spend of £5 will allow you to scan your card in the shop and start collecting points. These points can then be used in the shop. Here’s a list of what’s on offer to start with…

25 points – Puncture kit
35 points – Water bottle
50 points – Fitzrovia Bicycles t-shirt
100 points – Standard Service
200 points – Enhanced Service
300 points – Premium Service

Read more about Swipii here, and visit our Swipii profile here.


jan sale copy

We’re clearing out a lot of 2014 bike stock, and so have reduced every bike in the shop. There’s high end road bikes from De Rosa, Van Nicholas, Genesis and more with 30-40% off, and even some full carbon Raleighs with a massive 50% off. Commuter bikes from Bobbin and Ridgeback have discounts of at least 20%. We don’t expect all these to hang around for too long, so pop in and grab a proper bargain.


Doing the whole Black Friday thing on, errr, Friday.
20% off all bikes, parts and accessories (does not include workshop labour), including a further 20% off already discounted items.
This is for one day only, we’ll be open as normal from 8am – 7pm.
See you Friday then, don’t forget to mention the Black Friday sale.

A Special Van Nicholas Build

Yep, this one was special, because I was building it for my dad during the summer. He wanted to add a titanium road bike to his stable, and the Van Nicholas Chinook was perfect; a (more or less) horizontal top tube would give the classic positioning he was used from his steel bikes. He’d already bought himself a lovely NOS Dura Ace 7800 groupset, which was undoubtedly going to look great against the bare titanium, this along with a wheelset with old school Hope titanium hubs. So I brought the frame and remaining parts up to Wales, and built it in his garden on a lovely summer’s day.

Gotta love that Dura Ace packaging.

The lovely frame in question; the Van Nicholas Chinook.

Ritcheys ‘Classic’ bar and stem combo were a great match for the groupset, along with a polished silver Chris King headset.

Love these old titanium-bodied Hope hubs, the matching skewers finish them off nicely too.

And where would we be without some gratuitous shots of that lovely Dura Ace group.

The finished article. Needless to say, my dad is super chuffe, who wouldn’t be?

1960s Harry Quinn Rebuild

We had the pleasure of rebuilding this lovely bike for a customer. Originally, the frame came to us in a fairly tatty state, at which point we had it ‘modernised’ to some extent; rear end spaced to 130mm, cable stops added to the top tube and chain stay, and cable stop bosses attached to the downtube to allow fitting of adjustable cable stops. The customer then had it painted in Liverpool, at the very same place it would’ve been painted back in the 60s. Lovely stuff.

The brief was to build it with modern parts, but retaining the classic look. So we went for a silver Campag Veloce groupset, Halo Retro wheels, Dia Compe centre pull calipers, Panaracer Pasela gumwall tyres, and Brooks bar tape and saddle. And we’d like to think it’s a job well done, it certainly looks the part and safe to say, the customer seemed suitably chuffed.

Christmas opening hours

23rd 8am-7pm
24th 8am-4pm
28th 11am-5pm
29th 11am-5pm
30th 11am-5pm
31st 11am-3pm
2nd Open as normal 8am-7pm