More Than Just a Map

When the bicycle was invented the roads were terrible, and so were the maps. But not for long.

13 Apr 2016  |  Posted by Jack Thurston  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Monthly highlights, Travel & Adventure Cycling

If it feels like we’re in the middle of a bike boom, it’s nothing compared to the 1890s. This was the decade when the world first went bicycle crazy. Bikes had evolved from a unwieldy and dangerous penny farthings with solid tyres to the now familiar bicycle with two equal sized wheels, diamond-shaped frame, chain drive and inflatable tyres: a bike that anyone could ride.

It meant people could travel further and faster than ever before. The only question was where to go, and this turned out to be quite a conundrum. For a start the roads were in a terrible state and road maps were years out of date and little more than sketches that failed to show if a road was bowling green smooth, boneshakingly rocky or an impassable quagmire. It was therefore fortunate that the same advances in engineering that gave birth to the bicycle were also revolutionising map-making. What’s more, many of the new maps hitting the market were designed specifically to help cyclists explore the countryside.

As well as showing the quality of the roads, a good cycling map must show where the hills are. Most road maps of the time ignored hills altogether or else depicted them as cartoon-like hillocks reminiscent of the days when medieval map-makers would liven up a large expanse of water by drawing in a few sea monsters. One popular map style of the time was the strip map. These showed a single route in considerable detail but failed to give a sense of the road network as a whole.

A nineteenth century strip map. Beautifully drawn but designed for the wealthy gentleman riding in in a stagecoach than for the independent bicycle traveller

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Poetry in Partnership

Brooks enlists some of the world’s best bike makers for new 150th Anniversary “Dashing Bikes”

17 Mar 2016  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Monthly highlights

In 2016, Brooks England celebrates its 150th anniversary by enlisting the cooperation of some of the best bike builders in cycling to work on an unprecedented project creating interpretations of a Brooks bicycle to be produced in limited numbers and sold worldwide.

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Mind is the Ride

Boneshaker's Jet McDonald drops by to tell us about his latest project

7 Mar 2016  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Art & Design, Correspondence, Curiosities, Friends, Stories, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Cycling and philosophy do not seem like obvious companions. Some would say the only thing that links the two is a preponderance of beards. However, philosophers have always wanted to take things apart to see how they work, much like the budding bike mechanic, and then put them back together again and see how they roll, much like a kid with a new bike. There is something so exhilarating about cycling, sweating up a hill and then racing down again, that it offers an unparalleled insight into the boundaries of human experience. What does it mean to feel pain and pleasure closely aligned? What does it mean to sense the whole extent of your body stretching and easing into the rough tread of a good ride? Can we measure these experiences objectively or are they only in the mind of the rider? What, after all, is the mind?

Philosophers love this stuff. It’s like chocolate cake to them. Or croissant if you’re a continental existentialist.

There’s a great story about the young Bertrand Russell (some would say the foremost British philosopher of the last hundred years) and the young George Bernard Shaw (big time orator and playwright, massive beard) detailed by Craig Brown in “Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings.”

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Yehuda Moon x Brooks England

The famous comic strip revisits some adventures featuring some classic leather

4 Dec 2015  |  Posted by Oliver  |  Categories: Art & Design, Curiosities, Friends, Monthly highlights, Saddles, Bags, Etc.

We are very pleased to introduce a series of cartoons from the chaps over at Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery to present a series of comic strips featuring some saddles that are very close to our hearts.

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Cycle Revolution at the Design Museum in London

We find out more about a special cycling exhibition

17 Nov 2015  |  Posted by Oliver  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Events, Monthly highlights, Sports Cycling, Travel & Adventure Cycling, Urban Cycling

We here at Brooks England are proud to be taking part in a new exhibition that is taking part at the Design Museum in London. Cycle Revolution celebrates the diversity of contemporary cycling in Britain from every day commuting to Olympic level competition and looks at where design and innovation may take the riders of the future.

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Back to the Future

Camille McMillan reveals the inspiration for the Demi-Porkeur

1 Jul 2015  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Correspondence, Curiosities, Friends, Monthly highlights

In 1957 Roland Barthes published  ’Mythologies’ , a collection of essays .. the best known is “The New Citroën” the ”Goddess”.

The Citroën DS 19 replaced the Citroën Traction Avant, the Citroën Traction Avant was old fashioned… pre World War 2 tech and styling.  The DS according to Barthes was perfection.

The DS was perfection of Modernism, the high watermark of French design and ethos. World War 2 was in the history books along with the old aesthetics of the La Belle Époque ”Beautiful Era” and Art Nouvos.  The Citroën DS was the future manifest in an object.

French style, aesthetics engineering was at its height… for me it was a high point for French’e'ness, French bicycles and bicycles in general.

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Rowan Frameworks Interview

The Bespoked Best Newcomer tell us how he learnt his trade

15 May 2015  |  Posted by jim holland  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Correspondence, Events, Friends, Monthly highlights

Another newcomer that caught our eye (and many others!) at this years Bespoked was Timmy Rowan of Rowan Frameworks. Astonishingly he picked up both best Best Newcomer & Best in Show, which was fairly unprecedented! A staunch Brooks supporter…His bikes are a stark contrast from the recent trend of monster tubed speed machines and have a wealth of small touches and unusual uses of mixed materials. Who knows what’s in store for Rowan Frameworks…but they are certainly off to a good start! We swapped a few questions and answers to learn a bit more about the finer points…

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Hartley Cycles in Her Own Words

Juliet Chats To Award Winning Female Frame Builder Caren Hartley

30 Apr 2015  |  Posted by Juliet Elliott  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Stories

In my previous post for the Brooks blog, I chatted to photographer Camille Macmillan and new frame builder Caren Hartley about the intriguing sounding steel machine the latter was hand-crafting for the former, something the pair had nicknamed the ‘Demi-Porkeur.’

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Big Guv’nor, Little Guv’nor?

Testing the Pashley Guv'nor Twenty-Six on the Tweed run.

24 Apr 2015  |  Posted by Tim Gunn  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Events, Friends, Heritage, Style & Fashion, Urban Cycling

Little Guv’nor – Big Guv’nor

While I ride along the serpentine in Hyde Park, the mood is mellowed to the sound of 70’s disco. ‘Ring my bell’ by Anita Ward, plays from a makeshift stereo; crudely strapped to the back of a bicycle in front of me. I glance back, and I’m confronted by a sea of tweed; with faces beaming in the glorious spring sunshine. My stead for the tweed run this year was equally mellow; it was the latest offering from Pashley Cycles in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Bespoked 2015 Gallery

A small selection of what we enjoyed at the show

23 Apr 2015  |  Posted by jim holland  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Events, Monthly highlights

The dust is now slowly starting to settle on Bespoked 2015 and it was great to see the event return to it’s spiritual home of Bristol and the show spread out into two venues, Brunel’s Old Station and Contemporary Art centre Arnolfini. Brunel’s was devoted to bikes and Arnolfini to extra-curricular items like Clothing, Bike Luggage, Art Prints and Publications.

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