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Making It

11 Of The World's Hottest Bikes

A new book profiles the bike makers who are creating some of the most drool-inducing and innovative rides around.

  • <p>Founded in 2002, <a href="http://www.geekhousebikes.com/about/" target="_blank">Geekhouse Bikes</a> is a custom steel TIG welding operation based in Boston.</p>
  • <p>The Rockcity frame starts at about $1,300.</p>
  • <p>This particular model is owned by photographer Heather McGrath.</p>
  • <p>The Universal Bike made its debut at the Oregon Manifest in 2011. Designed by Manuel Saez,it features a frame made from two parallel, continuous loops, which allow riders to adjust their riding position from relaxed to agressive.</p>
  • <p>This e-bike, produced by German brand <a href="http://www.electrolyte.cc/de/" target="_blank">Electrolyte</a>, features a lightweight handcrafted frame made of aluminum or titanium and carbon.</p>
  • <p>A 36 volt battery (hence the bike’s name) powers the small 250-watt hub motor. When the motor isn’t activated, the bike functions as an ordinary single-speed.</p>
  • <p>Wait, "Where’s the battery?" you ask. German architect Hadi Teherani figured out how to tuck a rechargeable accumulator batter into the removable handlebar bag. He also integrated a speedometer and an iPhone cradle into the cockpit navigation and concealed the connection between the bag and the motor mounted to the front wheel.</p>
  • <p>Dutch designer <a href="http://www.jangunneweg.nl/en" target="_blank">Jan Gunneweg</a> sculpts bespoke wooden bikes from his workshop in Alkmaar. He’s planning to introduce a lower-priced wooden bicycle line.</p>
  • <p>Peter Laibacher, of the German brand <a href="http://www.pelagro.de/de/index.html" target="_blank">Pelagro</a>, has been creating custom bikes since 2008. For the ultra aerodynamic 764, he drew inspiration from Ducati’s trellis frame.</p>
  • <p>San Francisco–based studio <a href="http://www.shape-sf.com/2011/07/shape-field-bike.html" target="_blank">Shape Field Office</a> partnered with Nicholas Riddle, a framebuilder and founder of the Urban Mobility Lab at California College of the Arts, to create this handsome porteur-style conveyance.</p>
  • <p>The custom head badge.</p>
  • <p>The bike features a frame made of Columbus SL tubing, internal cable routing, Paul Component brake calipers, honjo fenders, custom double taper seat stays, and a custom cable hanger.</p>
  • <p>The cork stoppers of the removable front rack.</p>
  • <p>The designers’ homage to 50 Cent.</p>
  • <p>The front rack can support up to 80 pounds.</p>
  • <p>Since its beginnings in 1911, <a href="http://www.skeppshultbikes.com/" target="_blank">Skeppshult</a> has maintained manufacturing autonomy at its Skeppshult, Sweden, factory. For the award-winning Z bike, the legacy company collaborated with industrial designer <a href="http://www.dahlstromdesign.se/" target="_blank">Björn Dahlström</a> to create an elegant bike with high-end components and an architectural frame.</p>
  • <p>Utrecht-based <a href="http://www.eliancycles.com/" target="_blank">Elian Veltman</a> created one of the more elegant cargo bikes we’ve seen. The custom-made five-speed front-loader has a steering hub that eliminates the need for a front fork.</p>
  • <p>This stealthy-looking machine was built by Bran Meres in his Bratislava, Slovakia, studio, where he designs bike frames out of carbon and bamboo. For X-9 Nighthawk, he water-jet cut honeycomb sandwich panels and laminated them in carbon fiber.</p>
  • <p>Legendary furniture maker Thonet commissioned <a href="http://www.andymartinstudio.com/" target="_blank">Andy Martin</a> and his London-based studio to design this limited-edition roadster, marrying the low-tech methods that Michael Thonet used to build his 1830s chairs with 21st-century technology. Martin didn’t rely entirely on traditional steam-bending techniques but employed a CNC machine to cut and join the wood frame, which sits on off-the-shelf carbon wheels. Such craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap; you can get yours for $70,000.</p>
  • 01 /20 | Heather's Rockcity, Geekhouse Bikes

    Founded in 2002, Geekhouse Bikes is a custom steel TIG welding operation based in Boston.

  • 02 /20 | Heather's Rockcity, Geekhouse Bikes

    The Rockcity frame starts at about $1,300.

  • 03 /20 | Heather's Rockcity, Geekhouse Bikes

    This particular model is owned by photographer Heather McGrath.

  • 04 /20 | Brooklyness, Universal Bike

    The Universal Bike made its debut at the Oregon Manifest in 2011. Designed by Manuel Saez,it features a frame made from two parallel, continuous loops, which allow riders to adjust their riding position from relaxed to agressive.

  • 05 /20 | 36 Volt, Electrolyte

    This e-bike, produced by German brand Electrolyte, features a lightweight handcrafted frame made of aluminum or titanium and carbon.

  • 06 /20 | 36 Volt, Electrolyte

    A 36 volt battery (hence the bike’s name) powers the small 250-watt hub motor. When the motor isn’t activated, the bike functions as an ordinary single-speed.

  • 07 /20 | Electronic Bike, Hadi Teherani

    Wait, "Where’s the battery?" you ask. German architect Hadi Teherani figured out how to tuck a rechargeable accumulator batter into the removable handlebar bag. He also integrated a speedometer and an iPhone cradle into the cockpit navigation and concealed the connection between the bag and the motor mounted to the front wheel.

  • 08 /20 | Bough Bike, Jan Gunneweg

    Dutch designer Jan Gunneweg sculpts bespoke wooden bikes from his workshop in Alkmaar. He’s planning to introduce a lower-priced wooden bicycle line.

  • 09 /20 | 764, Pelagro

    Peter Laibacher, of the German brand Pelagro, has been creating custom bikes since 2008. For the ultra aerodynamic 764, he drew inspiration from Ducati’s trellis frame.

  • 10 /20 | Shape Field Bike, Shape Field Office

    San Francisco–based studio Shape Field Office partnered with Nicholas Riddle, a framebuilder and founder of the Urban Mobility Lab at California College of the Arts, to create this handsome porteur-style conveyance.

  • 11 /20 | Shape Field Bike, Shape Field Office

    The custom head badge.

  • 12 /20 | Shape Field Bike, Shape Field Office

    The bike features a frame made of Columbus SL tubing, internal cable routing, Paul Component brake calipers, honjo fenders, custom double taper seat stays, and a custom cable hanger.

  • 13 /20 | Shape Field Bike, Shape Field Office

    The cork stoppers of the removable front rack.

  • 14 /20 | Shape Field Bike, Shape Field Office

    The designers’ homage to 50 Cent.

  • 15 /20 | Shape Field Bike, Shape Field Office

    The front rack can support up to 80 pounds.

  • 16 /20 | Z Bike, Skeppshult

    Since its beginnings in 1911, Skeppshult has maintained manufacturing autonomy at its Skeppshult, Sweden, factory. For the award-winning Z bike, the legacy company collaborated with industrial designer Björn Dahlström to create an elegant bike with high-end components and an architectural frame.

  • 17 /20 | Cargobike, Elian Cycles

    Utrecht-based Elian Veltman created one of the more elegant cargo bikes we’ve seen. The custom-made five-speed front-loader has a steering hub that eliminates the need for a front fork.

  • 18 /20 | X-9 Nighthawk, Brano Meres

    This stealthy-looking machine was built by Bran Meres in his Bratislava, Slovakia, studio, where he designs bike frames out of carbon and bamboo. For X-9 Nighthawk, he water-jet cut honeycomb sandwich panels and laminated them in carbon fiber.

  • 19 /20 | X-9 Nighthawk, Brano Meres
  • 20 /20 | Thonet Bentwood Concept, Andy Martin Studio

    Legendary furniture maker Thonet commissioned Andy Martin and his London-based studio to design this limited-edition roadster, marrying the low-tech methods that Michael Thonet used to build his 1830s chairs with 21st-century technology. Martin didn’t rely entirely on traditional steam-bending techniques but employed a CNC machine to cut and join the wood frame, which sits on off-the-shelf carbon wheels. Such craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap; you can get yours for $70,000.

New York City’s soon-to-be-launched bike-sharing program has met with Big Apple-size skepticism. It’s too dangerous for a city with so little cycling infrastructure, detractors cry. The bike stations are too ugly (and a blight on historic neighborhoods), and the bikes themselves are crass advertisements for their corporate underwriter, Citibank. Regardless of whether those criticisms are fair, the program does reveal the fact that bike culture—the lifestyle most often associated with the Netherlands and, on this side of the pond, Portland, Oregon—is riding into the mainstream.

New York may not become Amsterdam anytime soon. But even here, interest has fueled daring experiments in bike construction and fashion. Supported by technological advances, designers are sculpting novel materials (wood, bamboo, carbon fiber, and even cardboard) into breathtakingly novel forms. Never before has there been such a range of rides—from porteurs and cargos to folding and e-bikes—and as many lightweight frames and components. The best are catalogued in Velo: Second Gear, a new book from Gestalten, a collection of profiles of the makers who are on the bleeding edge of bike engineering.

Most of the examples in the slide show are custom-made, handcrafted, limited-edition pieces for the select few who can afford them. But they are also indicators of an exciting moment in the evolution of the bicycle as an object, as well as the foundation for a growing movement that may even come to thrive in hard-hearted New York.

Buy Velo here for $37.

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Heather McGrath; 02 / Heather McGrath; 03 / Heather McGrath;

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