says it's all about artful engineering...
My fascination with the bicycle is with the simplicity of the idea - efficiently transforming human energy into maximum mobility - and how this translates into design. Although the concept of the two-wheeled, human-powered vehicle has existed for more than a century, the bicycle continues to be an incredibly relevant product, constantly being redesigned, whose basic principles have withstood the test of time.
The bicycle is one of the most uncompromising constructions I know - artistically and structurally. It requires a lightweight structure (as the rider must drive forward the weight of the structure plus himself), a stable frame (to make it efficient) and extreme engineering precision (to minimise any loss of friction), in addition to aspiring to graceful and elegant aesthetics. Bicycle designers around the world are passionate about their art and craft, expending exhaustive hours in their quest for perfection.
It was at the age of 11 that my world changed from being just a schoolboy living at home to someone who started an adventure with the world of cycling. My parents bought me a pale blue Paramount racing bicycle for my birthday. It was second-hand, but in perfect condition.
I used to keep my bicycle in my bedroom (much to the horror of my mum), but it was always completely immaculate: even after a rainy day I would clean and dry it immediately on returning home. I would sit in bed admiring the colour, the shape, the engineering.
At the age of 12 I started to race. I never won anything and my cycling finished with a bad accident aged 17 which resulted in several months in hospital. After recovering I met up with some new friends from the hospital at the local pub, which by chance was where many creative students from the local art college went. Meeting these students changed my life, as that is when I turned my attention to design. The rest, as they say, is history, although cycling has continued to be a hobby and a passion.
An extract of Cyclepedia: A Tour of Iconic Bicycle Designs by Michael Embacher, foreword by Paul Smith (Thames & Hudson) £19.95