It seemed only fitting to arrive at an exhibition about all things cycling on two wheels. As such, we recently rolled up at the Design Museum in London on a rental bike, before venturing inside to look at the assembled bike porn which is the Cycle Revolution exhibition. Here's our pick of the most interesting items on show, including iconic machines ridden by sporting heroes, and some decidedly more out-there cycles.
The Cycle Revolution exhibition has been put together by the Design Museum to celebrate the diversity of contemporary cycling in Britain. Items on show include classic bikes including high-end performance machines ridden by the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Boardman, along with the odd Raleigh Chopper and the earliest prototype folding Brompton in existence.
The exhibition sets out to examine the current cycling revolution by looking at four distinct subcultures – High Performer speed-freaks, Thrill Seekers who take on all terrains, Urban Riders who commute around cities, and Cargo Bikers who work on their two wheels. The exhibition also looks at independent bike-builders, future cycles, and how cities are becoming more cycle-friendly.
Entering into the High Performers section, cycling fans are confronted by an Anglo-centric array of instantly recognizable bikes which have been ridden by cycling luminaries like Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Boardman. In fact, even those who don't know their forks from their seat posts will probably recognize a number of these famous cycles.
While Chris Hoy's Great Britain London 2012 Olympic Track Bike stands pride of place, other performance machines on show include Sir Bradley Wiggins's 2015 Hour Record bike, the Lotus Type 108 ridden by Chris Boardman at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and Eddy Merckx's tubular steel Hour Record bike from 1972.
Moving into the Thrill Seekers area, the bikes on show have clearly been designed to thrive on all terrains rather than for out and out speed. Here highlights range from a Specialized Stumpjumper from 1983 (the first mass-produced mountain bike), to Tracy Moseley's carbon fiber Trek Remedy with 29-inch wheels, enhanced suspension and an electronic gear shifting system.
There's also a single-speed BMX with an aluminum frame, carbon fiber forks and titanium spokes which was used by world champion Shanaze Reade, and videos of Danny MacAskill doing the sort of tricks he's famous for.
However, not all bikes are designed to be pushed to their limits by professional athletes. Around the corner from the aforementioned performance machines is a history of much more mundane, urban commuter bikes. On show is a Rover Safety Bicycle from 1888, along with original prototype models of the Moulton Bicycle through to more modern versions of the famous suspension-totting bikes.
There's also the oldest known example of a folding Brompton bike, a prototype from 1976, and more quirky commuter bikes like a folding Strida SX, an X-Bike. There's even one of the Santander Cycles (more commonly known as a Boris bike) you see all around London, and which we'd arrived on.
Cargo bikes also get an outing with the Boxer Rocket seeming to get a lot of attention thanks to its airstream-style side car, which can be used as an adult seat or a child's bed. A bright green Donky Bike, which uses a strong steel frame inspired by BMX components, to give riders a good way of moving things around cities, was also getting a fair few glances from visitors.
Other sections of the show feature interesting work from independent British bike builders, and a look at how cities around the world are attempting to redesign their streets to get more people pedaling. A future bike section includes plenty of wooden cycles, 3D-printed frames, along with weird and wonderful bikes of all shapes and sizes.
Cycle Revolution is a fascinating insight into the culture of British cycling. There's plenty here to keep bike fans enthralled, and maybe even to inspire the pedal-adverse to hop on two wheels.
Given its location and the rise of British cycling, the exhibition can be forgiven for being somewhat Anglo-centric, though we'd ideally have also liked to see a bit more detail about the history of cycle design.
The Cycle Revolution exhibition continues until June 30th. If you can't make it there in person, you can check out all of the aforementioned bikes, along with plenty of others, in our photo gallery.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more