'Community hub': New bike shop opened by keen cyclists

Darren Armstrong and Andy Chapman

Darren Armstrong (l) from Romford launched bike shop Allez Allez with Upminster-based Andy Chapman (r) - Credit: Darren Armstrong

Two Havering friends have opened a new bike workshop and café in Ongar. 

Darren Armstrong, from Romford, launched Allez Allez three weeks ago with Andy Chapman, who lives in Upminster. 

The duo have known each other for over 20 years, and decided to work on the venture together to create a "cycling community hub" in the area. 

Allez Allez

The bike shop is on Ongar High Street in Essex - Credit: Darren Armstrong

Darren explained: “We want this to be a place for people to meet, bring their bikes, talk to each other. 

“Somewhere to immerse themselves in the world of cycling. 

“It’s for all types of cyclists - older people, families, and people who are just looking for more information about how to get started.” 

The business partners met in the late 1990s at former Hornchurch bar Lloyds No.1, where Andy worked as a barman and Darren as a DJ. 

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Darren said they became friends and started cycling together, even doing a charity bike ride from Hackney to Southend. 

“We both caught the cycling bug,” he said. 

Darren Armstrong cafe

The shop offers hot drinks and snacks - Credit: Darren Armstrong

They chose to open Allez Allez on Ongar High Street because they felt it was already popular with cyclists. 

Darren added: “We cycled through here so often, and realised it’s just a great place to explore. 

“People come here at weekends for long fitness cycles, or a family day out with the kids. 

“It’s such a beautiful spot, so it just made sense.” 

allez allez bikeshop

Allez Allez fixes bikes and makes bespoke models for customers - Credit: Darren Armstrong

The friends plan to provide bike maintenance, offer advice to cyclists and even build custom models for customers. 

“We opened the shop after friends kept coming to us asking if we could make them bespoke bikes,” Darren explained. 

“We realised we could make a business out of it, and help more people find the right bike for them, tailoring parts to their needs.” 

There will also be a coffee shop selling smoothies, paninis and health bars in the garden behind the shop. 

lawn

Visitors can enjoy refreshments outside on the lawn - Credit: Darren Armstrong

The co-owner added: “People from the local area and cyclists passing through can stop off and enjoy a relaxing coffee away from the main road. 

“There are lots of lovely cafes around here, but they’re not specifically aimed at cyclists - they don’t have bike racks or offer advice.” 

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