Cycle Revolution

Things to do
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BucksPhotoDonky designed by Ben Wilson
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© Emily Maye
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© James Harris
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© Kein Arvak
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© Juan Trujillo Andrados
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The Design Museum celebrates all things bike, from cycling subcultures to the future of two-wheeled riding

The bicycle is the pinnacle of simple but effective human design. It has evolved from nineteenth-century push-along hobby horses through patently ridiculous penny farthing ‘ordinaries’ to the ubiquitous epitome of functionality it is today. So how do you improve on perfection? And why would you want to? This new exhibition at the Design Museum doesn’t answer those questions, but gives us plenty to think about. 

It’s not just a display of cool bikes, although obsessives can get within touching distance of some of the most iconic machines of the last 100 years. There’s Eddy Merckx’s steel lightweight that he used to smash the 1972 Hour Record, looking now like something you’d see locked up outside a pub. Compare this to the priceless modified Pinarello that Bradley Wiggins rode for the Paris-Roubaix race this year, with Flanders mud still on the chainstays, or perhaps the most unrecognisably high-tech bike ever, Chris Boardman’s 1992 Lotus Type 108.

But it’s not all so competitive. There’s an appearance from the Spacehopper of the bike world, the Raleigh Chopper. The exhibition is arranged around four ‘tribes’: as well as the High Performers above, there are the mountain bikes and BMXs of Thrill Seekers, Cargo Bikers, who transport goods (or kids) on their workhorse cycles, and plain old Urban Riders, which is probably most of us. London is well represented, with a courier’s battered runabout, a Brompton (made in Kew) and a heavy-but-handy Boris Bike. It’s all presented in context, with video interviews with famous (and not-so-famous) two-wheel enthusiasts.

The future is here too: wooden bikes, electric bikes, a tall bike, upright bikes. London probably ranks somewhere below Raqqa in the ‘least fun cities to cycle’ list, but with this much enthusiasm and hope, things might slowly change. Keep pedalling!

See our Time Out Offer for the chance to attend a late opening of Cycle Revolution

By: Euan Ferguson

Posted:

Average User Rating

4 / 5

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Tastemaker

If you like bikes then there is no other way to describe this exhibition than as ‘bicycle porn’. Bicycle tyre tracks lead you up into what I can only call bicycle heaven. If you’re not into cycling or bikes there is enough to keep you interested, be it learning about our triumphant London 2012 team, or how Chris Boardman broke world records on his Lotus made bike. If you’re a cycling nut, like my other half, then prepare to be there for some time. The exhibition really highlights the beauty of the design, showcases designers who make bespoke bikes (my boyfriend seems to want to commission at least three of them *face palm*) and champions cycling as an alternative transport. The exhibition successfully uses short videos to inform and contextualise. However, they could have done with multiple earphone sets on someone these so more people could listen at once.

Don’t miss this if you LOVE cycling. If you’re not so into the sport then you might be tugging at sleeves to leave. My other half would still be there if I hadn’t called it a day after 90 minutes… 

Tastemaker

A very thorough and detailed exhibition exploring the world of cycling. Interesting if you have a soft spot for the two wheeled sport - but maybe a little too much if you’re not an enthusiast.

Tastemaker

Although I'm not much of a cycler, this exhibit was informative and covered a wide range of cycling displays from the penny-farthing to Tour de France racing and the training that goes into being on the Olympic team. There were dozens of bicycles on display with write ups and videos to go along with them. There was also an interesting section explaining the promotion of a cycle culture in 10 cities around the world. Any avid cyclist would definitely enjoy this exhibition.

Tastemaker

Upon entering 'Cycle Revolution', the visitor is presented with the sleek, aerodynamic, gleaming machines which were ridden to glory by the likes of Froome, Wiggins and Hoy. Boards and display cases surrounding these iconic names and pinnacles of cycling design contain the training schedules and equipment which aid the athletes in achieving their victories. However, the exhibition does not just focus on the futuristic designs of the Olympics and the Tour de France; it also takes in day-to-day commuter bicycles, bulky cargo bikes and the staple of the city: the folding cycle.

The exhibition reveals that the basic design of the bicycle has not changed, indeed what you realise is that this machine is a long-standing favourite of designers eager to tweak an already perfect design, with one room detailing pioneering wooden-frames, half-bikes and even bike stands made to fit into the smallest of flat hallways.

The final film details the plans for further innovation regarding cycle safety in London, in the hope that more and more people will embrace a pastime that is already seeing a rapid resurgence in the city's car-choked streets.