London Calling With a Cycle Revolution

If you happen to be London-bound, check out Cycle Revolution, the exhibition that opened this week at the Design Museum. The Guardian calls this survey of contemporary cycling in Britain “a dream for all who love two wheels.”

The exhibition focuses primarily on the past decade, a bicycling hotbed on many fronts with ascendance of British racing stars like Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Chris Hoy and Joanna Rowsell, and, on the urban scene, with Boris bikes, cycling superhighways and SkyCycle, a proposal by Lord Norman Foster to construct a vast network of bicycle paths above London, in the spotlight.

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Virtual travelers can follow @designmuseum and the hashtag #cyclerevolution for glimpses of the galleries via Instagram. Clockwise from upper left, photos by @disegnodaily, @ladyvelo, @belleswhisky, @londonartfile, @ladyvelo and @singyamatokun

Cycle Revolution explores four categories or “tribes:” High Performers, the road racers; Thrill Seekers who embrace all terrains; Urban Riders who ply cities on two wheels; and Cargo Bikers, or working cyclists. Thus, sleek racing machines like Wiggins’s 2015 Hour Record bike and 2014 World Championship Time Trial bike share exhibit space with iconic mountain bikes like the 1978 Breezer Series 1, the earliest prototype of the Brompton folding bicycle and cargo bikes for postal delivery.

The galleries display bicycles, clothing, accessories and gear, as well as film and photography. The show also explores bike builders’ materials, tools and skills and profiles the craft of six British independent bike builders.

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Urban cycling is represented with displays of folding and cargo bikes.

Finally, Cycle Revolution looks ahead to how design and innovation, in bicycles and in cycling infrastructure, might influence the future.

The only thing better than visiting the London show would be to see a similar survey here. Bicycle design last got the New York City museum treatment in 2010 with Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle hosted by the Museum of Arts and Design. It examined the intersection of design, craft and art through examples of 21 hand-built bicycles crafted by six internationally renowned builders, including six Americans.  The city has since seen the founding, in 2013, of an annual hand-built bicycle show, Bike Cult, which showcases the work of local and regional hand builders. And smaller exhibits have included a recent display of bikes and memorabilia from the collection of American road cycling legend Greg LeMond at the Rapha Cycle Club.

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Among the racing bikes on show: Eddy Merckx’s hour record bike from 1972.

Given the ever-growing popularity of cycling in our city, plus the fascination in general with bicycles in art, culture and popular media – and the imperative to explore the future of cycling in the face of continued urban growth – maybe it’s time for New York City to delve into its own cycle revolution.

Meanwhile, the show in London, which runs through June 30, is the finale at the Design Museum’s current London Bridge riverside home. The museum moves to larger quarters in Kensington in 2016

Learn more: Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, London, designmuseum.org 

Photos: James Harris/Dezeen

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