In this Archive piece from Grafik 181, Max Leonard takes a tour through the surprisingly rich world of bicycle logo design, from marques invented by artisan frame-builders to branding and corporate race sponsorship. Illustrations by Andrew Edwards.
Design and cycling have a relationship characterised by extremes: the functional beauty of a classic steel road bicycle; the garish ugliness of 1980s professional Lycra kit.
In a sense, for all frame-builders, the frame is the distinguishing mark, a logo in itself. This was most true in the 1930s when British frame-builders were forbidden from placing their name on their racers’ bicycles, the rationale being that this ‘sponsorship’ would compromise the amateur sport. Some, therefore, deformed tubes in patented patterns so that the bike rushing onwards to glory would be instantly recognizable in the following week’s cycling press.