We couldn't let our Handmade issue pass by without trying to come up with a beautiful bike - or two. But while a radical re-engineering of the bicycle is a pet obsession for some, we weren't interested in the fundamentals. This project was more about the application of smart ideas, a call-up for genuine craftsmen. Now we're offering these works of art for sale.
'International' bike, by Kinfolk and Coat, with bag by Nivaldo de Lima
Despite the perils of potholes and truckers' blind spots, team Wallpaper* are committed urban cyclists. So committed that we commissioned a bike, two in fact, that could be broken down (using very clever and super-sturdy S&S couplers), packed in a bespoke bag and loaded on a plane, with no excess baggage charge, and taken with us wherever we went. The project pulled in a wide range of craftsmen collaborators from the US, UK and Japan - frame builders, designers, paint specialists, saddle makers, leather carvers and bag and luggage makers - to ensure that every element of the bike was as beautifully put together as it could be.
The two frames were handcrafted in Osaka by 71-year old master frame builder Shuichi Kusaka of US-Japanese operation Kinfolk, the rising stars of bespoke bike building.
Both frames were then shipped to Portland for a paint job by Coat. Established by Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles (because he couldn’t get his frames painted just the way he wanted them), Coat has a reputation as the best in the business. The bikes also feature limited edition leather saddles, produced especially for the bikes by Brooks, the world’s most respected saddle maker.
These one-off exclusive bikes are now for sale from Wallpaper*. Both bikes use 650c wheels for easier packing. The first (with a dark blue frame) is 54 cm and available at £2,450 (plus shipping). The second (with a light blue, 58cm frame) and available at £3,000 (plus shipping). Please email us for enquiries.
Kinfolk is also producing a numbered limited edition run of 10 ‘International' bikes, again featuring limited edition saddles by Brooks and S&S couplers and hand built by Shuichi Kusaka. Pricing depends on frame size and paint options. Nivaldo de Lima’s beautiful handbuilt bike bag, made with the finest hides specifically for the ‘International’ bike is also available at £2,500. De Lima can also produce the bespoke bag bike to order. For further information, email us.
‘City' bike, by Level, with saddle and briefcase by Brooks
Designed for the daily commute by the Japanese bike builder Shiko Matsuda, who works under the brand name Level, our 'City' bike (above) has a rider position that affords a clear view of the road ahead; drum brakes front and rear ensure effective braking even in the wet; and the brake and gear cabling is routed inside the frame tubing, preserving the bike's clean, uncluttered look. Instead of one crossbar, Matsuda opted to use two narrower tubes - leaving just enough space for a standard briefcase to sit on the broad down tube and so letting you keep an eye on your precious cargo.
It took two different firms to get the paint job in the 'City' bike just right. First the frame was dipped in chrome and coated with a mirror-gold finish by Tokyo firm Fuji Kogyo, then a deep grey and matt black was applied by a painter in nearby Kameari. It's a work of art in steel.
The bike’s briefcase was designed and created just for us by legendary saddle maker, Brooks. The bike also features a bespoke white Brooks B17 saddle with matching bar tape.
Getting hold of a Level bike usually requires a visit to Shiko Matsuda in person and in Tokyo but this one-off creation made exclusively for Wallpaper* is now available to buy (including brief case) at £1,255 (plus shipping). Please email us for all enquiries about the Level ‘City' bike or to place an order.
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Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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