With all this lovely weather in London, my love for my bike has been renewed. With full force. It’s pretty lovely to ride around this city with the warmth of the sun on your face, knowing that at the same time you’re saving yourself the bus fare, doing your bit for the environment and keeping fit (woop!)
And on top of how nice it is to actually cycle about, there is this whole growing obsession with the bike itself. Of building and owning bicycles that truly are ‘objects of desire’. If I had (quite a lot) of spare cash, I would ditch my 6-speed hybrid for a single-speed, light-weight road bike; probably in cream, probably with a tan leather Brooks saddle, I’m not sure about the wheels, but you get the picture. And then I read about Republic Bike, who “invite you to custom-build bicycles based on shared designs—choose from an array of colours for the frame, saddle, grips, chain, rims, tires and crank. Who says your front tyre can’t be yellow, while your back tyre is pink? Ever dreamed of having a blue bike frame with red handle grips and a white saddle? Republic can make this dream a reality”. Wow. It’s like crack cocaine for the bike addict…
But that also reminded me of a great project I caught wind of recently: Bike Portraits. South Africa based Bike Portraits is a collection of beautiful photographs about different bikes and their owners.
Unlike the bespoke and aesthetically beautiful ‘fixies’ of Shoreditch and Williamsburg, the bikes in these photos are all worn-down and tattered, ‘work-horse’ cycles, that mean everything to their owners; bikes that are integral to their owner’s day-to-day existence. And to that, each photo tells a unique story, about how owner and bike came together and why that bike is so important to that person. A snippet from one story reads “This bicycle means many things for me, so I can say, I like him. I call him Tomzanele - it means “the last servant girls”. It is also my daughter’s name.”
As I’ve been reading through some of the stories, I’ve realised that Bike Portraits is a pretty amazing project—they are trying to encourage cycling in South Africa amongst all social classes. They have said: “As you might know, South Africa is a world within one country, home to various cultures, with a tragic history of segregation and racism. Through this project we hope to give people a glimpse into each other’s lives through a well-known object of movement, practicality and joy—the bicycle.” They are still trying to raise money to turn the photos on their website into a beautiful photographic book—if you want to find out more about their fundraising initiative, click here.
It’s been interesting to create these two moodboards, and think about which draws me in the most: the eye-candy of the first, or the depth and stories of the second.
Moodboard 2: All images are from the Bike Portraits’ website
To finish off this post, I have to include a link to the brilliant Mark Ronson & The Business Intl The Bike Song. There is no better place for it than here! Enjoy