Size matters, at least when it comes to shops like this. One of my absolute favorite parts about traveling with a bicycle is visiting the local bike shop for whatever location is on my itinerary. During my recent trip to South Africa, I was delighted by their local shop, Woodstock Cycleworks. The first thing I noticed was the scale of this shop. It is massive, taking up half a city block, with giant, vaulted ceilings, exposed brick and wood trusses, with natural light so beautiful, any photographer would take great pleasure in shooting the interior.
Let’s back up a bit. Stan, who throws the Tour of Ara and the Karoobaix has used Woodstock Cycleworks as a hub for his races, allowing racers to build their bikes there, stock up on last-minute supplies and get caffeinated at the small coffee bar inside the shop, operated by Mr. Happy, a smiling, friendly barista. The owner of Woodstock Cycleworks, Nils, takes part in these events and is happy to be involved in Stan’s desert death marches… ;-)
That was my introduction to Woodstock Cycleworks. The day before the Karoobaix, racers, their families and all the volunteers descended upon the shop, packing their bikes and catching up with friends. Meanwhile, I walked around the space, with my jaw ajar, completely blown away by the collection of bikes. Perhaps that’s where Woodstock Cycleworks’ merit lies. Sure, they’ve got a more than capable service department, but hanging from the walls and ceiling, for that matter, is the history of South Africa framebuilding.
Little did I know but South Africa has a rich history of frame production, with companies like Peugeot, Alpina, Du Toit and LeJeune using these locations to build frames, alongside South Africa native builders Hansom and Peter Allan. In the past, Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler have thrown gallery events showcasing these framebuilders, prompting international attention to these craftsman.
Now, I didn’t get a count of all the frames, but I’d guess that 25% of the frames hanging up in the space have roots in South Africa. Whether it’s that French-made Peugeot, which was resprayed in the 90’s and redecalled as a Hansom – a common practice, as replacement decals were hard to come by – or it’s the straight-up Peter Allan with Nuovo Record hanging up, in pristine condition. A cycling community can’t benefit from vintage frames alone. Nils and his team, including Rolf, one of the Karoobaix’s volunteers work on everything from cruisers to carbon fiber road and mountain race bikes.
You could spend hours scouring this space – I should know, I did – and still miss plenty of details, which is what I hope I did, so it’ll give me something to look forward to when I go back next year. I documented two bikes, which we’ll look at later this week, but as you can see in these photos, there are plenty more to go!
Thanks to Nils and everyone at Woodstock Cycleworks for letting me poke around with my camera. If you find yourself in South Africa, do not miss Woodstock Cycleworks!
14 Searle St
Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915