The past few years have seen British athletes triumph in international cycling tournaments, from the Olympics and Tour de France to BMX World Championships. More of us than ever are getting on two wheels and as one of the UK’s fastest growing sports, cycling now contributes an estimated £3bn to the country’s economy.
Opening at the Design Museum this month is a new exhibition which looks at how designers are responding to our growing interest in bikes for sport, leisure and as a means of transport. Cycling Revolution opens on November 18 until June 2016, and will showcase dozens of bikes alongside clothing, kits, safety technology and cycling related films and photography.
“The initial idea was for an exhibition on the history of bike design, but I felt this had already been done very well by other museums,” says Donna Loveday, head of curatorial design at the Design Museum. “Cycling has become so popular now, so we thought, ‘wouldn’t it be interesting to look at where it is now and where that could take us in future?’”
The exhibition is grouped into four sections: High Performers looks at the world of competitive cycling and athletes from Chris Froome to Chris Hoy and Olympic track cyclist Joanna Rowsell, with bikes and kits on show; Thrill Seekers looks at BMX bikes and mountain cycling, while Cargo Bikers presents a history of bikes used to transport freight. Urban Riders, as the name suggests, looks at city cyclists and bikes designed for urban environments.
Films on show will include interviews with famous cyclists from Norman Foster to Paul Smith, while a large-scale recreation of a bike-making workshop promises a look at six British companies making custom frames.
The final section of the exhibition will examine the future of cycling – in particular, how the sport is changing the infrastructure of cities, safety concerns that have emerged as the number of cyclists continues to grow, and how designers are working to make cycling safer and easier with wearable cameras, locks, lights and clothing. “It isn’t just about bikes,” adds Loveday. “Cycle clothing has grown enormously, so we’re looking at a number of key innovations in that area, from clothes incorporating LED lights to garments made with reflective yarn,” she says.