Last updated in January 2019, adding three new shops and removing one which has sadly closed down.
There are a lot of bike shops selling touring bikes. There are far fewer for whom serving the needs of the touring cyclist is a speciality.
This is hardly surprising. Cycle touring is one of the tiniest niches in cycling. Touring bikes themselves are ugly and utilitarian. There’s far more money to be made flogging overpriced road racers and mountain bikes. For most UK bike shops, sticking a Dawes Galaxy in a corner somewhere is usually considered sufficient.
But there are a few establishments who have made a name for themselves as true touring specialists.
Sometimes this specialism is hidden behind a more general range of bikes, which is the bread and butter of any local bike shop. But you’ll also notice a rare few in the list below who have managed to survive by selling touring bikes exclusively.
The owners of these workshops and showrooms all tend to have one thing in common: they are (or were) cycle tourists themselves, and as a result, they know what a cycle tourist needs better than any big-brand shop assistant ever will.
They are also some of the few places you’ll be able to test-ride a range of touring bikes to see which one fits your needs, rather than just the one medium-sized Dawes Galaxy.
They are, in short, an indispensable friend to the touring cyclist.
Here, then, is a list of bike shops in the UK who partly or wholly specialise in touring bikes and associated cycle touring equipment. They’re listed in alphabetical order, with full contact details. It’s likely that you’ve never heard of most of them.
As for which is best, the truest answer I can give you is the one you can most easily get to in person. I’ve said it many times before: there’s no substitute for test-riding a bike before you buy it.
Bicycles By Design
Custom-fitted bicycle specialists and stockists for Tout Terrain and Co-Motion among others, also providing wheelbuilding and bespoke framebuilding services.
The John Rose Building,
Distributor for Tout Terrain in the UK, as well as several recumbent and trailer brands, with an emphasis on personalisation and individual service.
48 Lamb’s Conduit St
Co-operative London bike shop with an emphasis on a minimal selection of ultra-reliable bicycles. Test-rides and care & attention compulsory.
296-298 Brixton Road
Bespoke bicycle specialists in London with a selection of touring frames, including their classic Heritage steel frameset.
49-53 Gray’s Inn Road
True touring experts, stocking Surly and Salsa bikes and framesets (among others) and providing custom assembly services.
2 Bishopthorpe Road
One of the few UK dealers for Koga and Van Nicholas touring bikes, as well as other touring brands, and stocking a great selection of tandems and trailers.
20/22 High Street
Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative
Retailers of several brands of touring bike, including Ridgeback and Genesis. They also used to make their own line of tourers and consequently have first-hand knowledge of this niche.
8 Alvanley Terrace
Edinburgh EH9 1DU
(5 other stores across northern England & Scotland)
Supplying a range of bikes including tourers from Dawes and Ridgeback. John also provides custom bike building and wheelbuilding services.
146a Lee Lane
Run by highly experienced cycle tourers, supplying stock bikes, custom assembly services and their own line of touring bikes and frames, as well as a huge range of luggage and accessories.
Hidden behind the general range of popular bikes lies the well-respected Hewitt Cheviot touring frameset and complete bike range. Also look out for their Surly framesets and bike building services.
17-19 Preston Road
Relatively new shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter run by experienced cyclists with a big emphasis on utility and touring.
23 Hilton Street
Dealers for British cycle touring brands Dawes, Ridgeback and Carradice; also custom builders of touring bicycles.
39 Bridge Street
Oxford Bike Works
Independent Oxfordshire-based builder of custom touring bikes, including in-person workshop fitting sessions. (I helped Richard design his flagship expedition model.)
Located inside a Victorian railway station building and with a cafe on site, Pilgrim build their own range of classic British tourers, as well as being dealers for Dawes, Surly and Sabbath bikes.
The Old Booking Hall,
Box Hill & Westhumble Station
SJS Cycles are the sole UK dealer for Thorn touring and expedition bicycles. They no longer have a physical shopfront, so consultations regarding complete bikes are by appointment only (though you can walk in and they’ll do their best to help).
91-93 St John Street
The north’s best-established specialists in cycle touring equipment for over 30 years.
48A Camwal Road
Small-scale touring bike builder established in 2014, selling a range of touring & expedition bikes based on their own frame design, with plentiful custom build options.
18a Arthur Street
Long-running family business stocking Trek and Ridgeback touring bikes.
67 -73 Victoria Road
Stoke on Trent
Central Bristol bike shop selling bikes based on its own range of framesets, including drop-bar road touring bikes, each of which is built to order and fully customisable.
(Second location on Brick Lane, London.)
Do you know of any UK touring bike specialists not listed here? Please let us know in the comments – such shops are hard to come by.