Ben Hillier

316903_183272318408504_6210702_nAfter 25 years in the financial markets I finally plucked up the courage to follow my heart instead of my wallet and do something I actually enjoy. I’ve been a keen club rider and age group triathlete for over 10 years with an unhealthy obsession for grease, oil, accurate torque settings, clean cable routing, perfect TIG welded beads and all sorts of other slightly sad preoccupations.
Bike fitting became a particular fetish of mine after an annoying back injury caused by a mountain bike tumble. This caused discomfort on the bike which was ruining my fun and threatening to rob me of my toys. I was in a truly horrendous predicament.

I decided to throw some cash at the problem and did the rounds of the high end bike fitting establishments in London and ended up, well, poorer and in even more discomfort. Worse still, after being prodded, stretched, measured, manipulated, condescended to by ex “pro’s” (using the term “pro” extremely loosely), smothered in velcro dots and having my feedback completely dismissed, I found myself with an upturned stem with a huge stack of spacers, oh, and a pair of custom made insoles that cost more than my wheels. Now, whilst I am all for aesthetics and tradition and beauty in all things bike related, I could have (possibly) lived with this hideous stem configuration if it had actually made things better. It didn’t. In fact I now had numb hands and no feeling in the nether regions to go with my back spasms.

I was pissed off. My bikes were gathering dust (metaphorically anyway as my bikes and dust have never aquatinted themselves – that’s another obsession that we will put to one side for now) and I had parted with significant sums of cash to be in more discomfort – cash that could have been spent on a new bottom bracket tool.

After years of obsessive tinkering and endless research I finally found my bike position and learnt a huge amount in the process. My bike addiction was saved. I learnt that most bike fitters don’t really like bike fitting. Most bike fitters like selling bikes (or talking about their mediocre racing history – at least we shared that experience) and bike fitting to them is just a means to that end. We sell bikes here too of course but that is not the objective of the fit. After one particularly expensive and long winded fit at a well known west-end bike fitting specialist, I was informed that my bike was completely the wrong size for me and I needed a custom frame which by lucky coincidence they could provide. I declined – something about the back pain, numb hands and snake oil approach put me off. The suggested frame would have been completely unridable for me now and would perhaps have been the only bike I have ever owned that would have been permitted to get mildly dusty. A near miss and a pretty distasteful experience all round.

Enough of this negativity. I met Pat in 2009 when I enlisted his expertise to prepare me for the following years Etape du Tour. Ironically we had both been similarly unimpressed with bike fits at the aforementioned specialist and we began hatching our plan for DoE. It took some time to come to fruition but circumstances fell in to place late last year and here we are. We love riding, we love training and we love bikes. We sat down and thought about the kind of place we would like to go to as consumers and set about to create that environment. First on the list was bike fit. The GURU is the perfect tool for the job but it’s just a tool and the real skill is with the fitter. We are unashamedly confident about our bike fit technique and can’t wait to show you our chops. Secondly was product selection. All our bikes, wheels and other components are products that we ride, race on, and believe in. There is nothing here that we don’t use ourselves with the possible exception of some of the women’s bib shorts although I suspect Pat may wear them under his jeans. Then comes training. Pat has been a successful road and triathlon coach for over 10 years and that business will continue and expand here at DoE. We have all the latest power training tools and metabolic testing equipment in our pain cave and hope to expand soon into group classes. Lastly is servicing and repair. I have never found anywhere that I trust enough to work on my bikes so I had to start my own workshop!

It’s an exciting time for us and I feel very lucky to be able do this for a living. Come and hang out with us on Fulham Road, watch some bike racing on the big screen, have some coffee, check out our bikes, talk about ceramic bearings and meet Frank the shop labrador. No snake oil here, just our favourite chain lube and chamois cream!