Vintage Bicycle

Eclectic mix of bicycle stuff

The intersection of art and fashion with sport is always fascinating to me. The collision of state of the art cycling shoes wrapped with vintage images exploring the sport’s rich history is a great example. Clearly cycling is a passion for U.K. based artist James Straffon who has exactingly decoupaged cycling shoes with historic racing memorabilia. Most recently Straffon collaborated with cycling brand Rapha to create a shoe to commemorate the introduction of their new yak leather shoe, the Grand Tour.

When speaking about creating the shoe Straffon claims, “Working on the Rapha Grand Tour shoe was a daunting task. The decoupage needed to sit well with the company ethos. It also had to exist as an embellishment to the already apparent ‘beauty’ of the raw object, and not speak a different aesthetic language. In addition, much trepidation arose when my usual working method introduced resin-coated sanding papers to fine Yak leather. Not a moment for the faint-hearted. Grand Tour was a journey in itself.”

Straffon chose his images carefully. One flank features the line-up of the very first ‘Grand Départ’ in 1903, outside the Café Reveil-Matin, Montgeron, France. Eventual inaugural Tour de France winner Maurice Garin can be seen poised at the far right. The fated 1967 Tour is also honoured, with reference to Stage 13, Marseille to Carpentras, where Tom Simpson died the slopes of the Ventoux. Barry Hoban’s consequent Stage 14 victory is also represented. Merckx, Rivière, and Géminiani are also featured in the subtle interlocking of images.

Straffon has also collaged shoes donated by cycling stars David Millar and Bradley Wiggins. The shoes will be part of a solo exhibit of Straffon’s cycling based works LE TOUR – from maillot jaune to lanterne rouge opening June 30th at Snap Galleries in London.

David Millar’s re-envisioned shoe

Bradley Wiggin’s wonderfully modified shoe


For more cycling inspiration click here.

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Thanks for your notes asking where I’ve been lately as my blog posts have been pretty sparce. All is OK, I’ve just been very busy with multiple studio projects, and my day-to-day life. I have more ideas for my blog than I have time to follow up with. I’ve been  jotting them down in a little notebook that I keep on my desk so I won’t  forget them.

The unusually early arrival of spring has me disoriented. I’ve been straddling two seasons – skiing and cycling. On one hand I’ve been hanging onto the snow, and with the other thinking how nice it is to ride in shorts!

Snow will win out as I’m off to the Alps for a ski tour in a couple of weeks. Getting gear together for trips and getting work squared away before departing is always madness. I suspect that I won’t be very regular about posting for the next few weeks! And hopefully you’re off someplace nice for a spring break too!

Above Luxembourger and astounding climber, Charly Gaul climbs a snowbank lined and muddy road at the 1957 Giro d’Italia. He was called “The Angel of the Mountains”.

From: Cycling’s Golden Age; Heros of the Post War Era 1946-1967


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This “mini Masi” photo caught my eye on Fixed Gear Girl Taiwan, not only because of the edelweiss apron the guy is wearing but because I once owned a Masi Gran Criterium made by the Italian frame building maestro, Faliero Masi. I loved that bike and logged well over 20,000 miles on it. I retired it after I crashed it in a criterium in Washington D.C. It belongs to a woodworker now and is sometimes covered with sawdust.

I don’t know the origins of this picture, whether it is an actual miniature frame with components, perhaps being held by the maestro himself, or just a very clever Photoshop job. I’m not actually even sure it is a Masi since I can’t quite read the lettering on the down tube, My quick google search to learn more left me empty handed. If anyone can shed any light on this photo, please let me know!

Mini Masi

You might also like Vintage Cycling Toys

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Sometimes the best ideas are so simple that I wonder to myself, “why didn’t I think of that?”. (Bottled ice tea comes to mind). These buttons, from Buzzworks, which celebrate bike racing and its’ heritage are awesome! So simple, yet communicate so much about le cyclisme! The 24mm buttons come in 3-packs.




(Greg and Joop are also available)

For more Two-wheeled inspiration click here.

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Note the spare tire laced around the cyclist’s upper torso and the double waterbottle holster on the handlebars in this official 1965 poster for La Vuelta a España stage race. The bulls add a nice Spanish touch. German cyclist Rolf Wolfshohl won the race that year.

The 66th edition of the race begins today in Benidorm, Spain.

Vuelta 1965

For more two wheeled inspiration click here.

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

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130 year old legendary French sporting brand Le Coq Sportif has something to crow about at this year’s Tour de France. Once again they are providing the prestigious Yellow, Green, Polka Dot and White jerseys for the race. Le Coq made jerseys for Le Tour starting in 1951 until 1988 when Castelli moved onto the scene. Nike was involved from 1996 to 2010.

maillot jaune

1951 Tour de France winner Hugo Koblet’s wool “maillot jaune”. Note the pointed collar and button front placket, a style which disappeared a few years later. Jerseys made prior to the introduction of synthetic fabrics in the late 70′s had button front pockets like the ones shown here. The Le Coq label is visible at the neckline.

Le Coq

An evolution of Le Coq Sportif logo. Via: Cycling Art Blog

Eddy Mercx_1974Tour_ViaLeCoqSportif

1974 Tour champion Eddy Mercx in Le Coq’s yellow jersey. Via: Le Coq Sportif

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board game 1.5

Vintage Cycling Toys


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Today professional cyclists will line up for the start of the famous one-day French classic cycling race, Paris-Roubaix. Often called “The Hell of the North” or a “Sunday In Hell” because of the kilometer long sections of jarringly torturous cobbles that the riders must navigate.

First run in 1896, Paris–Roubaix is one of cycling’s toughest and oldest races. Since 1977, the winner of Paris–Roubaix has received a sett (cobble stone) as part of his prize.

Here are some classic photos of past races.


An undated file photo shows Maurice Garin posing with an unidentified man. Italian-born Garin twice won Paris-Roubaix (1897-98) before winning the first edition of the Tour de France in 1903. AFP PHOTO/FILES

Andre Leducq

1928 winner Andre Leducq. AFP Photo

Paris-Roubaix 1934

The peloton passes through Cardin in 1934. AFP PHOTO

You might also be interested in this post or excellent cycling photos by Chris Milliman.

Photos via: VeloNews

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These vintage cycling toys bring back memories of my first solo adventure. Just after college I toured around Europe, skiing and visiting museums and friends, my only luggage a backpack and a ski bag.

I made two memorable purchases that trip. One was a down duvet for my bed (they weren’t available in the U.S. back then), which I crammed into my ski bag, and a toy model of a Tour de France team vehicle. The latter became slightly problematic as I didn’t want to remove the lime green Renault from it’s box, for fear that the tiny bicycles and extra wheel sets clipped to the roof rack would snap off. I ended up awkwardly hand carrying that box around, including in my lap during the flight home. It was a perfect metal replica of the Renault-Elf-Gitane team car and had doors that opened. Team and sponsor logos were plastered on its body and hood. I had never seen a toy like it before and was ecstatic that it represented Bernard Hinault’s team, my cycling hero at the time. For the life of me I can’t remember what happened to it. I hope that eventually I’ll open a long forgotten box and find it again.  If I do, I’ll post a photo here!

board game

French board game celebrating Velodrome d’Hiver, the great indoor race track of Paris.


Toy Tour de France peloton riders


1950’s toy Jeep bicycle racing team service vehicle


Toy motorcycle


Tour de France pinball game


Vintage toy that operated on batteries to roll across the floor, alternating lead riders, and which featured cycling champions


Toy broom wagon


Photos: Cycling’s Golden Age

If you like this post, you may also like Man Tows Airstream Trailer on Bicycle.


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During a tour of a friend’s workshop yesterday I spotted this poster of French bike racer Alfred Letourneur towing a 22 foot long Airstream Liner at the Metropolitan Airport in Van Nuys, California in 1947. I was immediately enamored with the photo, went home and did a little homework and discovered that LeTourneur was a champion six-day racer in the 1930’s, garnering four U.S. National Championship victories.

LeTourneur broke the world bicycle speed record in 1938 at a velodrome in Motlhery, France. On May 17, 1941, riding behind a car on the freeway near Bakersfield, California he reached 108.92 mph on a Schwinn bicycle shattering his previous record.

Airstream 1947

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This beautiful wooden bicycle looks more like a sculpture than an extremely uncomfortable bone-shaking mode of transportation. Dating from the 1890’s, it is thought to be the first bicycle introduced in Reykjavik, Iceland. I love the curly-Q over the front fender!


To see more random 2-wheeled inspirations click here.

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Forget all those fancy state-of-the-art LED bicycle headlights – this 1950′s Delta Hawk Bicycle Headlite is the real deal, and the predecessor to what we’re using today. The Delta Electric Company was based in Marion, Indiana and claimed to be the “world’s largest producer of electric lanterns and electrical bicycle accessories”.

I came by this headlamp about 25 years ago when Mr. Walker, the ancient owner of the bicycle shop in my hometown, died. When his shop was cleaned out,  there were some amazing bicycle parts in his dark and dusty attic!


The packaging is classic and almost as good as the headlamp design!


I wasn’t riding a bike in the 50′s, but I’ve been saving this toy for when I find a vintage cruiser to attach it to…



I like they way the colors in these photos work together. Coincidentally they look a little 50′s-ish to me – sI couldn’t resist putting together a color palette.

To see more Delta Electric Co. bicycle accessories click here.

If you like this, you might also like the vintage bicycle trailer or Bicycle Songs of Safety.


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After partaking in a disastrous bicycle camping trip in my teens (malfunctioning panniers, wet gear, flat tires, poorly handling bike), I’ve avoided carrying heavy loads on my bike and have logged thousands of happily unencumbered miles since.

Some bikers seem to be a fascinated with the notion of dragging their homes behind them. A few weeks ago I posted some pictures of Camper Bike and recently I came across this bicycle trailer on swissmiss.

This approach to 2-wheeled adventure is romantic and novel, but I think I’ll stick to my titanium and carbon minimalist ethic and travel light with a credit card.



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Who can’t resist the silly songs and the cheerful and colorful illustrations in the 1964 children’s book “Bicycle Songs of Safety” written by Jill and Lawrence Grossman and illustrated by Herb McClure? (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) It takes you back to a time when kids actually rode bikes around town and there was respect for bicyclists. Below are some excerpts; good advice for any age.




“Keep to the Right!” I’m always amazed when I see kids AND adults pedaling against traffic! Besides being dangerous it must be pretty scary to have cars coming at you while riding.




“When You Ride at Night”

When you ride at night,

you will be alright,

with a rear danger signal and a front white light.

And to be extra safe,

be sure to wear clothes that are white,

at night!



“Never Carry Big Things”

Never carry great big things when you’re on your bike.

Great big things are hard to carry,

that means things like:

people, packages, penguins, polar bears, pumpkins, pandas and such!

You won’t be able to see a thing,

and they weigh too much!

I don’t think this song would be a top hit in Asia!




“Do Not Swerve or Weave in Traffic”

Do not swerve from side to side.

Do not weave in and out of traffic.

Let a straight line be your guide and you will be

terrific, terrific, terrific!

You will be terrific in traffic!


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