Tim Wilkey worked in 4 bike shops shops, as a media manager for Bike Radar and as a messenger before he opened Forever Pedalling two and a half years ago. He went cycle touring and started a blog, aptly named Forever Pedalling, the blog continued when he got back to Bristol, the city in which he grew up. He made a few t-shirts and stickers with graphics inspired by the skate and surf scene which were popular. All of this happened at a stage in life where he wanted his own project and a creative outlet and so Forever Pedalling was launched in a small shop in East Bristol.
It's not a bike shop but a brand, an identity and something that people can be part of and connected to, a bicycle lifestyle brand thats focused around rides, races, events and people. Forever Pedalling has become much more than just a shop in the Bristol scene, it's reinvigorated a stagnant cycling culture and brought a younger audience into the sport around the South West city.
"One of the aim's for the future is to build a strong and successful race team that represent the brand in races across the country."
The Bristol scene has emerged massively in the past few years with the growth of the Bristol GP becoming a premier calendar event, Full Court Press speciality coffee shop has become the main post and pre ride hangout and the Spoke and Stringer restaurant recently worked with Tim to host the first Pedal festival with a series of talks, rides and exhibitions.
The shop layout and brand continues to be inspired by the skate scene and American cycling culture, companies like San Francisco's Mash and the Team Dream Bicycling Team and brands like Supreme with their one off, limited edition product runs. "Buying the same jersey that hundreds of other people are wearing isn't what you want, having a limited run of just 10 t-shirts, that are recognisable but gone when there're gone is special, with simplicity and quality over quantity".
The workshop is a new addition to the space and has taken off amongst his customers because of his knowledge and quick repair turnaround time, high end road bike repairs is something he's keen to develop further.
There are a number of small independent brands producing great products in and around Bristol including Bristol Butt'r and independent bicycle luggage manufacturers Naffsacks and Mack Workshop, who I met earlier in the year at Tim's Bespoked Bags exhibition that ran on the same weekend as the Bespoked handmade bicycle show.
"To be the Supreme of the cycling industry would have to be the ultimate goal"
Tim stocks a carefully chosen range of unique and often hard to find products from specific brands as well as local products and his own range. As He says, he's still figuring it out but isn't short of ideas and is moving towards creating a larger and larger own brand product range.
"It's not really about selling or providing things that people need but that they want, products that are desirable, interesting and a bit niche by independent companies across the world that are creating beautiful and functional things. People will buy products they need from Wiggle or Chain Reaction" - something we're all guilty of.
"The bike industry is a bit behind and backwards when compared to other sports such as skateboarding and I wanted to push forward and attract a younger audience."
Tim's personal touch is what makes the shop so special and unique, it's something you want to be part of.
Along with a group of friends, Tim also started Das Rad Klub - originally an anti cycling club, something different and a breakaway from the traditional cycling clubs of Bristol, they now run multiple group rides each week.
A Das Rad Klub fork design created by local custom paint workshop Colourburn Studio on display.
"Going to Evans Cycles doesn’t inspire you to ride a bike, its dull"
"Its about being individual and independent while connecting people and creating somewhere to hang out because cycling's ultimately an individual sport but it brings people together and has a strong culture here in Bristol"
There's an array of amazing product designs and graphics tucked away in sketchbooks with bold colours and combinations in the pipeline.
While I was photographing the shop a van pulled up with the biggest FOR RENT sign you've ever seen, indiscreetly revealing to me Tim's plan to move out of the shop at the end of his lease around Christmas time, leading him to consider the future of Forever Pedalling. He had an open mind at what it could be but there's recently been a huge development in that he found an amazing warehouse space quite near the old shop. He's partnered with a new cycling cafe called 'Camber' run by Andy Mathews along with ColourBurn Studios custom paint workshop. Together they will form 'Business As Usual' - a new hub for cycling in Bristol. It's a development I'm so stoked about and can't wait to visit.
They're in need of some help with funding the fit out of the amazing new space and so have set up a Crowdfunder page, I'm sure any donations would be massively appreciated by them.