To call Sir Chris Hoy a high achiever would be an understatement. The cyclist has brought home an armful of Olympic medals, managing to remain humble in the process. “I’ve been pretty lucky to do what I love for so many years,” he says, and since retiring from professional cycling in 2013, Hoy hasn’t stepped far from the saddle. Now, the athlete turned entrepreneur has gotten involved in the other end of the biking spectrum, working on carbon bikes, kids’ bikes, track bikes and more with his business, HOY bikes.
“I’m just trying to put back a bit into sport and into cycling in general,” says Hoy, and this way he still gets to ride in a professional capacity too; who better to test drive your bike but an Olympian? Hoy will be bringing his high spec kids’ bikes to the London Bike Show. “A lot of kids’ bikes are pretty clunky and heavy and it can put kids off trying them,” he says, and his mission is to improve their cycling experience, getting the bikes, “as light and fun to ride and enjoyable as possible.” In the aftermath of London 2012, Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and the GB cyclists inspired ‘the Olympic cycling effect’, increasing the numbers of two wheelers on the road. Getting people on their bikes is good news, and today Hoy would encourage anybody to “make cycling part of their lives.”
“Cycling can be such a fun thing to do no matter what level you choose to do it at and I think the crucial thing is getting people into it at an early age,” says Hoy. And kids today have a two year jump start on the older generation, thanks to the ‘balance bike’. Gone are the days of stabilisers; instead, they’re introduced to bikes without pedals, which they can push themselves along on. “There are kids who are two or three who are learning to ride bikes now,” claims Hoy. “You’re just not strong enough to turn the pedals at an early age but if you learn the basics about balancing and using your body weight,” explains Hoy, “then as soon as you are strong enough to actually turn the pedals, you can teach kids on bikes.
Hoy insists cycling is a fun family activity, whatever age. “I think it’s one of the few things you can do as a family and genuinely everyone enjoys it, from mum to dad to kids.” With a little tot of his own, baby son Callum, Hoy is looking ahead already, “to when he’s old enough that he can ride with me and we can ride our bikes together.”
British winter won’t put Hoy off cycling either. If “It’s all just about being dressed for the occasion,” he says. “Look at skiing and winter sports; people still do them because they’re appropriately dressed. So it’s just about making sure your bike is fit for purpose, you’ve got lights on, you’ve got warm, dry clothing and you can still have just as much fun at this time of year – yes, it isn’t as appealing as a beautiful sunny day but you can still have fun even in the depths of winter.”
Practicality aside, it’s also nice to look good on your bike. “I think it’s important to feel comfortable and I think that kind of goes hand in hand with feeling good.” Hoy’s other business venture is his Hoy Vulpine clothing range, and he’ll be launching the specialised commuter cycling clothes at the London Bike Show, “which is pretty exciting because we’ve been working on that for a while now.” Hoy is helping people both look and feel on top form when it comes to getting their cycle on. After all, cycling gear can be pretty unforgiving.
“A lot of people who are taking up cycling now, maybe they haven’t ridden a bike in a couple of years, they’re trying to get into shape and the thought of wearing lycra isn’t the most appealing,” says Hoy. “What we’re trying to do is to create performance cycling clothing so it does actually perform but you can hopefully look good and feel comfortable too, when you’re at the café or off the bike … I think that if people feel good it will make them want to wear it and therefore want to get on their bikes more often.”
With Hoy’s help, 2015 could be the year of the dapper cyclist.