Our History

Our History

In the Beginning.


Back in 1977 there was a small suburban bicycle shop in North West London called Beta Bikes. The shop was owned by an entrepreneur named Errol Drew. Errol had spent time in the USA and seen the emergence of mountain biking and decided to bring it to the UK. He started to import some American brands as well as develop his own mountain bikes under the Ridgeback brand (which continues to operate today). Demand for these products grew from other bicycle retailers and consumers across the UK. This led to the creation of the distributor company Madison to supply product to the trade. Freewheel was the original name of the mail order catalogue for consumers.

From Catalogue to Store.


The Freewheel mail order catalogue was sold throughout the UK in all newsagents and fast became the go to publication for everything cycling in the UK. Later, in the 90’s, the retail model of Beta Bikes was developed as a franchise and these franchise stores operated under the fascia of Freewheel. At the peak there were circa 30 Freewheel stores throughout the UK. At the same time the company Madison grew rapidly and it was clear that the future of the business lay in being a distributor to the trade rather than a retailer.

Going online.


Madison still operates as the UK’s largest distributor of bicycle parts and accessories and Freewheel (a trademark still owned by Madison) was reinvented in 2019 as a direct to consumer eCommerce website for the Madison and Sportline brand portfolio. Our mission is to ensure that the local independent bike shops continue to thrive. Read how we to this here.

The Freewheel Union.


We have over 400 stores throughout the UK signed up to The Freewheel Union, which a large percentage being collection points for our Click & Collect orders. Each shop is highly regarded within their local communities and provides customers with many value added bike related services. We proudly support this union of bike shops with every purchase made online via a commission system.

Are you a bike shop that would like to join us?