The Hub – Redbourn, Hertfordshire

The Hub cycle and coffee bar

The Hub cycle and coffee bar

Please note – this is not the website for The Hub cycle cafe in Redbourn. If you’re trying to make contact with this wonderful place, please follow this link – click here

Go into any “normal” bike shop and you are greeted by the smell of the tyres.  Go into The Hub, in Redbourn, Hertfordshire and you are greeted by the smell of really nice coffee.  The next greeting comes from Simon Barnes, the owner, who happened to be sitting just inside reading a magazine.

“Hello, welcome.  Would you like a coffee?  Are you a cyclist?”

Needless to say that was the cue for a very pleasant conversation and half hour spent in this lovely place.  It is described as a refuge for cyclists and a coffee bar.  I think it’s more than that.

For the benefit of my American readers, this is a quirky, frightfully English, slightly eccentric establishment which “cocks a hoot” at the uniform, corporate and predictable coffee shops, bike shops and sitting rooms.  Did I say “sitting room”?  Well, that’s just what it’s like when you go in.  There’s a nice cosy feel, with it’s rustic charm, odd furniture, neat-but-not-too-tidy feel.  All around there are bits of bicycle memorabilia, magazines to read through and enjoy.

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In conversation with Simon, a very easy-to-get-along-with host, he explained how he started his little enterprise and comes across as thoroughly enjoying himself.  What makes this work so well is the informality and he certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously.  What he does take seriously is ensuring his customers get a hearty welcome and this is extended naturally to all cyclists, locals popping in for a natter and so on (it’s almost like a local ‘pub’).

As far as bikes are concerned, outside there were a couple of vintage bikes for sale.  Both in excellent condition and well presented.  From memory one was a Rudge, the other a Flying Pigeon; should give an idea of the era they hail from.  Inside there was a newish Trek road bike for sale at £495 and further back in the shop there was a handful of more upmarket machines with four figure price tags.  Some were new, some were used.  Dotted around that area were some accessories and they’re  happily to carry out repairs.  This could be handy as the shop is strategically positioned within a few yards of the Chiltern Cycle Way.

Simon is a natural host.  I got the impression he’s be happy to chat all day about the latest bike scene, who’s who in the racing world and his observations on these things.  He is rightly proud of the cafe side of things too.  I must confess I didn’t have enough time on my side to sample anything and report to you now but that must be a good reason to go back some other time.  He was keen to explain the workings of the bespoke Italian coffee making equipment, together with it’s ultra-fresh coffee; the local home-made cakes, flapjacks and other tempting snacks.  I’m pretty sure Simon mentioned they use the kitchen at the nearby Redbournbury flour mill for some of their wares – that is also a lovely place to visit (and sometimes we’ve bought our bread making flour from there).

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I need to go back some time before too long.  I didn’t get a coffee, or one of those lovely cakes and I need to soak up the atmosphere a little more.  Plus I need to take some better photographs next time!

We need places like this.  For anyone cycling in the area, why not go and have a coffee and cake in the quirkiest coffee-come-bike shop around (unless you know different?).  Please feel very welcome, I’d love to know if you’ve been there and what cake you had….

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9 Responses to The Hub – Redbourn, Hertfordshire

  1. Paul says:

    Thanks Simon!
    Living in St Albans I’d been past the Hub a number of times but never stopped in as its a too soon/late in the ride for a break however a couple of weeks ago an emergency required a visit.
    My new riding partner Jonny had suffered a huge rip in the tyre on Chequers hill. With little option than to get a replacement I set off to Redbourn to that shop I’d noticed while Jonny warmed himself in the pub. Despite not having enough money between for a tyre on me Simon welcomed me into the shop and without hesitantion said “jump in the car and we’ll go pick up your friend”. A coffee, tyre and tube all on the slate and we were good to go again soon after. Jonny has been back to settle up (and get some cake) and I’ll be back again soon as this is now my new favourite shop.
    Even without this level of service the shop is a gem with everything from some really interesting framesets to bargain baskets for rummaging!

    • doug says:

      Paul, thank you.

      Your experience sounds absolutely amazing and service like that is almost unheard of these days. Glad to hear you liked the shop and I’m definitely going back sometime, after all, there’s all that cake and coffee to try out.

      Regards, Doug.

  2. Paul Gardner says:

    Pollenta cake, reminding me I’m off to Pollensa in Majorca next week for long bike week, and the coconut and strawberry slice, machiatto double, after a freezing 20mph headwind, -3 ride wind chill around the chilterns…might even buy the Cervelo s5 inside…

  3. Dean says:

    I popped over yesterday, at the suggestion of a Friend, and the HuB is all that he said it would be. A great place for a cyclist to relax in and enjoy an espresso while either sitting in the sun (well on that day) or surrounded by some great cycling memorabilia. Thank you Simon.

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  6. Vince Scott says:

    would u welcome electric bikers so enthusastically

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  8. Nick Gough says:

    “clocks a hoot”?? Don’t you mean ‘cocks a snook’?

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