Coffee and cycling have always gone hand in hand; a caffeine hit halfway through a long ride saves many a pedal-weary biker – and the cycle cafe trend shows no sign of slowing down.
Whether you need your bike fixed, your kit upgraded or your craving for cake and caffeine satisfied, these European cycle cafes will have you refueled and road ready in no time.
Happiness juiced: Vélocité Cafe, Lisbon
This award-winning hangout has a philosophy: ‘Happiness cannot be bought – but you can buy a bicycle, which is close enough’. Vélocité Cafe and bike shop (velocitecafe.com) powered into Lisbon in 2012 with the intention of uniting good food and good cycling. Natural juices, strawberry lemonade and Portuguese craft beers all help put a smile on your face, and if you come by bike you can claim a 10% discount on your food. There are expert mechanics on hand to fix any problems and you can rent a bike cheaply too.
Partying and pedalling: Handlebar Cafe, Athens
Located in a back street in Psyrri, Athens, this cycle cafe spins more than wheels – its music nights can host up to 400 music fans as well as live bands. But it’s also an authentic biking hangout; next door, Vicious Cycles (vca.gr) provides the capital with fixed-gear urban bikes and accessories, including their own Greek-made bicycles. Handlebar (facebook.com/TheHandlebarAthens) is owned by Brit Gareth Jones whose vision is to provide wholesome food (vegans are well catered for), cheap beer and a relaxed environment for the city’s cyclists. They also do wondrous things with eggs.
Catalan tour de force: La Fabrica, Girona
Where else can you order a latte from a Tour de France cyclist? La Fabrica (lafabrica.cc), one of Europe’s newest cycle cafes, has a top sporting pedigree. Owned and run by professional cyclist Christian Meier and his wife Amber, the renovated carpenter’s shop in Girona is a cross between a hangout and a gallery. A communal table encourages chat, beans are roasted locally and wholesome snacks abound (try the honey cake). You can wear your cleats inside but the local crowd prefer the terrace seats.
Sustainable cycling: Upcycle, Milan
Milan’s Upcycle (upcyclecafe.it) is a former abandoned garage, said to be inspired by London’s original and famous cycle cafe Look Mum No Hands! You can watch live events on the big screen, get your bike repaired, or pick up training and information on bike maintenance. Upcycle strives to help create a more livable city, offering an informal space for meetings and discussions on trips, cyclists’ rights, memorable experiences and sustainable lifestyles.
Northern bike shed: Pop Up Bikes, Manchester
While some cycle cafes are all about posing, this one is more about the nuts and bolts of bikes. Tucked away under the arches at Manchester’s Deansgate, you can smell the WD40 as you walk in. Pop Up Bikes (popupbikes.co.uk) is a quirky hangar where you can get your bike repaired while you have a cheese toastie or talk sport with its owner. Squishy sofas are set on fake grass, perhaps to make the mountain bikers feel at home. If you want to leave your bike there indefinitely you can; there’s space for 100.
The couriers’ choice: Keirin Cycle Culture Cafe, Berlin
The local bike delivery messengers often gather in this busy one-stop shop for serious cyclists. With 16 years of experience, the resident mechanic can take care of your broken spokes while you enjoy a caffeine hit and a chill. Keirin Cycle Culture Cafe (keirinberlin.de) is run by two former cycle couriers who have experience of biking in Berlin, London and New York. As well as good coffee and a great vibe, they also offer a wide selection of accessories and some classy vintage bikes.
French boutique chic: Steel, Paris
A side street in Oberkampf in the city’s 11th arrondissement hosts Steel (shop.steelmagazine.fr/82-cafe): a hub of freshly brewed coffee, sandwiches and cakes, and a boutique selling specialized performance gear. The organisation started out as a style magazine and its attention to detail and design values infuse everything from the decor to the food. Investment into cycling infrastructure has improved the lot of cyclists in Paris and many regularly use the café as a departure point for rides. The coffee is good but evidence suggests it’s ultimately about the clothes. We’re not sure how they feel about sweaty shorts...
Hipster hangout: Rapha Cycle Club, Amsterdam
Clothing and coffee are at the heart of this fashionable chain. The Rapha brand of road biking shop-cafe combos has slowly spread around the world from London to San Francisco and Tokyo. Amsterdam’s Rapha Cycle Club (rapha.cc/clubs/rapha-cycle-club-amsterdam) thinks of itself as a club rather than a cafe, and you’ll feel part of a community gathered to swap stories and advice. Catch live racing on giant screens or join weekly rides; it’s a struggle for cyclists to gather on the street in peak season but they manage. The barista does latte art; if you're feeling bold, ask him to draw a puncture repair kit!
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