Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘bike’

10 NOVEMBER, 2011

The Holstee LifeCycle Film: Visual Poetry for Bike-Lovers and Creators

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“Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them.”

My friends at Holstee have just released a beautiful short film that marries two of my great loves: bikes and creative restlessness. This cinematic take on their famous Holstee Manifesto, one of these 5 favorite manifestos for the creative life, is an exquisite piece of visual poetry, bound to give you goosebumps and leave you itching to get up and do — or make — something great. Enjoy:

And, lest we forget, the original Holstee Manifesto itself:

The manifesto is now available as a gorgeous 18×24″ poster printed on 100% recycled post-consumer paper, locally made with hydro-electric power and benefiting Kiva, as well as a letterpress card printed on handmade acid-free paper derived from 50% elephant poo and 50% recycled paper. Yep, elephant poo.

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14 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Cyclepedia: An Homage to the Beauty of the Bicycle

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A brief visual history of innovation in bicycle design.

It’s no secret I’m a longtime lover of the two-wheel life. Now, a new book brings two of my great passions — bikes and design — together with such poise and passion that it’s hard not to swoon. Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design is part heartfelt homage to the beauty of the bicycle, part museum of notable bike innovations, channeled by Vienna-based designer, bike aficionado and collector Michael Embacher through 100 remarkable bicycles that range from peculiar niche velocipedes to cutting-edge racing models to high-end design masterpieces.

Delicious technical details and historical bits enrich each images, and a foreword by renowned designer and avid cyclist Paul Smith bridges the geekery of veloculture with the bike’s place in pop culture.

Bianchi C-4 Project model

The C-4 frames of this sleek, futuristic bike made their debut in cycling competitions in 1987.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Inconnu (Unknown)

Nicknamed the Inconnu (Unknown) and produced by a designer who remains anonymous, this folding bike takes around one hour to fold and, once folded, the trailer it forms needs to be tolled since it's flatter and broader than the bike itself.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Vialle Velastic

Dating back to 1925, the Vialle Velastic aimed to make cycling as comfortable as possible and was advertised with a promise to make cycling feel like sitting in an armchair.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Bike Friday

Designed for the world tourist, this bike comes in a case for transporting it on aeroplanes that doubles as a trailer while cycling. The designers, Alan and Hanz Scholz, were inspired by the idea of people cycling away from the airport after landing.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Bob Jackson Tricycle

This unusual tricycle was made in the UK in 1995, customized and hand-crafted to the rider's requirements.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Solling Pedersen

More than 100 years old yet still in production today, this unorthodox design comes from Danish blacksmith Mikael Pedersen, who set out to create a frame that could fit a rider of any height. As the rider added his or her weight, the bike gained stability thanks to a flexible saddle suspended on a cord.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Tur Meccanica Bi Bici

A curious compact Italian tandem from 1980.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Equal parts illuminating and aesthetically transfixing, Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design is bound to tickle your curiosity, quench your design eye, and make your hands itch for the handlebars.

HT @kboelte / Sierra Club; images via BBC

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08 JUNE, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels: A Brief History of the Bike

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What British artisans have to do with geometry, women’s liberation and the local economy.

I’m a big proponent of bike culture and an obsessive cyclist myself. On a cultural level, we’ve seen the incredible effects the bike has had on everything from emancipating women to catalyzing subcultures to revitalizing the local economy. And while the bicycle, since its earliest incarnation, has remained a rather remarkable machine, the never-ending quest for its perfection is a relentless conduit of creativity, imagination and artisanal innovation. That’s exactly what Robert Penn documents in It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels — a fantastic new chronicle of the bike’s story, from its cultural history to its technical innovation to the fascinating, colorful stories of the people who ride it.

At the heart of [the capstone of the Victorian era] was the bicycle. In 1890, there were an estimated 150,000 cyclists in the USA: a bicycle cost roughly half the annual salary of a factory worker. By 1895, the cost was a few weeks’ wages and there were a million new cyclists each year.” ~ Robert Penn

Penn, a Condé Nast Traveler writer who has traveled more than 25,000 miles on a bicycle, approaches his subject with equal parts humor, humility and authoritative intelligence as he sets out to find himself a new bike. In the process, he dabbles across industrial archeology, economic theory, design and much more, profiles bike culture pioneers, talks to artisan frame builders from the world’s most arcane bike workshops, and even entertains the conceits of Victorian society, where a fear that the bicycle might be sexually stimulating to women became a real concern.

Illustration by Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford for The New York Times

Penn cites novelist John Galsworthy, who eloquently captures the bicycle’s momentous impact:

The bicycle…has been responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles the Second … Under its influence, wholly or in part, have blossomed weekends, strong nerves, strong legs, strong language … equality of sex, good digestion and professional occupation — in four words, the emancipation of women.”

Entertaining, illuminating and beautifully illustrated, It’s All About the Bike is a rare and precious portal to the heart and soul of bike culture and its surprising footprint — tireprint? — on all of culture.

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