With his friendly but challenging manner, striking red hair and flamboyant dress sense, John Wilson was a familiar figure in Oxford for 35 years.

The former owner of Walton Street Cycles, in Jericho, died on June 3, aged 53.

He was born in Manchester in 1957, and grew up in the city, attending Manchester Grammar School.

He won a scholarship in physics at Oxford University’s Balliol College in 1975.

John’s passion for cycling began in childhood and by the time he had left school he had rebuilt a tandem and acquired his first racing bike.

Commuting from his student house in Farmoor, where he remained until this year, fed his commitment to cycling and he began to work at Walton St Cycles after leaving university.

John eventually bought the business with his long-term partner Kingsley.

It went on to thrive as one of the first retailers of mountain bikes in the UK. When the business was threatened by the landlord’s plans to convert its Walton Well Road workshop for housing, a vigorous support campaign developed and in 2004 a new workshop was provided in Cranham Terrace.

He sold the business last October, due to ill health.

Away from work he was a loyal Manchester City football fan and loved the outdoors, making frequent trips with friends and family to the Lake District and the Isle of Man.

He was also an enthusiastic member of the Eynsham Sunday cricket team.

He was politically active in the Labour Party, and served as chairman of the West Oxford constituency party for several years.

John’s brain tumour was diagnosed on his 50th birthday. Despite the grim prognosis and the restrictions on his lifestyle, he bore his illness with good grace.

He continued to cycle until March, when he crashed into a fire engine. After the accident, he moved to Scotland to live with his sister Megan.

His funeral was held in Scotland last week. A memorial service was held at Balliol on Tuesday, after which a group of friends cycled to his favourite pub, the Queen's Head in Eynsham, as a tribute to him.