at The Design Museum
Until 30th June 2016
Cycling has never been more popular in the UK. A fact doubtless not unconnected with our national cycling successes of recent years. With our Tour de France road heroes, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish and our Olympic velodrome stars Sir Chris Hoy, Joanna Rowsell and Victoria Pendleton, as a nation we are enjoying an unparalleled purple patch of success on two wheels. And it’s not only as a spectator sport that we are entranced by all things powered by pedals. Cycling as a pastime, for exercise or commuting has never been more in vogue. It is against this backdrop that London’s Design Museum has opened its latest exhibition, Cycle Revolution, which looks at both the professional and amateur sides of our national biking obsession.
For this exhibition The Design Museum has covered its walls from floor to ceiling with some of the world’s most iconic bikes, amongst them Chris Hoy’s Olympic Track bike, the Lotus Type 108 ridden by Chris Boardman at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and Francesco Moser’s 1984 Hour Record bike, loaned for the exhibition from the personal collection of Sir Bradley Wiggins. Perhaps the most precious bike on show in the exhibition is Eddy Merckx’s 1972 Hour Record bike, a simple-looking machine but one which holds a special significance for any aficionado of cycling history.
As well as these historically important bikes, the world of elite cycling is represented in the exhibition with video footage of some famous races and insights from our cycling knights, Hoy and Wiggins. Cycling apparel from the highest echelons of the sport gets a look-in with not only an Olympic skintight Lycra cycling suit worn by Sir Chris Hoy on show but also examples of the iconic Tour de France yellow jersey and the prized world champion’s rainbow jersey. Some signed examples of the famous jerseys in the show coming from the private memorabilia collection of British designer and cycling fan, Sir Paul Smith.
Most of us can only marvel from afar at the talent, effort and achievements of our cycling gods and goddesses but thankfully Cycle Revolution provides a look at the more accessible side of cycling. The exhibition has an absolutely brilliant selection of bikes in this section, some commonplace, some familiar wheels from the past and some very much more recherché examples. There are Pashleys and Moultons, a Raleigh Chopper from the 1970s, a wonderful line of BMX bikes climbing, E.T.-style, up the wall as well as Bromptons, Bickertons and Boris bikes. The wonderful world of cargo bikes is explored with some extraordinary carrying contraptions like the Donky bike and the glorious Boxer Rocket, a covetable carriage of aluminium beauty. There are also prototypes galore, some created specifically for this exhibition – the bike made entirely from wood by designer Paul Timmer stands out in what is a very strong section of the exhibition looking at the future of bicycle design.
The show ends with a wonderful piece of film in which high profile cyclists including Lord Norman Foster, Sir Paul Smith and Dame Vivienne Westwood talk about what cycling means to them and their hopes for the future of one of this country’s most popular pastimes. Whether you are a fan of cycling or just a fan of good innovative design there is much pedal-powered pleasure to be found in Cycle Revolution. Highly recommended.
The exhibition is open until 30th June.
Photographs © The London Art File
Under 6s Free
Open: Daily 10am – 5.45pm
Shad Thames SE1
Design Museum to move in 2016
Cycle Revolution is the final exhibition to be held at the Design Museum’s present home in Shad Thames, SE1. Following the close of this exhibition on 30th June, the Design Museum will move across London to Kensington, where it will open in its new home, the former Commonwealth Institute building, in late 2016.