Coffee and cycling have always gone hand in hand; a caffeine hit halfway through a long ride saves many pedal-weary bikers – and the cycle café trend shows no sign of slowing down. These famous European cycle cafés are based on different concepts, but usually it’s simply a place to stop by, order a drink and relax. While you’re at it, you can casually inflate your tyres or quickly fix small issues if your bike is not alright.
All under one roof: Look Mum No Hands!, London
London’s Look Mum No Hands! is one of the originals. Its founder Matthew Harper remembers he always wanted some place to watch the Tour de France live in London. In 2010, he opened the café with friends Lewin Chalkley and Sam Humpheson. Their shop was based around things they loved – bikes, coffee, beer, pies, and live cycling – all under one roof. Though known for its boisterous atmosphere during the Tour, it’s not just for die-hard Lycra louts and kamikaze couriers. The Belgian beers, fresh juices, and proper food also attract commuting foldies, fixie-riding hipsters and families. Baristas, mechanics and chefs can take care of almost any need. Coffee comes from local roasters Square Mile, pies and cakes from nearby bakeries and craft beers from breweries in London and beyond. A packed program of exhibitions, film screenings, live cyclesport and even cycle speed dating ensure that LMNH is always buzzing with all the different elements of London’s cycle culture.
Everything around bikes: Zweiradperle, Hamburg
Zweiradperle is a bike shop and café all in one. In the Zweiradperle, everything revolves around the bicycle. It’s a meeting place created by cyclists for cyclists. Whether you bring in your bike for service, rent a bike, get to know Hamburg on a guided bike tour, use free Wi-Fi while enjoying a cup of coffee and a sandwich, or design a bike of your dreams, you won’t be disappointed.
Happiness juiced: Vélocité Cafe, Lisbon
Lisbon isn’t the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. With few designated bike paths, crazy traffic and more than a few hills, cycling hasn’t really taken off. But things are changing, and Vélocité Café is leading the revolution. Since 2012, this award-winning hangout has opened its doors to bike lovers. Conveniently located along one of Lisbon’s bike paths and close to the Gulbenkian museum and the Eduardo VII park, this “speed café” is easy to find. On a drowsy, rainy day, the café is filled with coffee lovers rather than bike lovers. But when the sun’s out, it is a favorite stop for many cyclists. 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.
The couriers’ choice: Keirin Cycle Culture Café, Berlin
On the 1st of April 2004 Gary and Mortimer founded the Keirin cycle culture café, the first dedicated track bike store in the world. After many years working as bike messengers in Berlin, London, and NYC, a passion for track bikes and bike racing was the driving force behind the idea to create a shop and meeting place for the similarly enthused. It’s offering excellent Italian coffee, live screening of pro-tour and track racing events and an interesting collection of rare track bikes and parts. The shop has a large selection of new and vintage track and road frames and components. Builds and repairs are carried out by a mechanic with 16 years of workshop experience.
Fair Trade Coffee: La Bicicleta Café, Madrid
In the neighborhood of Malasaña, the district famous for its bars, cafés and alternative places, La Bicicleta’s young and stylish ambience invites you to take a seat and feel like one more spoke in Madrid’s cycling community. The idea for a bike café was born 5 years ago when the owners heard about a similar project in Latvia. After giving it some thought and going on trips to get to know places like this, the idea got firmed up and the café finally opened its doors 3 years ago. Malasaña was just the perfect spot, not only because of the target audience in the area but also because of the “romantic feelings” the founders have for this special district. The philosophy behind the café was to create a place where you can drink good, fair-trade coffee, where the bicycle is always in the spotlight and where you can relax, work, repair your bike and have a snack at the same time. Other activities such as exhibitions, presentations of bicycle journeys, Goldsprint competitions or book presentations complete the picture.
A hidden place: Upcycle, Milan
Milan’s Upcycle (upcyclecafe.it) is a former abandoned garage, said to be inspired by London’s original and famous cycle café Look Mum No Hands!. Communal tables surrounded by decor including handlebars and pedals lend themselves easily to a relaxed breakfast or watching live events on the big screen. You can also get your bike repaired. It is not easy to find: no banner outside, no signs, absolutely nothing until you arrive at the entrance – a concrete slope with bike racks. Upcycle has delicious home-made cakes and Scandinavian dishes.
French boutique chic: Steel, Paris
A side street in Oberkampf in the city’s 11th arrondissement hosts Steel: a hub of freshly brewed coffee, sandwiches and cakes, and a boutique selling specialized performance gear. The organization 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 a lot for 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…