Hub and spoke: Russia’s top five cycling hangouts

A new crop of cafes, bars and shops are springing up across Russia, offering serious cyclists and leisurely riders alike a place to meet and eat

7 October 2014

With its epic size, hazardous roads and traffic-clogged capital, Russia might not seem to be a natural home for cycling enthusiasts. Nevertheless, a dedicated community of bike aficionados and craftsmen skilled in the art of framebuilding and repairs has appeared, with some of the more entrepreneurial bent opening cycling-inspired cafes and bars. With warehouses offering made-to-measure bikes, workshops known for an almost puritanical commitment to vintage parts and a motorcycle repair shop doubling as a nighttime drinking hole, Russia’s cycling communities are alive and kicking. Here’s our list of the top five cycling hubs in the country.

Ellipsis Workshop St Petersburg

Tucked away in the former industrial lands of St Petersburg’s Krasnogvardeysky district, Ellipsis Workshop is a dream come true for anyone with a passion for bicycle frames. The project was launched by a pair of bike enthusiasts who have distilled their expert knowledge, gleaned from years working in repair shops, into a business devoted exclusively to frame building. The workshop produces both standard and made-to-measure bikes with hand-built track, road and cyclocross frames for the cycling connoisseurs of the city’s fast-growing fixed-gear community.

Dautov Bros Cafe Yekaterinburg

Carving out a niche for itself as the first cycling cafe in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg, Dautov Bros Cafe is a hub for coffee-loving bike enthusiasts. The cafe-cum-bike-shop, which has tables and chairs stationed beneath bikes hanging from wall racks, boasts a menu of everything you could possibly need “for you and for your bike”. The Dautov brothers’ newest venture — they first opened a bike shop — has proved popular among the city’s cyclists. If you want to find out about the latest cycling films or find out about biking events in the city, Dautov Bros Cafe is the place to go. The cafe also offers guests bike storage facilities.

Enthusiast Moscow

Although primarily a motorcycle repair shop and bar, hipster hangout Enthusiast also offers the local cycling community a minor repair service. The bar is littered with motorcycle parts and bicycle paraphernalia, making it a haven for both barflies and mechanics. Although the emphasis is on drinking rather than biking, the decor is sufficiently on message to justify it as a go-to hub for Moscow’s biking community. There’s sandwiches, ale on tap, and themed dancing and film nights.

Velo Delo Moscow

Vadim Hazov, the founder of cycling repair shop Velo Delo, was fixing up bikes for a decade before launching his project, hence the wide range of services on offer. Not only does Hazov sell shiny new bikes, he also collects custom-made and fixed-gear frames as well as one-speed, multi-speed and old Soviet bikes, all of which are done up with great care. In keeping with the Moscow trend, Velo Delo doubles up as a watering hole, with the shop kitted out with a bar and DJ booth.

Old Iron Bikes Perm

Breathing life into tired bicycles, Old Iron Bikes was set up as a repair and restoration shop committed to reusing old, original bike parts as far as possible. What started out in a garage in the small town of Berezniki in the Perm region, the project has since grown into a thriving business, with a workshop now in Perm’s city centre offering a number of services for the city’s cycling community. Now, the project’s founders are preparing for the production of accessories and clothing, and organising a regular series of bike and live music events.