A Peek Inside Loose Cycles in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Neža Peterca recently stopped into Loose Cycles, a new bikepacking-centric shop in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to check out the space and learn what they’re all about. Find her tour of the shop here…
Slovenia is a country where more than half of the land is covered with forests, making it an amazing playground for off-road riding enthusiasts. It only takes about two hours to cross the country the long way, and all the tiny villages that dot the hills are connected by a maze of incredible gravel roads. It’s no surprise, then, that Slovenia has become one of the most visited bikepacking destinations of Europe in the past few years.
You’re in luck if you’re a bikepacker who is planning to visit Slovenia, as Loose Cycles recently opened their doors in the capital, Ljubljana. Owners Marko and Tine have dedicated a large part of the shop’s space to bikepacking, and it’s actually one of the only shops in Slovenia where you don’t feel intimidated walking in and just asking questions without having a wad of cash in your pocket. It’s a place where it’s okay not to be interested in high-end carbon bikes, and one where you can have a coffee with the owner over a chat about a newly discovered stealth camp spot.
Marko and Tine have been familiar faces of Slovenian alternative cycling scene for over 20 years now. Marko, a jack-of-all-trades, is not only an amazing illustrator and graphic designer, but also throws bewildering bike related events and is one of those people who communities are built around. He’s also done the designs on the past two series of Bombtrack bikes. Tine is known as one of the best mechanics in Slovenia and has been a popular face in the world of single speed racing. The shop walls are decorated with posters, trophies, and t-shirts from single speed championships all around the world—Tine’s private collection. He’s also an avid bike collector and you can find a few of his iconic builds adorning the shop’s walls.
But Loose Cycles isn’t the first bike shop the guys have been part of. Marko was one of the folks behind the Pici Bici project/shop, which was one of the first alternative shops in Ljubljana. It was a place where everyone could have their old road bike converted into a fixed gear during that boom. The guys wanted to bring the same spirit to the new shop, where everyone is welcome, no matter what kind of riding you’re into.
Loose Cycles was created from a need for a friendly bike shop; a place with dedicated space for community building. Their main idea was to create a store where anyone could walk in with the wildest bike dream and the guys would try to make it happen. To that extent, the shop isn’t filled up to the brim with stuff, but only with few selected frames and other bits. A lot is left to the customers’ imaginations, and Marko gladly helps guide and advise buyers all the way from the idea stage to the point where they’re riding out on their new bike. Be it a world touring rig, a single speed monster, a carbon roadie, or a downhill bike, they’re eager to help.
In addition to complete bikes and frames from Bombtrack, Surly, and Revel, and a few others, they also stock some lightweight camping gear. In my opinion, the coolest bits are the shop’s pieces of merch, including t-shirts and water bottles with unique designs from another Slovenian graphic designer, Leon Zuodar (@leonzuodar).
The heart of the shop, a big hang out space meant for events, is on hold for the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions. Once things are more normal again, they’re planning weekly MTB or gravel rides, travel presentations, movie screenings, and repair workshops. Marko also wants to reignite the flame of the Dust Lust event, a gravel race previously organized by Pici Bici. The idea is to spread it out into a two-day event to connect the riding with a flavor of Slovenian cuisine in hopes of attracting more international cyclists.
If you’re riding in Slovenia and you happen to pass by Ljubljana, Loose Cycles is the place to visit. Marko and Tine have done their fair share of bikepacking around the country and are happy to share their local knowledge about camp spots, dreamy places to ride, and where to eat the best ričet (a typical Slovenian mountain stew).