“As an ethos, we’re not a performance bike store,” says Chris Wright, co-owner and designer of À Bloc, a new bicycle store cum gallery that serves coffee too. “We’re trying to remind people that cycling is about having fun with your friends and not about taking it all too seriously.” He and builder Tony McPeake have done this by transforming the space that was Great Dane Furniture on Commercial Road in Prahran into a sleek, whitewashed temple of bicycle sociability, without the intimidation. “You go out on a ride for two hours and you just click with people,” Wright explains of cycling. “It’s where the clubhouse idea comes from. It’s the community feeling and we’re putting it into a store.”
Wright and McPeake came together working at another bike shop and with their combined powers of design and construction, À Bloc seemed like a natural collaboration. McPeake had worked extensively in retail fitting so he handled the nuts and bolts, while Wright (also of Honn Projects) directed the look and the feel.
The front of À Bloc is dedicated to serving coffee (by Five Senses) and cakes. Then comes the bicycle showroom floor in the middle, where two rows of Colnago and Ridley bikes neighbour a workshop offering comprehensive service facilities, with Brad Lawlor of Velotech Services at the helm. Up the back is an open gallery space, featuring an exhibition of cycling-themed photography, rotated every six weeks.
“I’m actually most excited about the gallery”, says Wright. “That gives people a no-pressure reason to come in and feel inspired, have a chat and grab a coffee. But don’t get me wrong,” he adds. “We sell all the gadgets too.”
À Bloc Bicycle Shop
116 Commercial Road, Prahran
(03) 9510 4238
Mon to Fri 10am-6pm
Sat and Sun 10am-4pm