Freestyling in Ferragudo

Metro Bikes adds a twist to bespoke bicycles

Moving down from the hills of Monchique to Portimão at the age of 12, Sérgio “Monchique” Gonçalves began to notice that he was spending most of his pocket money on bicycle repairs. He realised that it would be prudent to learn how to fix his own equipment and save his money to upgrade his bike. His dedication paid off and he soon started to fix his friends’ bikes, which stood him in great stead in the future.

It was soon evident that he was dedicated to his BMX and loved spending hours perfecting stunts on his bike, as many young boys did, but he felt a real affinity with his bicycle and refused to give up. The bumps and scratches from the many falls only gave fuel to his determination and made him follow his dream.

People began to realise that he was very serious about his hobby and, with support from his friends and family, he went on to become a world champion in BMX flatland categories (flatland is a freestyle BMX riding style performed on smooth flat surfaces and is sometimes described as a form of artistic cycling with a blend of breakdancing). With BMX titles including world champion (Flatland Master) in 2000 in Cologne, Germany, and three times national champion (also in the Flatland Master category), it was clear to see that this young man from Monchique had a great talent and a real understanding of his chosen sport. But with his university days coming to an end, it was time to leave these glorious times behind and join the rat race. After 10 years conforming to the 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday working week, he realised life wasn’t filling him with joy, so he took the bold move to leave his steady job, listen to his heart and create his own company. And so, Metro Bikes was born of a combined passion for bicycles and his homeland of Portugal.

Predominately an online store which sells custom bikes and accessories, it has the added bonus of having a showroom located in the garage of Sérgio’s home in the picturesque village of Ferragudo, allowing clients to arrange an appointment to see some of the fantastic options available first-hand and discuss their specific requirements in person.

Building a large variety of bespoke projects that vary massively in price and, of course, appearance, Sérgio loves the diversity of his chosen profession – the core elements of the business are BMX and retro design, renovation and accessory sales – and complete customer satisfaction is his main objective. With a huge amount of options including cork coatings, various hub brake systems, leather seats, hand-painted finishes, coloured spokes, trims, handles and chains in every colour of the spectrum to choose from, having your very own bike made is actually quite accessible. Prices start from €300 for the vintage styles, but of course, depending on the clients’ requirements and imagination, costs can climb up into the thousands.

“The use of hub brakes is becoming very fashionable,” notes Ségio. “They have two main advantages: one being aesthetic, in that there is no need for brake handles on the bikes frame, making it more slimline, and the other being cost. Brakes and gears are the most expensive core element in cycling and the things that tend to go wrong most often, which will incur additional maintenance.”

A recent collaboration between Portimão-based Alambre Exclusive Furniture and Metro Bikes also allowed a few clients to have a really unique finish using the wonderful, natural, local resource that is cork. One Dutch client requested the whole frame of his custom bike be covered in cork, and Sérgio had the handles of one of his showroom bikes wrapped in it. He often displays the model with the cork-wrapped handles in one of the stores of Repto, a Portuguese clothing brand, in Portimão or Vilamoura. This synergy between urban fashion and Portuguese tradition seems to work very well and is becoming more and more popular with the online market boosting its reach.

Other recent projects have included a 1950s bicycle that was passed down the generations and made its way into the workshop. “The current owner wanted the cycle restored to its former glory with a few subtle, modern twists,” notes the former BMX world champion, and hopes that this example of the sleek 1950s style will be handed down through future generations for a long time to come.

Keeping the retro theme going, Sérgio is currently restoring an American 1980s Honda CB650 from scratch in his spare time, which will take pride of place in his two-wheeled collection.

Always happy to jump on his bike to show off his skills, the Ferragudo resident loves to reminisce about his old BMX days and takes every opportunity to help organise events and pass on his skills to upcoming enthusiasts.

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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