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Chevin Cycles Otley

If ever there was a town naturally suited for a local bike shop, then it's Otley. Home of World Champion Lizzie Armitstead, the Brownlee brothers living nearby, and a great cycle club with it's own huge club building. Bring on Chevin Cycles then, voted the best independent bike store in the UK for 2014

The Store

Situated right in the town centre, and on the course route for the famous annual 'Otley Races', this is one very big shop - no, showroom. Clean, modern, well laid out, with a great range of products, there's something for everyone, even changing rooms for you to try on the multitude of gear from leading brands. 

Director Sanjai Bhatia, has a keen eye for detail and quality, and having spoken to him at length, it's easy to see his vision for Chevin Cycles. They want to be part of the community in the towns that they serve: Otley, Skipton, and Harrogate. Not just the cycling community, but the wider community, and are deeply embedded in several projects. One of these projects in Otley has staff members Ian Bell and Kev Scoular working with the local authority to develop a cycling skills route on the famous 'Otley Chevin' hillside, providing a vital community asset for this cycling mad town. When Ian and assistant manager Kev spoke about this project, their drive and vision was clear, as was their pride in being a part of the Otley cycling scene.

The Workshop (crucial techie stuff)

Okay, so you've got your dream bike and you need to get it serviced. This is always a minefield, as we all want to have the best of fettlers do the work; people who actually live and breath bikes. 

Being shown around their extensive service area by workshop manager Paul, there were bikes laid neatly in all corners, both new and retro, including a original Whyte Prince with quad 4 linkage, and an absolutely stunning Rourke road bike, with a paint job of true artistry, kitted out with Campag - my own fav groupset. Talking me through these two bikes, Paul and colleague Martin were clearly passionate cyclists, and we shared route snippets, including a trail that shall remain secret, that both Martin and I knew and jointly regard as a classic descent. For this knowledge alone, the Chevin service team are to be respected; and, looking over Paul's own 29er beast of a bike with fat tyres, it's clear that they love to ride. Definitely the type of guys that you'd want servicing your own bike then!

The Bike Porn (yes, gear folks)

For any shop this is a critical area of business, and Chevin have put some thought into this, with brands ranging from Trek, Whyte, Kinesis, Willier, Pinerello on the bikes, to Altura, Endura, Sealskinz and Giro on clothing. The store is neatly sectioned to make sure that everything is clearly visible, easy to access and that it all looks good and enticing - very enticing. What was good to see, was a neatly laid out area of the clothing section for ladies; after all, Lizzie comes from Otley and respect is due!  

In terms of the number of bikes, there were too many to count, across all genres on road and trail, including some techie looking electric full suspension bikes that certainly looked as though they can handle the trail down. They have an extensive fleet of demo bikes for you take and try, together with some of the best roads and mtb trails on their doorstep - always a good thing. We previously did lots of work with the guys at USE and Exposure lights some years ago, and it was good to see their lights being stocked by Chevin. Alongside a plephora of other accessories and the very neat and stylish Chevin kit itself, any self respecting cyclist could easily lose themselves in this superb cyclists heaven. 

The Future

Chevin Cycles at Otley have remained true to their roots, being a great local bike shop that seems to care. More than that, they're trying to keep their focus on the local community as they grow, sharing their obvious love for our great sport with the town, supporting local projects, the local cycling club and the racing series that Otley is a well established part of in Yorkshire.

Having visited it a number of times over the years, and more recently got into more in-depth conversations with the team, all that remains is to ride some trails with them - and that's already in the pipeline!