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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Cycle Revolution at the Design Museum

This exhibition has been on our hit lists since the autumn changeover period its alluring press release with no images and only a brief outline of the objects that would be on display and an expectation of some sexy looking bikes left us gagging for more, bikes are sexy and an exhibition at the Design Museum on the tribes, expertise and social justice that cycles can provide was bound to leave us sated.

The exhibition intends to explore how the last decade has seen a huge leap in the number of cyclists on the road, the diversity of modern cycling and the bombardment of accessories, styles, photography and clothing available for cyclists. It does just that by aligning Cyclist tribes as the curator states in the text panel ‘The bicycle represents different things to different people’ exercise, transport, identity, cargo holder  the exhibition right from the start almost points out the ethnographic aspect of UK cyclists. And as a recent member of the cycling commuter club (eek!) the exhibition played another role of representing the community in which I ride.

Aside from the feeling  of community this collection of objects evokes, the exhibition also provides an opportunity to see someone off objects from British icons such as Sir Bradley Wiggins’s 2015 Hour Record bike and 2014 World Championship Time Trial bike and Sir Chris Hoy’s Great Britain Cycling Team London 2012 Olympic Track bike alongside a collection of iconic Cycling Jerseys on loan to the museum from Designer Paul Smith.

Next up the exhibition takes a look at the Thrill Seekers and two incredible stories the first of Peckham BMX club with experts of the Film 1 way up exploring how the build of a BMX track in Peckham, South London offered an alternative to some of the toughest gangs of London in the wake of the London riots. 

Cycle Revolution even features a mock up cycle workshop with wing the tools, materials and skills that combine to create a bespoke machine. Six independent British bike builders are profiled - Donhou Bicycles, Toad Custom Cycles, Hartley Cycles, Robin Mather Cycles, Mercian Cycles and Shand Cycles moving swiftly on to the commuter bikes and lastly looks at the future of cycling in London and how it is dictating the layout of the city. In this section we see the more odd and beautiful concept designs that could change the way we cycle in years to come.

This exhibition is a mixture of filthy bycyle porn,  seeing cycling as a tool for social change for communities  and iconic fashion. The objects are one off and mass produced but are alluring in every manner.  Design wise, the exhibition offered a great walk through the tribes of cycling but I was disappointed to see a couple of empty showcases but as the last to be hosted by the museum in this space before their move to Kensington  we can perhaps let this slide. 

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