Ricci´s Sport

Why is it that cycling seems to breed such a number of fascinating personalities?

One of them certainly is Richard Pratt who runs Ricci Sports cycle shop in Düsseldorf/Germany. In his early sixties, he is an expat Scot who has a great Aberdeen accent even when speaking German. Just listening to him talk about his Holdsworth conversion brings back happy memories of Scottish holidays.

Richard is a formidable racer (twice Scottish road champion) as well as a formidable mechanic, and loos back at an adventurous carreer as a pro mechanic having worked for some time with pro teams, specialising in wheelbuilding. As if this weren´t enough, he knows all there is to know about bicycle hubs and wood rims. Also he is most generous with his time, allowing me two hours of interview and then giving me a 1960s stayer front wheel with a perfect example of tyre bandaging art. Bandaging craft? Art, about which both of us can wax lyrical.

At first, approaching the shop, there is not much to see.


On entering the premises, however, the visitor recognizes at once that this is not your run of the mill bikeshop. The shop being small, very small for its purpose, Richard very cleverly has not attempted to cram it with modern equipment and bikes – that would be futile. He rather has created a bicycle parlour in which customers can lose themselves – if they have an idea of what is displayed. However, the quality of Richard´s collection is such that any customer notes right away that the parts and bikes he or she sees are very special indeed. Gleaming chrome and colourful, box lined paintwork never fail to create attention. That was very obvious in Apeldoorn, and it is here.



But it´s not all name, wine and glass cases – there´s serious expert´s knowledge behind the shop which caters nearly exclusively for racers. It´s a pleasure to watch Richard wrench. Also look at this:


I pride myself of being a rather well educated layman in matters bicycle, but there are tools hanging from this workshop wall I haven´t even heard of.


This looks definitively outmoded in comparison. The Campag tool set resides on the counter in the showroom which is resplendent with all sorts of goodies – Richard´s modern house brand Cavallo road machines as well as veteran equipment which he lovingly cares for – and which he also repairs when customers bring it in. Yesterday for instance there was a marvellous late fifties Bianchi road machine which other cycle shops would probably not even look at (“You simply must upgrade this – no spares – come back when we´re less busy…”).

Here are a few more impressions from the shop.










There are pictures of old racers in the glass casses behind the hubs. The picture which shows Richard leading the bunch when taking part in the seniors´ worlds in Italy a few years ago is on the shelf with the Chater light alloy shelled hubs showing nicely where his heart lies.


Here´s another item which any self respecting British expat bike shop just has to have.


Then there´s a row of the choicest track machines one might think of. One is the 1934 Russ Richard took to Apeldoorn. The bikes hid Richard´s self made wine bottle storage hub.






One even is a German made Dürkopp. Dürkopps werent available custom made, so I guess it is not as noble as the other bikes.

Here´s a bike which really isn´t quite important – excepting its rims. They are wood, non-iron clad Lobdells and are still straight after 117 years. Richard could probably just approach any Düsseldorf University auditorium and talk about Lobdell and Fairbanks wood rims, how wood rims are made today, and so on, and he would hold his audience spellbound.


So let´s hope Düsseldorf cyclists appreciate what a treasure they have in the form of Richard´s cycle shop. They should be flocking there for pro service and a bit of free bike history education on the side.


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