Local Bike Shops: Twenty3c

Taking to Twenty3c bike shop owner Ceri Dipple about her support of a new team in 2017, Team OnForm and their Bianchi worldtour quality bikes

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Local Bike Shops: Twenty3c

In Stony Stratford, a stones throw from Milton Keynes, is a local bike shop that has been around for nearly ten years, Ceri Dipple’s Twenty3c. During those years, not only has it supported VeloUK, but also supported its own team and in 2017, the OnForm team saw a great deal of success on their Bianchi bikes from Twenty3c.

The shop has always been one to put back into the sport and their support of VeloUK and Team OnForm are just two examples of many a good reason why those in the sport of cycling should support the shop. In recent years, Twenty3c went from a multi brand shop to one concentrating on the classic Italian marque of Bianchi and that has been a success Ceri explained when I went to see her on Friday.

For anyone who is a Bianchi fan or just likes great bikes, Twenty3c is a mecca for Bianchi bikes and Bianchi merchandising including watches, bottles, clothing and much more.

Ceri explained how that the shop, which has a great local ‘fan’ base too from the many clubs in the area, has customers travel from far and wide to look at and/or pick up their bikes. One of the most notable things she mentioned was how the shop offers their customers that special personal service like a one-on-one demo day and it doesn’t get better than that. “There is a lot to be said about riding a bike before purchasing it” Ceri says when chatting about the important differences between buying online and going to a shop.

For me, if asked would I buy a car online without seeing, touching or driving it, the answer would be no. It’s a lot of money so why not take up that opportunity to ride that special purchase before taking it home to enjoy on your local roads.

Located in the high street of Stony Stratford which has a number of free long stay car parks close (walking distance) by, the shop is an award winning coffee shop as well and I have to say, the hot chocolate was the best I have had anywhere and just want I needed after a cold night in the camper!

Prior to the chat with Ceri, I was able to look at all the ‘celeste Bianchi’s, a brand I do love as much as other Italian brands like Colnago and that included the OnForm team bike complete with its colourful handlebar tape!

“From a sponsors perspective, it isn’t all about results but how they represent themselves, the team and the sponsors and that is much more valuable than a result on paper. We just want them to enjoy themselves too as it is supposed to be fun.”

“After some serious consideration, the opportunity to get involved with the team was too good to pass up” Ceri says before adding “it was quite an exciting project on paper and looking back at 2017, it has been a very good year”.

Having had the stress of being a team owner before on tight budgets and big racing programmes, Ceri admits being more in the background was ‘brilliant’!

“It was very time consuming being the title sponsor of a team and involved on the day-to-day running of a team and the guys that do it, massive respect for them. You can get very little thanks and there is a huge amount of work logistically and financially as well.”

“It was something we gave a lot of thought to, whether or not we got involved with a team again but I think the level of involvement has been good in that it wasn’t a level that would distract us from the day-to-day running of the business.”

Ceri, who has raced herself in the past, admits it was especially good to see the girls in Team Onform do well. “That level of success wasn’t expected for a new team but they got on well as a team, worked as a team and it was good to witness that and to be a part of it; even better.”

“It was what I hesitated most with” she says. “Anyone who works with a team is working really hard to give riders the opportunity to race and that isn’t always appreciated by riders often because they are very young, very driven and have one focus – to do well in their sport. This team though hasn’t been about what kit every rider gets. It’s been about the support that the riders get so every rider who wanted to be in the team wasn’t joining for what kit they got but for the opportunity to race in a team that would provide them with the infrastructure and support that they wouldn’t have had, had they not been in the team. Simon (Howes) has a great ethos and works ridiculously hard for them all, along with a great support team”.

Asked what bikes they were riding, Ceri replied “the majority of them were riding Oltre XR4’s –Bianchi’s top race bike and what Lotto JumboNL race on.” It is a bike that is WorldTour quality but there are also many other Bianchi models at Twenty3c as well to suit different budgets.

With each model, comes different technologies that those in the store like Ceri can talk a customer through. Ceri for example talked about a new model in 2017 which Julie Erskine (winner of the Curlew Cup) was riding in the latter part of the season, the Aria. There are two Aria’s, one with rim brakes and one with disc brakes and the bike price is £2,250 for the whole bike.

“The Aria has been very well received” Ceri added, the bike which comes with Campagnolo Centaur (very nice indeed having used that says me), “and is very much a race bike.”

Going back to the team OnForm Bianchi’s, Ceri explained that the spec for the team bikes carried on the rider’s preference although they did have to have pink handlebar tape! That says Ceri was more about being able to ID their riders in the peloton during a race and it worked well even if some of the riders didn’t quite agree with it! “

Looking ahead to 2018, and whether there is pressure on the team to come up with the same level of results they did in 2017, Ceri replied that the answer was no from her perspective even though the riders themselves may be wanting to better their results next season.

“From a sponsors perspective, it isn’t all about results but how they represent themselves, the team and the sponsors and that is much more valuable than a result on paper. We just want them to enjoy themselves too as it is supposed to be fun.”

Whilst discussing the publicity the shop brand got from the team racing, Ceri explained how the shop name on the team’s ‘easyup’ saw it get onto TV at times and gave them some welcome national coverage but then admitted that as a LBS (Local Bike Shop), most of the business is still hands on local custom.

“People do travel to us to purchase bikes but the service an LBS provides is that hands on service rather than shifting boxes because we cannot always compete on price. But what we can do is look after customers, make sure they get the right product and it’s fitted correctly and working properly as well as give them advice.”

“If it’s an accessory, we can provide the advice to make sure they get what they are looking for. There isn’t the same interaction with an online retailer that there is between a local bike shop and its customers.”

“When we get people in here looking for a specific item, the description doesn’t always relate at all to the product they ultimately need because they don’t necessarily know accurately what they need. It’s why I think there will always be a place for a local bike shop.”

The connection between Twenty3c and the local rider community exists on many levels from them calling in for a coffee and cake to the monthly shop rides to the shop offering workshop services. As bikes get more complicated to maintain; and people’s time gets less and less; the workshop is certainly something that the LBS has that can provide those that race or just ride with an invaluable service.”

It’s one thing to know how to mend a puncture, but something else to adjust the Di2 equipment on a modern bike, making sure a headset is in the right way or getting a wheel running true and fast. The experience of people like Ceri who have been involved with bikes all their lives as bikes themselves have evolved, is an invaluable source of help to the cycling community. We all have it in our own areas of expertise and the local bike shop has it in abundance.

Thank you to Ceri for the chat, amazing hot chocolate and the chance to look at all the amazing Bianchi bikes and merchandise. For some one as old school as I am, looking up to Bianchi heros such as legendary racer Felice Gimondi (Tour de France and Giro winner among many things), seeing so much ‘celeste’ was a great way to spend a morning!

Check out the Twenty3c website for a flavour of what you can see in the Twenty3c shop in Stony Stratford including a catalogue of the Bianchi bikes with 2018 models to be added soon.

 

 

 

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