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Bilsland History

The History of Billy Bilsland Cycles.

Our wee shop opened in Glasgow’s east end in 1980 by Billy Bilsland, who was fresh out the pro peloton (he had since retired from his European Professional Cycling career only a couple of seasons before). Ever since then we have been a fast paced independent bike shop trying to make the world a better place, one bicycle at a time.

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Who is Billy Bilsland?

Billy in his Peugeot Michelin Pro Kit.

Billy Bilsland is one of Scotland’s most decorated racing cyclists from the 60s/70s. Billy displayed talent from a young age, when he took the Scottish National 25mile Time Trial championships at only 17. As he grew older the results continued to flow in; 25 (again) and 50 mile Time Trials, Road Race, Pursuit and Grass Track National Titles. Billy really started to make his mark when he started gaining international results (whilst still being technically an ‘amateur’ on the Peugeot feeder team). These results included; stage wins in the Milk Race, Tour de l’Avenir, Peace Race, Tour of Czechoslovakia as well as competing in the 1968 Olympic Team Time Trial (finished 7th overall) and the Road Race in Mexico, where unfortunately a puncture, whilst in the winning breakaway, crushed his dreams of victory. After a stellar amateur career, Billy was finally snatched up up Peugeot Michelin in 1970. From there he moved to Europe to race professionally full time and he did not disappoint. His first season began in France, where Billy took victory in the largest prime of the night (100,000 French Francs) at the Grenoble Velodrome. During that season he also came 10th in the Tour of Lombardy and 11th in Paris Tours. Of course this was a time before the internet, so most of Billy’s results from his pro career can be found in the form of l’Equipe news paper article clippings in scrapbooks kept by his mammy. However what you can’t find in the news is what Billy claims to be one of the highlights, a handsling from his childhood cycling hero Rik Van Looy. During the rest of his 5 year professional career Billy rode the world road race championships (where he finished 14th in 1971) and the Belgian classics such as, Gent Wevelgem and Ronde van Vlaanderen. He rode for not only Peugeot BT Michelin, but also TI Raleigh, for his last two professional years, where he also raced in Spain. After handing the rains of the shop down to his son Neil, Billy spends his time racing, Pigeons that is.

Billy Bilsland and his racing pigeons.

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Athlete Development

Billy and Robert Millar.

Back when Billy ran the shop he took a budding racer under his wing, Robert Millar. Millar went on to become a professional cyclist just like Billy and even wore the Polkadot jersey in the Tour de France. Robert is known today as Phillipa York and is still an active member of the racing community who has been known to commentate on recent UCI races. Since then Neil has supported many riders on their racing journeys. Highlights include Neah Evans and Finn Graham who have both gone on to win World and European titles on the track with the Great Britain Cycling Team.

Left: Neil Bilsland and Fin Graham, Right: Barry Wilson (head mechanic) and Neah Evans

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Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Neil Bilsland with Team Malawi and their new Bikes.

Having the Commonwealth Games in your hometown is every athletes dream and if that wasn’t enough, the Road Race and Time Trail courses went right by our wee shop! The atmosphere on those days was electric, with all the fans and riders flooding the streets. We had a little something extra to be excited about on race day…in the lead up to the games Team Malawi brought their bikes into our shop for a pre-race service. However we did them one better, the Team’s budget for equipment was tight, so we lent the riders Cervelo Road and Time Trial bikes for the race. The riders were so grateful and lovely to work with that when they came to return their loaned bikes, we gifted the team two Genesis Volare road bikes so that the riders could continue to train and race back in Malawi. In return the team gifted us one of their race jerseys which we have displayed on the shop wall to this day. A timeless piece of Bilsland History.

Team Malawi Official Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Race Jersey

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Where are we now?

Just before the initial lockdown due to COVID19 in early 2020, we announced our shop expansion. Unfortunately, over a year later, we still haven’t been able to open fully to let you all see our new space. Our location may have stayed the same, but we have almost doubled in size. After taking over the unit next door, the first thing we did was knock through the wall. Allowing us to increase our shop floor size from a mere shoe box to a place where we can actually show you our bikes in all their glory. Along with the new front of house, the mechanics have also had an upgrade, a brand new workshop. The last piece of the newly formed puzzle is our BikeFit Studio where both Ellie and Barry make sure you’re seated comfortably upon your new stead. Fear not we have still kept our shop’s character and not given in to the corporate giants. Like we mentioned above, Bilsland History is still peppered throughout the shop in the form of Billy’s 1968 Olympic Jersey, Rober Millar’s signed Polkadot jersey and Peugeot bike that he rode in the Tour along with some more recent professional jerseys, who once belonged to the likes of Peter Sagan and David Millar.

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Once its safe to do so, we encourage you to come by our wee shop and have a gander at; our new space, nice bikes and of course some Bilsland History. We are always free to chat bikes.