Cycle Revolution: Design Museum takes the bike up a gear with new exhibition

London is fast becoming a cycling city; the introduction of the ‘Boris Bikes’ in 2010 initiating a chain reaction of bike enthusiasm. For many, it makes sense to take a mode of transport that is cheaper and better for the environment whilst simultaneously a form of exercise; escaping the dreaded underground in rush hour is also somewhat appealing.

Following the recent cycling hype after the Olympics and Tour de France, and the newly constructed Cycle Super Highways in the city, 2015 seems the perfect time to celebrate the evolution of the (not so) humble bicycle. In their new exhibition, the Design Museum is championing the design and craftsmanship of this ever-popular two-wheeled contraption; roll in Cycle Revolution.

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Cycle Revolution opened on Tuesday night to press, family and friends, and LO:PA was lucky enough to attend this preview of the exhibition. The opening was sponsored by Mortlach whisky, meaning that the evening was one of single malt cocktails, good vibes, and bikes. A lot of bikes. Guests sipped on whisky sours whilst the new exhibition was introduced, before checking out the array of cycle-related displays.

According to statistics, cycling has not been as popular as it is today since the Second World War, and it is hardly surprising looking at the utter awesomeness of the bicycle. From the daily commuter to the Olympic racer, bikes of all shapes and sizes are featured in this cycling display. Four subcultures of biking ‘tribes’ are focused on; the High Performers, the Thrill Seekers, the Urban Riders and the Cargo Bikers, proving the diversity and variety in the jobs the bike can do.

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Take a look ar Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France set of wheels, engineered by Jaguar and Pinarello, alongside the classic 1970 Raleigh Chopper – bikes for all situations are on display. A pillar-box red carbon fibre bike owned by Tracy Moseley, the 2015 World Downhill Champion, was sleek yet sturdy; Paralympian adapted bicycles revealed ingenious design and construction.

The evolution of the bicycle over time was fascinating; comparing an 1888 Rover safety bicycle to the foldable Brompton bicycles now so familiar on the morning commute proved highly interesting. As well as the actual bikes, Cycle Revolution features various helmets (including a bizarre inflatable one) and biking attire, all cleverly designed to be efficient on a ride. Bikes of the future could be wooden, I learned, and Cargo bikes (whether for deliveries, or kids on the school run) are becoming increasingly popular.

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Admittedly, I entered Cycle Revolution with an overriding impression that a bike is a bike is a bike. How wrong I was. The Design Museum’s stunning exhibition proved a winner for bike enthusiasts and cycle newbies alike, and showed the complete variety and innovative craftsmanship of the bicycle. The message was clear: the bike, continuously gaining in popularity, is a thing of beauty and pioneering design, and something which is definitely worth celebrating. Having been to Cycle Revolution, I now utterly agree. I left the room of wheels, the glasses of whisky and the aura of enthusiasm for the two-wheeled contraption we all know and love wishing that instead of the tube, I could cycle home.

Photo credits: Emily Maye

Cycle Revolution will be on display at the Design Museum until June 30th 2016. 

Hari Mountford
Hari Mountford

Angharad Mountford (Hari) is a London-based writer interested in all things arts and culture. Alongside studying for an MA, she is always exploring independent cafes, quirky bars and on the lookout for the latest performances on a (slight) budget. She writes about the London lifestyle on her blog www.londonsmylobster.wordpress.com.

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