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MYSTERY SHOPPER


Rick Green Cycles, Handforth


RICK GREENS has been in existence for 32 years and is located on the High Street in Handforth, just north of Wilmslow town centre. The exterior of the shop has a modern and appealing façade, with ample free parking opposite. Inside, Rick Greens is a mixture of road, mountain and family oriented bikes, not too crammed but using all the available space, walls and ceilings, to good effect. It was pleasing to see the churn of customers there whilst I was browsing, discussing a warranty, a regular buying a new wheels and a couple looking for a children’s bike. This looks like a real community shop and the atmosphere was very welcoming. I was greeted warmly by Alistair who showed me the products they had, including a Specialized Sirrius and a Specialized Hardrock Sports Disc in 29er guise. He went on to explain the options, the service the shop offered and how the Hardrock would be the most versatile for the requirement. I was sold by his effective, polite and knowledgeable understanding of the products. This is far from a boutique shop, but a little treasure on the High Street.


Cycle Centre, Congleton


CYCLE CENTRE has two façades, a bricks and mortar shop, with over 20 years trading experience and an online presence as CycleStore.co.uk. Congleton is ten miles south of Macclesfield. The shop is on a main road close to a larger out of town shopping centre, though there appears to be no dedicated parking available, only on street. The shop itself offers only accessories and clothing downstairs, though is very well stocked with both road and MTB products. Not immediately obvious, the bikes are all upstairs. A friendly member of staff directed me upstairs and said he’ll be up when he finds a staff member to relieve him. I waited (too long) for him to arrive. When the assistant did turn up, he needed a reminder of my requirements, though quickly got on with steering me in the right direction, offering Kona, Giant and Speciaized around my price point and commuter requirements. This very well established shop looks a little tired in decor and cluttered in both bikes and accessories, with almost too much choice. However, it is a good enthusiasts spot, based on product offer, ambiance and general service.


BIKEBIZ.COM


Royles, Wilmslow


ROYLES IS a big player in this region with large budgets for consumer magazine advertising and supports the Manchester Bike&Tri show with sponsorship. Wilmslow is one of the leafy and affluent parts of Cheshire and you’d expect this shop to offer excellent service to the discerning customer. Upon arrival, my thoughts turned to one phrase, ‘Boutique’. Royles turns out to be high- end, road only and decidedly ‘upper class’. It looks like the blueprint for Manchester’s ‘The Bike Rooms’. Not a Commuter, MTB or Hybrid bike in sight, and I have no idea how such a store trades without the footfall of family, leisure and day to day bikes, maybe it’s the online presence. The website does not allude to the high-end nature either, so was this a fruitless trip? For my purposes, yes, though Graham did show me some bikes to suit in the Trek catalogue. I’d be able to kick a Trek 7.3 FX tyre in 3 to 5 days, though I suspect Royles doesn’t get many requests at this price point. I can’t help feeling a little misled, this is not just a bike shop, this is a Wilmslow Road Bike Shop. For my needs - not ideal, as an enthusiast road bike shop top marks.


Summary


NOT ONE of these shops offered ‘poor service’ and all had access to the types of bike I was looking for, though for one, I was not their target demographic and they had nothing they could show me beyond a catalogue. There has to be a winner and it’s a close call but Peak Cyclesports just takes it for me. The options provided looked like real value for money, with Whyte appealing as a ‘British’ company. No one should feel particularly hard done by the experience. South Manchester / Cheshire has some fantastic bike shopping experiences.


BIKEBIZ JANUARY 15


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