May 5th saw the third edition of English Cycle Style take place in Berlin among a crowd of thirsty gin enthusiasts with an interest in neo-traditional cycling products. The event was held at Pret-a-Velo, the new project from longtime Brooks proselytizer and former part-time academic, Dr. Ulrich Gries.
It was lo eight years ago when I first noticed a shop selling Holland-style bikes that seemed always to be shut. Years went by and the shop remained, though to my observation, rarely with doors open for business. This intrigued me, not because I was in the market for a bike, but because like most people, I have a general interest in business concepts that require little work and still pay the rent.
Over time I noticed that the shop was beginning to have what are considered to be somewhat normal opening hours, well for Berlin anyway (noonish-sixish), and even managed to erect a sign, which read “Zweitrad”. Still not in the market for a piece of Dutch cycling antiquity, I pedaled on.
The Barbican hanging around at Pret-a-Velo
Years later, when great fortune brought me to Brooks I came to find out the story behind this enigmatic location. I learned that Dr. Gries was in fact a doctor of philosophy, and had been dividing his time between his unique bike shop, and forming the minds of his students at a university in Northern Germany. Hence why he was so often away, and where the “Dr.” comes from.
Eventually his shop won out over his teaching aspirations, or rather the demands from his customers forced him to leave the leafy environs of the campus for the even leafier environs of Prenzlauer Berg. And a happy event that was for the world of bicycle retailing, and possibly also for Dr. Gries himself.
Designs from Oliver Sinz at Pret-a-Velo
Dr. Gries, far before many, if not most, of his contemporaries, understood that it was possible to run a shop based solely on the tastes of the shop’s proprietor. In his case, this meant beautiful steel creations from Europe meant to be pedaled leisurely, and accessories to match.
Now Dr. Gries is back with a new concept, this time across the street. He has teamed up with local tailoring wizard Oliver Sinz to further allow his debonair attitude space to blossom. He has constructed a harmonious setting from which the visitor can relax and reflect upon one’s own offensive wardrobe or mode of transportation, and then have the dignity and location to do something about it.
Pret-a-Velo is a celebration of cycling elegance. And, if you are on the lookout for that type of thing, it is now open weekly, featuring cycles from Pashley and Cooper, among many number of other bikes and accessories for the elegant among us. Brooks Cycle Bags included, of course.
Apropos English Cycle Style – Many thanks to Uli, Sabine, and the friendly mechanics for all their hard work making a truly pleasant evening for the invited guests, I did not know animal fat on bread could taste so good, and I do hope to find out where you purchase yours.
Thanks also to Hendrick’s Gin for once again ensuring that cycling home was not an option, and event partners Pashley, Cooper, Condor, Alex Moulton, and Brompton for providing the lovely bicycles.
A special thanks to Dave from Pashley who brought his wife Debbie all the way from England, and I apologize, but the gorgeous photos I made of you both came out blurry.
Well, so goes a gin-sponsered event.
Pret-a-Velo Fehbellinerstr. 17 10119 Berlin