One of the great things about covering bike racing in South America is that it gives you the opportunity to visit some great cities as well. And after the recent Vuelta Ciclista San Juan in the western province of Argentina, a stopover in Buenos Aires seemed only fitting.
Buenos Aires of course is a mammoth, sprawling city. With a population of over 15 million, Buenos Aires is not exactly friendly to logging long road miles. Sure, current UAE-Team Emirates pro Maximiliano Richeze may claim he hails from Buenos Aires, but really he lives more than 20 kilometers from the center. No, here in BA urban cycling is king, in all of its many manifestations.
Over the past 25 years, the near northern neighborhood of Palermo has traditionally been one of the city’s trend-setting areas, and it comes as no surprise that it is home to numerous bikes original bike shops. During my recent stop in Buenos Aires, Palermo offered us a good look at the city’s bike shops and cycling culture.
One of the most charming shops is Golon Cycles Vintage Bikes. Founded by Emilio Martel 10 years ago, Golon moved to its new location on the western side of Palermo less than six months ago. It’s here that Martel sips his Maté, repairs bikes, and builds a variety of his own.
“Golon has always been in Palermo, but I outgrew the first one just moved to this new location” Martel tells me as he chatted nearby his meticulous work room. “Here I work on all kinds of bikes to that my clients bring in. It is really satisfying. Sometimes people bring in bikes that they think are broken forever, and I bring them back to life. Even bikes with broken frames, I often manage to get going again.”
It is clear that much of Martel’s own passion and expertise comes from his own line of custom-built steel bikes that he builds under the Golon name. And it is here where his real passion lies.
“It took me time to find the right team, but I with a local frame builder on several different kinds of bikes from city bikes to fixies, and then a local frame painter for the finishing as I like to work with different color schemes,” he says. “After that I assemble the bikes here at the shop.”
Just a few blocks away is another tasteful shop, Muvin – Urban Movement. And while the shop once dabbled in custom frames as well, today it makes its name in high-end imports that address the needs of the city’s commuters and urban cyclists.
“We started seven years ago have a variety of urban bikes,” says Guillermo, one of the stores employees, says as customers come in for a quick repair or to consider a future purchase.
“We started with with folding bikes like the Brompton, which have been very popular in Buenos Aires because a lot of people don’t have a lot of space and then we developed some full-sized city bikes like Brooklyn Bicycle Company. And then in recent years we’ve had more and more demand for high-end bikes, especially gravel bikes, and so we have been working with Cannondale. And then we have Bullitt Cargo bikes to satisfy the needs of other cyclists. As a result we have been able to meet the demands of virtually every Buenos Aires cyclist.”
Both shops are friendly and worth a visit if you are in this great South American city. There is an espresso machine in one corner of Muvin, and Martel says that a coffee bar will be the next addition to his shop. And in the meantime he just might offer you a taste of Maté.
Golon Cycles. Serrano 1249. Palermo, Buenos Aires
Muvin – Urban Movement. Girriti 5051. Palermo, Buenos Aires