Bikes Love You: A Conversation with an Independent Bike Workshop

Updated: Sep 28

WORDS & PHOTOS | Nick Archer

Bike workshops are the lifeblood of the cycling community. They're who we go running to when things go wrong and we just can't fix them outselves. Often, the stories of their origins are just as interesting as the adventures had on the bikes they maintain.

A mural of a bike schematic is on the wall, wheels are hung above it

Squeezed shoulder to shoulder between retail units on a busy Nottingham road sits a little door. Above the nondescript entrance is an equally small sign brandishing the logo of a bicycle. In the window are the words 'Bikes Love You.'

Various tools are hung on the wall of thw workshop

This is not a statement of reassurance that the mechanical partner who has taken you on many adventures and has suddenly decided to stop working, does still hold some affection for you. This is the name of a workshop specialising in bicycle repairs and servicing, but do not be fooled by the understated shop front, this brand has big plans.

Bikes Love You has been run by Anthony Hopwood since 2017, starting out as a stall on the local Sneinton Market, then moving into the shop fronted unit in summer 2020.

Anthony was at that point working with his friend Eddie at West Bridgford Bike Workshop during the lockdown induced Bicycle Renaissance.

'I've never seen anything like it. I'd cycle through Sherwood on the way to West Bridgford and not see a soul, then walk into the workshop and it was constant. We'd repair 20-30 bikes a day, what with people dragging their old bikes out of the back of garages, just for a chance to get out of the house. We called them Shed Bandits.'

Anthony sits on a stool in the bike workshop, tools are on the wall, a bike is in the background
Anthony in his workshop

After a hectic day fixing a seemingly endless line of bicycles, Anthony would head straight over to Sneinton to continue building the Bikes Love You workshop. His history with bikes dates back to a childhood racing Raleigh Activators around his neighbourhood in a little gang that included a younger Eddie.

'When you're on your bike, doing mad tricks and jumps, you need to know how to repair it. We also pimped them out with bash rings, DMR pedals and stuff like that.'

3 bikes are hung on the wall alongside various componants

His love for bikes wouldn't continue into his formative years, however, confessing with a shrug that the discovery of cars, women and alcohol was a distraction for him.

He went to university and worked as a photographer for many years, splitting his time between the corporate world and the art community with Nottingham-based spaces like Backlit and The Contemporary. Growing bored of the path his career was taking, he moved back towards bicycles to work with Bike Ability, Ride Wise and Cycle Life Derby, before setting up Nottingham Bike Works and finally lending a hand at West Bridgford Bike Workshop.

Although Anthony had always wanted to own and run a bike shop, it wasn't the original plan. In 2019 he had spent a year in Cilento, Italy learning how to operate a tour company.

'I used the last bit of funding available from Europe to UK citizens called the Erasmus Scheme. I worked there mainly as a mechanic, but did some tour leading and route planning, basically learning the trade. This was the whole idea, then lockdown hit and plans changed.'

The time was not wasted. Anthony has plans to launch in early 2022. This is a bike tours company focussing on long 'slow' rides, stopping at places of historical and even gastronomic interest. Anthony is hoping to support the growing interest in cycling and active travel in this way.

'I think that if you make a change, get people cycling more, you can create a local economy around that. It'll never outdo motor car but if you can see an increase in bike tourism, then local authorities and businesses will be more inclined to invest in bike infrastructure.'

Mario works at the workbench
Volunteer Mario hard at work

Bikes Love You is an excellent place for repairs and servicing, and Anthony's team of volunteers, Mario, Graham and Joel are always on hand to assist cyclists on any budget.

Being Nottingham based, they have rescued and resuscitated my own and friends bikes on a number of occasions, as well as taught me how to maintain them myself. Friendly, knowledgeable and endlessly helpful, a cup of tea goes hand in hand with solid, professional advice.


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