We met on a grey sunday afternoon along the edge of a no-longer-green Bavarian forest. The plan was to take some shots of Stijn’s custom Treshombres and go for a ride afterwards, ending the cycling hiatus we got stuck in since finishing the Rad Race Tour De Friends together this year. During the photoshoot we got to talking.
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO LATELY?
I’m keeping busy, that’s for sure. This year I released my second artist book, “Nothing Is Ever Finished”, and had my solo exhibition “Kosmos” at Galerie Karin Sachs, Munich. I’m also frequently travelling to Lausanne, as I’m teaching an architecture masterclass there, at EPFL. In the end I’ve still got my day job of being an art director as well.
I GUESS CYCLING MUST BE IMPORTANT TO YOU, IF YOU STILL FIND TIME TO RIDE IN BETWEEN ALL OF THAT. DOES IT HAVE ANY INFLUENCE ON YOUR CREATIVE OUTPUT?
It definitely has an effect on my work, yeah. I try to aim for roughly 6,000 a year, just to keep a bit of balance in my life. There are times during the day where I know I won’t be able to create, so that’s when I motivate myself to get on the bike. I mostly ride in the early mornings: I’ll get my kilometres before breakfast, design all morning, have a quiet moment right after lunch, and then usually work until shortly after midnight. If I don’t ride for a day or three, it starts showing in my work. I’ll get stuck overthinking things.
DON´T YOU FEEL THAT MORE AND MORE CREATIVES ARE REACHING OUT TO THE CYCLING WORLD? NOT JUST AS A LIBERATION BUT AS A TOOL TO EXPAND THEIR CREATIVITY?
It seems that the whole creative industry likes riding bikes. Maybe it’s because we’re all sitting behind a desk the whole time and cycling takes you places. I like to think it’s because cycling is such a highly personal thing; you can really fall in love with a bike, you can really make it yours. Plus, riding a bike just feels good, even if you’re just a casual rider. People will ride an old rustbucket to work, start adjusting things and suddenly they’re riding their rustbucket to work. Soon they’ll start thinking about what they would do differently if they had the chance to build a new bike. That’s how that passion starts. The cycling industry has caught on to this a while ago and it’s reflected in the products being put out. Things are getting much sleeker, with a lot of attention to detail. Customizing options are through the roof and plenty of independent builders are answering to niche markets. Cycling is becoming more diversified, more enriched.
...YOU THINK IT’S A GOOD THING, THIS EVOLUTION IN THE INDUSTRY?
I think so, although at first I didn’t. I felt that the market was getting flooded with flashy, poorly designed bicycles. I’m all for fixed gear bikes, but there was a time where everyone seemed to be riding bikes which looked like they came with a box of cereals. I came to realize that those bikes aren’t any different from the rustbuckets some people ride to work; people grow attached to them and develop their passion for cycling by riding them. These so-called hipsters are the ones who end up becoming the new cycling generation, graduating to riding gran fondos on full-blown race bikes or hitting the trails on mountain bikes. And the companies manufacturing those tacky bikes mostly get pushed out by rivaling brands, who evolve along with the market and produce bikes that are designed to work well.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE TRESHOMBRES FOR YOUR NEW BUILD?
I got to follow you guys closely from the very beginning, back when you were still deciding on which logos to go with. I saw how you were drawing out frame geometries, comparing manufacturer samples and monitoring the market for new standards and technologies. I saw Treshombres grow from good to great, and I love how the carbon road frames look. I felt like those years of hard work paid off and it deserved my support.
FROM THE BEGINNING YOU WERE A KEY PART IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PAINT SCHEME. HOW DOES IT FEEL RIDING A CUSTOM FRAME?
Designing the frame was great, riding it even better. I could basically do whatever I wanted, and you guys guided me in terms of possible finishings and those few limitations the paint team has. I drew a few wild designs, but I’m happy you convinced me to go for one of the calmer paint schemes. It was fantastic to see it all come together, but most importantly, that it rides like a rocket. It’s super stiff under acceleration yet light enough to throw around in the corners. Even with the 90mm wheels it comes in at just 7 kilograms. And it doesn’t hurt that it gets people looking each time I take it out, either.
ANY FUTURE PLANS FOR THE PIRATE?
I’m excited to grow together with the Treshombres. Since it’s now my only bike besides the commuter it’ll get my full attention. First ideas are to upgrade the drivetrain, and switch out the shift brake levers for something a bit more sophisticated. I’m looking forward to those Treshombres CX frames as well though.
Stijn would like to thank Carlos and Rafal over at Treshombres Bikes for making this build possible, as well as Davo and the team at Gutenbiken Munich for their friendship and constant technical support.