What makes a bike-friendly café?
Location, location, location.
While some cafes have made headlines for their efforts to discourage cyclists from visiting them – claiming that the sight of middle-aged men in lycra (mamils) might offend other customers – most cyclists are very welcome.
And more and more are making great efforts to attract cyclists, knowing they can be loyal customers.
The first attribute of a bike-friendly cafe is to provide a place where bikes can be safely locked while their owners relax over their flat whites.
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An outdoor area can be an attractive option for sweaty, cleated riders, while a more casual atmosphere can help make them feel more comfortable.
The most important factor, however, is location – a café at the start or finish of a ride provides a place to meet other cyclists before the ride or to meet up again at the end.
And an attractive location is a bonus. Who doesn’t want to cycle somewhere with a view?
Thankfully, Christchurch has no shortage of great cycling cafes.
Zeros, Cashmere Rd
Zeroes is one of the city’s most famous meeting points for cyclists and hikers. Located at the foot of Cashmere Hill, it makes a great base for a mountain ride, and its river view is the perfect spot to unwind at the end of a workout.
It also has a large 20-seat bike rack and plenty of outdoor tables that are often filled with helmet-wearing customers.
Lynton Robinson, owner for 21 years, says that while cyclists are a highly visible group at Zeroes, they make up less than 20% of customers, with local families and players from the nearby tennis club also being regulars.
Nevertheless, cyclists – like all customers – are very welcome.
A former mountain biker himself, Robinson also offers a high-pressure pump and hoses for sale to help with any bike emergencies. What more do you want?
The Raspberry Cafe, Tai Tapu
The Raspberry Cafe is another longtime favorite. It’s about 20km from the city center so ideally placed for a mid-way recharge if you’re pedaling from Christchurch.
As the name suggests, it’s all about the berries. Located on a berry farm, you can fill up on the famous pies and then buy punnets of berries fresh or frozen to take home.
It is certainly unrivaled in the size and beauty of its garden area, where large tables provide plenty of space for throngs of cyclists to relax and put on their cleats.
Adventure Park Cafe
This one is almost too obvious to mention, but surely no list of bike-friendly cafes could be complete without it.
The large cafe is nestled in a pine forest at the foot of the chairlift that takes cyclists to the top of a growing spider web of paths that descend the slope into the valley.
The cafe’s spacious terrace is usually busy with mountain bikers taking a break from their adventures, but the food is good enough to attract locals not tempted by the bike park.
As you’d expect, the menu includes energizing fries, burgers, and pizza, but also offers vegan and gluten-free options, including a jackfruit burger, rice-based Buddha bowl, and kumara or cauliflower salads.
It’s also licensed, although caution is advised if you have a long commute home.
sign of kiwi
Located atop Cashmere Hill, Sign of the Kiwi is a mecca for athletes of all kinds. Parking is far better than walking or biking, as many do. The bike parking lot across the street is often full.
The location is an obvious draw, with views across the city to the Southern Alps, and with an abundance of off-road hiking trails and hilly biking opportunities.
The coffee is excellent too – you can even keep your keep-cups on the wall of the cup – and the date scones are quite irresistible.
The Kiwi Cafe’s sign in the Port Hills no longer uses single-use cups, instead encouraging customers to use their “cup wall.”
Scarborough Fare, Sumner
The location is the trump card of this beach cafe. In front is surf and sand, behind is a huge playground and water playground, so it’s an ideal place for families to hang out while waiting for food to be served or until the bike whānau finishes its ride.
Or, avoid the wait altogether and head straight to the window for grab-and-go ice cream and coffee.
Outside tables also make this a good place to keep an eye on your bike while you refuel.
Fava, St Martins
Another cafe where cyclists are highly visible is Fava. Like Zeroes, it’s at the base of the Port Hills, handy for Rapaki and Huntsbury tracks.
Because of its location, it’s always busy with walkers, runners, and cyclists on the weekends, with its large bike rack getting crowded and its outdoor tables often filled with players in gym clothes.
Whether you arrive by bike or on foot, come with an appetite. Fava does an amazing brunch (including gluten-free and vegan options), although the cabinet food can be hard to resist and is a good option when you can’t linger.
There are always newspapers to read and a play corner for the youngest customers.
Which café do you prefer to visit by bike? Reply in the comments section below or email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Biketober is also looking for nominations.