New York’s Museum of Art and Design presents twenty-one hand-built bicycles by six internationally renowned bicycle builders, May 13 – August 15, 2010.
Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle
This exhibition features the designs of six internationally renowned bicycle builders who have authored some of the most revolutionary developments in their craft. Through their manipulation of steel, aluminum and titanium, these artisans produce racing bicycles for champion athletes, mountain and cyclocross bicycles for negotiating vertiginous terrain, urban bicycles for stylishly transporting commuters, and elegantly stripped down randonneur bicycles for epic journeys.
From the late 1880s, when the modern bicycle was invented, through the mid-20th century, when the explosive popularity of recreational cycling led to a sharp rise in factory production, bicycles were often crafted by hand to precisely fit a rider’s measurements and tastes. This practice continued through the increasingly health-conscious, oil-depleted 1970s, particularly for growing ranks of competitive cyclists.
In the 1980s and 1990s the demand for handbuilt bicycles was eclipsed by the popularity of costly factory-produced racing bikes endorsed (if not actually ridden) by star cyclists. Custom frame builders also had to contend with a new and booming market for mass-manufactured mountain bikes. Over the past decade, renewed interest in craft, coupled with a rising social movement favoring the durable over the disposable and supporting cycling’s physical and environmental benefits, has contributed to a revival of handbuilt bicycles and fostered a new generation of artisans and clientele.
Prominent among young builders is Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles in Portland, Oregon. White maintains a global reputation for design and fabrication excellence as well as a deep historical knowledge of bicycle making. Michael Maharam, a New York entrepreneur, cyclist, and bicycle collector, and the curator of this exhibition, invited White to collaborate on the selection of participants and their work. The partnership, a dialogue between constructor and aesthete, illuminates the many dimensions of a vocation that sits squarely at the intersection of art, design, and craft.
Bespoke is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated, 128-page catalog, which includes candid portraits of each of the builders, along with detail photography of all of the bicycles. For more information about the catalog, please call The Store at 212-299-7700.
Mike Flanigan, Alternative Needs Transportation (A.N.T.), Holliston, MA.
Jeff Jones, Jeff Jones Custom Bicycles, Medford, OR
Dario Pegoretti, Pegoretti Cicli, Caldonazzo, Italy
Richard Sachs, Richard Sachs Cycles, Warwick, MA
Peter Weigle, JP Weigle Cycles, Lyme, CT
Sacha White, Vanilla Bicycles, Portland, OR