There’s no doubt about it – bicycles are special. Whether you’re chasing the traffic on your daily commute, racing across the hills in a flash of lycra or trundling through the lanes on a sunny afternoon for a riverside picnic, there’s something essential about life on two wheels.
In a bike, function meets form in stylish sustainability. They’re all about energy, freedom, innocence and escape. They’re symbols of self-sufficiency – just like upcycling!
The Tour de Yorkshire
Upcycled bikes have been a familiar sight in Yorkshire ever since Gary Verity and Visit Yorkshire brought the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014. Le Grand Depart 2014 brought a storm of painted bicycles to watch over the country roads and towns of ‘God’s County’. These cheery sentinels are easy to spot: adorning the fences, buildings, roundabouts and signposts which flanked the route of the tour. It’s hard to drive through Yorkshire without seeing one, and with the Tour de Yorkshire scheduled for 1st – 3rd May 2015, the reign of the upcycled bicycle is only just beginning!
With memories of the Tour de France running high and excitement for the Tour de Yorkshire rising, we were inspired to delve into cycling history to find upcycled cycles in sport and seek out exciting new design ideas for your own upcycling projects.
Upcycling bikes isn’t a new thing. Graeme Obree, one of the great icons of British cycling history, brought upcycling to the public imagination in 1993 when he broke the world hour velodrome record on a homemade bike which used the bearings from a reclaimed washing machine. The bike, named ‘Old Faithful’, used an innovative design which optimised Obree’s energy efficiency and saw him ride to victory twice at the world pursuit championship, break the British 10-mile individual time trial record and retake the world hour velodrome record from his rival Chris Boardman in 1994.
Obree admits that he sometimes regrets confessing to his experiment with the washing machine bearings because he has become better known for that than for his other achievements and innovations! But that didn’t stop him incorporating a saucepan into his design for a bike that he used in an to attempt to break the bike speed record.
So if you think upcycling is purely aesthetic, or an arty-farty passing trend, think again! The human race has upcycled throughout history and found truly innovative practical solutions by reusing discarded materials.
Upcycled Bikes at Remade in Britain
With the upcycling movement growing day by day, upcycling bikes is becoming an ever more popular repurposing project which has inspired many of our Remade Retailers.
Channel 4 superstar Max McMurdo is famous for upcycling weird and wonderful designer furniture from a range of unexpected items – with bathtub armchairs, car engine coffee tables and aeroplane wing desks numbering among his most popular creations. Now he’s added an upcycled cycle to his eccentric collection in the shape of Victoria: a vintage leather bike saddle lovingly repurposed into a stunning industrial style stool! Take a look at Reestore, Max’s Remade store, to check out more of his inspired designs.
Another Remade Retailer embracing the possibilities of upcycling bikes is the wonderful Alybond. Alybond creates beautiful bags and awesome accessories from all kinds of scrap leather and rubber – so it’s only natural to find her foraying into the world of upcycled tyres! Alybond has used upcycled inner tubes from bikes, lorries and assorted vehicles to create super-cool iPad cases, handy headphone holders and trendy pouches perfect for loose change and accessories.
Alybond: upcycling pouches, ipad cases and earphone holders from punctured inner tubes
You could also check out our fabulous retailer Velo-Culture, who has found inventive uses for bicycle parts that would otherwise end up in landfill. In our Velo-Culture range you’ll find stylish and sturdy wallets, purses, makeup bags, washbags and pencil cases repurposed from old inner tubes and cufflinks recycled from bike chain links.
Velo-Culture: recycling inner tubes and bike chains into handy bags and stylish accessories
And that’s just the start! With hundreds of upcycled bike ideas out there it’s only too easy to turn a vintage bicycle into a work of art, an eye-catching accessory or a practical garden feature.
5 of Our Favourite Upcycled Bicycle Ideas
You could immortalise a beloved broken bike forever as a garden planter, create a be-spoke garden fence out of frames and wheels, or make your front gate a pedalling portal which professes your love of cycling to the outside world!
You could turn the grimy into the grandiose by re-purposing old bike chains and wheel rims into an ornate chandelier! Multi-disciplinary artist Carolina Fontoura Alzaga transforms trash into stunning light installations that combine the extravagance of Victorian design with the practicality and sustainability of bike culture and upcycling.
Or why not bring a modern twist to a rustic design classic with an imitation stag’s head thrifted from a bike saddle and handlebars? Austria’s Andreas Scheiger was inspired by Picasso’s ‘Cabeza de Toro’ to create his collection of wood mounted antler trophies upcycled from retired bicycles. They serve equally well as practical hangers for coats and umbrellas or as stunning statement pieces for the living room that make lasting tribute to celebrated cycles!
If upcycled jewellery is more your thing, the possibilities for creating beautiful accessories from bike parts are endless – think bike chain necklaces, bracelets made from used tyres and earrings upcycled from inner tubes!
Chain and inner tube cuff (Photo Source: Etsy) – Cute Owl Necklaces (Photo Source: lollyjane.com) – Inner tube earrings (Photo Source: revolta.deviantart.com)
Or why not think totally outside the box and reimagine those iconic festive classics with some upcycled bike inspiration? The possibilities are endless!
This really is just the very tip of the iceberg. There’s so many more inspired upcycled cycle ideas out there – just take a look at our Pinterest board! With everything from tables to chairs, clocks to mirrors, lights, baskets, coat racks, belts and accessories, you’ll find inspiration for countless projects for any spare bike parts you care to repurpose.
Or tune in to our weekly #RemadeHour, where you’ll find the very best designers, artists and crafters sharing photos of their latest creations – a deluge of design inspiration!
Last week’s RemadeHour featured beautiful upcycled bike sculptures from Remade’s artist friend K L Metal Art. Talented upcycler Keith Lynn left his day job in 2014 and now works full time crafting fabulous metal sculptures from scrap metal. From small animals to motorbikes to full size guitars all assembled from bike chains, spokes, car nuts, bolts and springs, Lynn’s collection comprises a mechanized universe in which every creature and creation is made from retired vehicle parts saved from landfill and given new and vibrant life. Eco-friendly, thrifty, beautiful and utterly unique, K L Metal Art creations are everything we love at Remade! So why not have a go yourself and make those battered bike parts into cherished children’s toys or one-of-a-kind ornaments?
So what are you waiting for? Gear up for the ultimate upcycling revolution and transform that broken bicycle into a shabby-chic accessory, a practical home furnishing or a beautiful steam punk sculpture. Awake your inner cyclopath – cycle up and get cycling upcyling today!