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Riding along the Isar River, it is fair to say that Germans are well-versed in the practicality of two wheels.
But at the same time as being a way of commuting to work, school, and kindergarten, Munich has recently adopted a much more sophisticated approach to road cycling, and bikedress is showing just how relevant it is for the city’s inhabitants.
More than just a transaction point for a beautifully curated selection of bikes and kit, bikedress works on a multitude of planes, all of which depart from founder Heiko’s firm belief in both style and the importance of enjoyment. Established in its current, easy-to-reach location in 2011, it represents Heiko’s mindset and is reflected in the store’s cosy surroundings: there’s an adjacent cafe known as Monaco Velo Club Cafe with delectable coffee and cakes, big screens broadcasting races, a pavement ice cream stall with locally produced gelato from an Italian amico, plus lockers for personal belongings when using the shop as your ride base (which, unsurprisingly, many do).
For almost seven years bikedress has been offering Munich residents the chance to peruse the finest cycling gear and equipment, but Heiko is the first to admit that “just selling bike wear isn’t enough.” That’s why bikedress regularly teams up with brands for exclusive in-store events, stages frequent rides, arranges cycling trips abroad, and runs the shop’s annual “emphasis-on-the-sociable” Burschenrennen team race (which ASSOS will certainly be attending, come July).
With roots in mountain biking, Heiko really values the community that springs up around riding, gesturing around the cafe and his two-floored store. From premium all-weather performance kit and urban riding wear to hand-made, hand-polished bike bells and artisanal endurance nutrition from Colombia, Heiko has curated an eclectic mix of goods that caters to every rider. It’s about as far removed from a purely sales-focused list of what you might need on a bike. It’s about cycling because you love it, rather than purely its functionality.
On the walls are many iconic jerseys — many of which are signed — and beautiful frames from bygone eras. Heiko is a good talker and knows his riding history. There’s an aptitude for balance on display in bikedress in how it positions heritage and technology alongside each other, marrying achingly high-tech advancements with sublime vintage pieces, so that each generation — whether you’re a greying Sunday club rider or an aspiring young junior — feels like it’s relevant.
A workshop, located in the shop’s back courtyard, is the latest expansion to bikedress, a marked step in the other direction to his forward-facing pavement ice cream stall, of which he’s particularly proud.
While we’re there, we witness the handover of an OPEN U.P.P.E.R, a hand-spec’d build jointly decided upon by Heiko and his customer. It’s a tender moment to observe, a physical moment shared between retailer and customer. Online sales of bikes simply can’t convey the same emotion. “When I sell a bike they’ll always get a bike fitting too,” says Heiko, who goes on to wax lyrical about potential routes for the rider.
Nothing groundbreaking but everything just right is one way to sum up bikedress. And it’s clear that Munichers simply gravitate toward this store.
Where to ride:
“You wouldn’t believe how great it is to ride out from here; it’s just 20 metres to the river, then 4km to the zoo. Two traffic lights later then you’re in the countryside. In fact, just 20–25km into the ride you’ll see the Alps.”
Where to Eat:
Wirtshaus in der Au— Heiko describes this place as “typically Bavarian but very, very good.” He’d go for the dumplings.
Where to Sleep:
The Flushing Meadows Hotel— a sophisticated Munich hotel just over the river from bikedress that reflects the same convivial spirit and style. Not surprising given the same architect designed bikedress’ welcoming cafe.
Some Insider Tips:
Great Italian coffee and ice cream can always be found in the Monaco Velo Club Cafe. This is always worth a stop after the ride. The club also organizes a lot of group rides. www.monacoveloclub.de
During summertime you can swim in the Isar River, as the banks of the “Isarauen” are just 50m away from the shop. People swarm here in the thousands during the summer.
The Biergarten of choice: http://waldwirtschaft.de
An artisanal brewery located near bikedress with a small Biergarten and restaurant: http://www.giesinger-braeu.de