Meet the owners
Biking enthusiast Glen Todd left his career in IT to takeover Barton Bicycles on King Street – and now, having discovered a passion for bike restoration – he hasn’t looked back since
When did you take the reins of Barton Bicycles?
About five years ago and my Dad owned the business prior to that. He was ready to retire – and I was at a point in my life where I wanted a complete change so I thought I’d give it a go! My background is in IT, so it was a total change of career. The premises have been a bike shop for many years, previously as King Street Cycles and we have customers who have been coming to the same shop for over 20 years.
How long have you been interested in cycling?
Ever since I was a kid when I had my first BMX! I’ve always liked to take bikes apart and put them back together again. I’m that way inclined I think, because again with IT, I was intrigued to discover how computers worked, so would strip them down and rebuild them.
What brands do you stock?
We do everything from traditional English and drop handlebar bikes to more modern hybrids, mountain bikes and electric bikes; we try to offer as much variety as we can. We like dealing with companies that stock Dawes Cycles and Claud Butler – and we’ve also taken on some of the older brands like Elswick, which are the make of a lot of the vintage bikes you see around Cambridge.
We are excited to be working with a brand of electric bikes called Axon Rides. They are folding bikes, compact and quite light, with a unique design. We are the only dealer in Cambridge to stock them.
Alongside selling bikes, what services do you offer?
We are a traditional Cambridge bike shop, so generally we can deal with most issues. We carry out general repairs, normal servicing and supply accessories such as panniers and lights. I’d say 99 per cent of the time we can offer same day repairs. We also do a lot of second hand and refurbished bikes and I particularly enjoy the restoration of old bikes.
Can you tell us about some of the bikes you’ve restored?
We had one bike that was a 1920s Raleigh, which a man brought in; it had been his grandfather’s bike so had a lot of sentimental value. He explained that during the war, because metals were rare, they had to get a licence to buy a bicycle and they still had the original licence for this one. So, we got the rust blasted away, powder coated it, then repainted it. The grandson was so pleased with the finished result. I find the restorations very rewarding. Another customer came to collect a bike we had restored and was so taken aback she said ‘wow, you’re like The Repair Shop on TV’, which was nice to hear!
What are the benefits of a preloved bike?
Cambridge is unique – there are so many old bikes around, which are often overlooked; maybe a student just wants
a rusty old bike to get around. But when they’re restored, blasted, repainted and put back together, some of them look better than the bikes that are around today- they’re as good as new and usually have another 50 years’ life in them.
What type of customers do you attract?
We get a lot of students because of Cambridge being a university town; they all want the initial low-cost bike but you have to be there to help them through their years here as they don’t tend to look after them very well! Then you’ve got commuters who work in Cambridge, and enthusiasts, who might want a mountain or road bike for weekend trips.
We’ve got a lot of regular customers who come back to us throughout the year, who are happy and appreciative, so will send letters and cards, which is lovely. That, to me, means I am doing something right!
What do you love about your job now?
It’s such a positive job! I can only compare it to IT as that’s what I did for pretty much all my career beforehand. IT is about trying to help people and get things working but it can be quite negative because people get so frustrated, but in the world of cycling, people are generally so happy and appreciative of what you’re doing, so it’s such a nice experience – positive all day long!
Barton Bicycles is at 82 King Street, Cambridge. Find out more at bartonbicycles.co.uk
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