It wasn’t all that long ago that local cycling clubs were highly populated and were integral cogs in the community machinery. Of course, for every ten smaller clubs that have disappeared to the sands of time there is one larger club that is thriving, and a lot of them have benefited from an updated identity.
Take Finland’s Lahden Pyöräilijät club, for example. Established in 1928, it’s one of the country’s oldest but in 2013, was in danger of disappearing. Luckily, one of the younger members is a graphic designer named Antti Peltonen who had a clear vision of how to keep membership strong.
What makes a successful brand? Integrity. If you couple that with good design, you’re onto a good thing. So when Antti decided to undertake the rebranding of his cycling club, he avoided “just designing a pretty surface like all those cool kits on Instagram”.
Instead he referenced the original blue and gold colors of the jerseys used by club members during the 50s and 60s. “The typography comes also from old annual publications published by the club. The colors blue and gold are the heraldic colors of Päijät-Häme region of which Lahti is the capital city of, and the Vellamo (goddess of water) character holding a cuckoo comes from the coat of arms of the Päijät-Häme region.”
“The jersey also has a hidden message in its back pocket, which is the lyrics to the regional anthem of Päijät-Häme with slight modifications. The lyrics originally tell of honourable men who gather glory with their skis, but just a few word changes make them cyclists and not skiers. (Lahti is the skiing capital of Finland and best known for its annually held World Cup winter games: the Lahti Ski Games).
“Even with all these historical and geographical references,” Antti tells us, “my goal was not however to create a retro or vintage cycling kit, but instead a very modern and unified appearance across everything the club makes. We wanted to be the first to really raise the level of design and branding in Finnish cycling. The growth of our club in just two years from zero to almost 150 members is proof that we have done something right, and we have also sold several team kits abroad to international support members because the demand has been high.”
Antti made use of Festka’s Made4Champs program, which offers discounted models to professional and amateur teams, including liveries and kits. The Asphalt is Festka’s titanium frame and the LT uses an even more severely butted top tube.
“From the comments I have received from Festka and Campagnolo,” Antti says, “they have been excited about our club also. That is heart-warming because I personally hold both companies in high regard.” They’re pretty high commendations to receive, and they’re well-deserved.
“The club races mainly on road and also MTB; track racing is not so big in Finland because we don’t have indoor velodromes and the winter is long. The MTB scene is strong however, and we have top-level Finnish Marathon / XCO racers and even two bike-orienteering World Champions in the club. There are many do-it-all guys who participate in road, mtb, cross and even track events.
“Of our ~120 club members approximately 30 are Elite- and Master class racers, and some of the Festka bikes will be seen in Finnish peloton this season.” Lahden Pyöräilijät is a club with a long history, and with this refreshed identity, looks set to continue its legacy.
It would be a travesty if the value of your local cycling club was reduced to a group on Strava. There’s a lot of new cyclists around — a club is the perfect way of nurturing their enthusiasm, and it doesn’t have to be through early morning bunch rides. It’s all about building a community.
Have a look at what Antti did for the Lahden Pyöräilijät club on the Burobraaf site.