Port Elizabeth’s oldest bicycle shop, Coimbra Cycle Centre, combines a keen sense of history with a newfound strategic focus on the future.
Established in 1966, the shop was originally named Coimbra Cycle House, after the Portuguese city, as a tribute to the owner’s homeland.
He sold it less than a year later and, after changing owners five or six times over the years, the outlet is now in the capable hands of father-and-son duo Deon and Ewan van Vuuren.
According to Ewan, 22, they updated the 46-year-old brand in order to avoid any confusion with an unrelated shop of the same name in George.
And, as the name implies, Coimbra now provides a one-stop, full-service centre, offering everything from set-ups and repairs to bikes, apparel, nutrition and accessories.
In line with current trends, the business has switched its focus from road to mountain biking but still offers a complete service across all disciplines.
“When we started three years ago, we had no big brands. Now we’re the biggest Scott retailer in PE and also sell Axis and Felt bikes.”
In addition, says Ewan, they will source and import rare parts and accessories that are not readily available in South Africa. “For us it’s about going the extra mile.”
The Van Vuurens take that promise quite literally by delivering special orders all over the country by courier service. “For instance, we recently dispatched bike orders to Secunda.”
They also offer a pick up and delivery service around the greater PE area and are generally open from 6am to 6pm during the week for customers to drop off or collect their bikes before and after work.
With three qualified mechanics on board, the shop is able to service all manner of road and mountain bikes, cruisers, tricycles and even wheelchairs.
At the end of September, Coimbra Cycle Centre affirmed its appreciation of history by becoming the official bike shop to South Africa’s oldest cycling club – the Port Elizabeth Cycling Club.
Keenly aware of their shared legacy, the new partnership will aim to grow the future of the sport by boosting road, mountain bike and track cycling in the city.
As a former provincial cyclist and member of the MTN junior road team, Ewan is himself also discovering the joys of the off-road discipline and sharing it with his clientele.
“We organise regular bunch rides for the roadies and also take clients on mountain bike events like the Eden Duo and Double Century.”
However, running the shop, and consulting on projects such as the new Hopewell Bike Park outside the city, means he is often too busy to put in as much time in the saddle as he’d like.
But Ewan’s passion for the business of cycling remains clearly evident.
“We’re looking to expand. Our aim is to build a massive bicycle workshop – the biggest in PE – on one side and a retail section on the other.”
And it’s that kind of forward thinking that may just see them stick around for another 50 years.
Coimbra Cycle Centre
65 4th Avenue, Newton Park, Port Elizabeth
041 365 2066
Trading hours: Monday to Friday 6am – 6pm; Saturday 8.30am – 1pm
Full Stop Communications
082 575 7991
041 368 4992
On behalf of:
Cyclingnews & ASG Events