The culture of cycling shows no signs of slowing down, which is ironic — considering society’s increasingly fervent fascination with a slower pace of life. Gestalten’s new VELO City provides an essential snapshot of our culture as it currently stands.
This is the fourth book on bicycle culture that Gestalten has published and, like all of their titles, is superbly produced and edited. The photography is rich and professional, and the printing and finishing are excellent.
I have to admit, I’m a bit biased. Earlier this year, Gestalten’s awesomely-named Mobility Editor, Maximilian Funk, emailed me wondering whether I was interested in contributing to the book and, as it was kind of like a dream come true, agreed.
Max briefed me on writing a few of the major profile stories, which included some names both familiar and unfamiliar to me, and it was a truly interesting experience to research them all, becoming aware of just how diverse the bicycle world is.
To tell the truth, even as a self-confessed velo-bibliophile, I’d skipped over the previous editions of Velo as I thought they focused a little too heavily on the fixie phenomenon — which, for all its worth, never fixated me as much as classic road bikes.
As a publisher of beautiful books on contemporary culture, Gestalten really does have its finger on the pulse: Velo City seems to have matured into a synopsis of refined bicycle design and the social significance of cycling in the modern city.
The full gamut of two-wheeled accouterments and accessories are represented, from makers of bespoke baggage, baskets and futuristic helmets to the ultimate in wall-mounting equipment for your favorite bike.
Even if you have no intention or desire to hang it on a wall, it’s worth admiring their inventiveness and craft. And on that note, one reason that I would purchase Velo City to include it in my own library is the obvious emphasis on the custom frame builder.
To be fair, there’s an equal prominence of ebikes, which is unsurprising, given their current momentum (no pun intended) and the variety of their contemporary designs. The contrast between traditionally-made steel bikes and the ebikes is profound.
In fact, after reading the finalized publication, I’m quite excited about the future of ebikes. However, I can only look forward to the day when our custom frame builders can start combining the beauty of their creations with electronic technology.
It was a real pleasure finding out about Santa Cruz’s Frances Cycles and builder Joshua Muir’s cargo bikes. He’s making some really incredible machines in an awesome location, and I’m glad the editors of VELO City chose to include his work.
So too with Sven Cycles, and Darron Coppin’s amazing Foraging Bike. Darron is one of the few builders embracing electronic technology and, as a result, has been making some of the world’s most beautiful ebikes.
Apart from Sven Cycles, the only ebike that really made an impression on me over the last year was Lithium Cycles’ Super 73 Scout. It’s like a fun Baja bike rearing to be taken out for a fun weekend, in the vein of a modded Honda 110cc.
There’s a stack of stories in this book, from Bryan Hollingsworth of Royal H Cycles, the legacy of Alex Singer, the elaborate work of Helio Ascari, Chapman Cycles, Pashley Cycles and many more — all producing the world’s most beautiful bicycles.
The main focus of VELO City is handcrafted steel bikes, ebikes and cargo bikes, and whether you’re interested in one, all or none of those fields, a quick read will still get you excited for your next ride.
This review provides only a glimpse into the variety of bikes and people contained within the pages of VELO City. It’s a vital addition to the cyclists’ library — yours or a family member or friend — and an inspiring insight into the future of cycling.
Ask for it at your local bookshop.
Format: 24 × 28 cm
Features: Full color, hardcover, 256 pages
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