The art of spotting “the one”

If there is one thing that gives Alex Bindon, of The Hackney Peddler, goose bumps, it is frames finished with an insane amount of detail.

Text: Silje Strømmen
Photos: Mari Oshaug

If you have a soft spot for nice classical frames, The Hackney Peddler is the place to go. Hackney is often described as the cycling capital of London. With no tube stations around, and Hackney being an expensive borough to live in, one tends to depend on bikes in order to get from A to B. With that in mind, The Hackney Peddler has a simple aim “more bikes for more people”. Although they will look after bikes that need some attention, their real skill is fine vintage frames and bikes that they save, fix and sell on.

Prior to opening, The Hackney Peddler in 2012, Alex Bindon had been fixing up vintage bikes and driving up from Gloucester (where he at the time was living with his parents) to London every fourth night with a van full of bikes, staying with friends and selling bikes on gumtree.

“I got left off a job here in London and moved back with my parents in Gloucester. My mom is an antiques dealer and I started helping out, going with her to antique fairs. It was at one of these fairs that I saw an old race bike and negotiated with the guy and got it for about 30 quid”, Alex says.

A week later he sold it on eBay for a 130 pounds.

“So I thought ok, I can make something out of this”. It literally went on from there. I sold one bike, bought and sold two, and bit-by-bit I learned how to fix bikes. After selling bikes on Gumtree for a while, I realised that if I could find a cheap workshop and a place to stay in London I could move back. And that is when I found this place”, Alex continues.

In the summer of 2012 he rented a small corner of the arch that today is filled from floor to roof with vintage frames. The shop as it is now today, just around the corner from the arch, opened in December that same year.

The frames at The Hackney Peddler come from all over Europe, and especially Belgium, The Netherlands and southern France, in addition to “a couple of guys up North”. Alex regularly frequents bike jumbles and antique fairs, does trading “here and there” and “occasionally get the van and go stealing”, he says laughing.

Over the last few years Alex has moved up from the basic ralleys and jumbles, something the arch, which conveys into storage, is proof of. Here you can find frames made by master builders, such as Colnago, Moser and Eddy Merckx. Frames that you can look at and say “that has been made with a nice finish and nice details”.

“The thing I like most about vintage frames is the quality in the craftsmanship. A lot of things today are mass-produced and not built to last, whilst classic frames are hand-made by people who love the artform”, Alex explains.

If there is one thing that gives him goose bumps, it is frames that have been finished with an insane amount of detail. Like the frame he picked up from a dealer after an Eroica last year:

“All the components were really high-end, but kind of missmatched. We believe that it was built for Tour de France back in the 70’s and that it is from the B-car workshop in Paris. By the details you can see that is has been put together by a master builder. It is in the fine details you can tell that someone has put a lot of time and effort into a frame. Everything is well considered”, Alex says admitting that digging into the history of a frame is part of the fun of working with vintage frames.

“A frame, like this one, can tell a history. It is quite unique, and that is what I like about it”.