Top 3 Things I Learned from the Bike + Design Lecture

May 09, 2013 at 4pm


Calling all bike nerds – a new series of Bike + Design lectures hosted by the Industrial Designers Society of America and California College of the Arts just launched yesterday. If you’re into the history of bike culture, innovation of bike design, or bike brand building, you might want to check out these lectures by some of the biggest names in the Bay Area bike world. 

I got a chance to attend the first lecture in this three-part series, which was on the history and legacy of mountain biking. Now many of you may already know these things, but here are the three most interesting points I learned.

1. Mountain biking was invented in the Bay Area. 

I had no idea that mountain biking actually originated in Marin on Mount Tam. I didn’t realize that Northern California was responsible for so much of the transformation of mountain bike design all through the '70s and '80s. Even the lightweight Giro-style helmet was created in Santa Cruz.

2. The spirit of craftsmanship is alive and well. 

Now with all the mass-produced bike giants, it’s good to hear that the handbuilt frames from boutique shops are still going strong. The speakers from Rock Lobster, SyCip, and Retrotec bikes mentioned that a lot of people turn to custom bikes because they want a product created from someone they can meet. There has also been a boom with the tech crowd who are more willing to pay for specialized bikes for leisure or aesthetics. 

3. Many custom bike frame companies are still one-man shops.  

I was surprised to find out that several of these custom bike shops were still run by one person with just a few assistants. These builders truly care for their craft and try to cut out other middlemen in the production line. They are the ones running the process from measuring you for you bike to welding the frame together. 

It was inspiring to hear about to the trial and error process the speakers went through to perfect their designs and how they continue to live up to the ethic of always creating personal fit and performance on a bike. 

The next Bike + Design lecture is in June and you can check it out here

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