Popup Bikes is Manchester city centre’s original cycle café. We provide indoor cycle parking for 100 bikes, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Popup Bikes is also home to a cycle repair shop and a coffee shop serving direct trade coffee and fresh food, prepared on-site.
Popup Bikes puts community before profits. We provide a place where cyclists can meet, interact with each other and exchange tips and stories. By giving cyclists the space to help each other, we aim to nurture Manchester’s cycling community.
The idea of Popup Bikes began one Friday in 2011, when Prestwich-based cyclist Dipak Patel rode into Manchester for a beer with a friend. After walking around the city looking for a place to park his bike, Dipak ended up leaving it with a doorman in the gay village, wondering why there was no secure parking for bikes in the city centre. After all, there was plenty for cars. He had found a gap in the market.
Dipak realised that using empty – or under-used – commercial property would limit his costs, meaning he could charge less, so cycle parking could ‘pop up’ in vacant premises. The search for a property took Dipak to the garages beneath the railway arches in Angel Meadows, which he had visited as a child, with his Dad.
Popup Bikes opened in April 2012, under an arch previously used to park just one car. Dipak found second hand furniture for the customers and scaffolding poles to hang bikes from. The coffee bar and the mechanics bench were made with timber from salvaged pallets, and one of the chairs was repaired using inner tubes – a technique Dipak had seen in India. Many of the bike tools were second hand. By the end of the year, the business had the equipment and the skills to strip and rebuild bikes and to build wheels.
In 2013, we took on a barista and an apprentice mechanic. To keep things local, we began buying coffee from a Manchester-based roastery, and cycle components from wholesalers in Worsley and Prestwich.