A bicycle is a work of art. From its flowing lines to its tapered tubes and lustrous finishes; Every cyclist knows that a nice ride is more than just a machine. For artist Bradley Harms, incorporating a bicycle into his art practice was a simple yet elegant extension. Harms recently worked with Chapter2 bikes and created a special version of their KOKO Aero road bike.
Bradley Harms’ artwork is a perfect match for Chapter2, blending artistry with technical performance. Each of the lines used in the artwork that inspired this creation is hand drawn and layered to create a beautiful and dynamic piece of contemporary art.
Harms is an artist from Calgary, Alberta. He studied at the University of Calgary and at the renowned School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As a painter, his work aims to change our notions of form and surface. As a cyclist, he has learned to love the completeness of cycling. Combining a bike, a beautiful, functional and aesthetically pleasing machine with his own art, was a perfect fit.
Both he and his colleague Todd McCallum of Calgar’s Chapter2 Bikes knew that Harms could take a bike and turn it into a rolling canvas. The idea was simple: create work that the cyclist can appreciate while doing what they love: riding. It’s about creating a personal experience aboard a Chapter2 bike.
The collaboration began when Harms and McCallum met on the Calgary cycling scene.
“We both have a great passion for cycling and the beauty of the bike,” explains Harms. “We met through mutual friends, and when Todd found out I was an artist, we set up a studio visit.”
The collaboration started over coffee and the idea of creating something different. When McCallum walked into Harms’ studio, something magical happened.
“When Todd came to my studio, we just clicked and he was blown away by the artwork. We had great conversations about how cycling is a highly aesthetic experience when you’re on a bike. I just saw all the parallels this happened to when you look at artworks. too, and we just kept tinkering with it,” says Harms. “We’ve been trying to figure out how to bring more art into cycling and more cyclists into art.”
Harms says the bridge from cycling to design is not a long one. It’s an integral part of cycling; Every frame, jersey, helmet, shoe or sock is part of a carefully considered design. A bike like the Chapter2 is carefully designed for optimal performance but with an elegant flair.
An artist painting a bike is not a new concept, just as artists have painted custom cars in the past. It takes an already visually stunning machine and adds another layer to it. Artists like Damian Hirst or Futura 2000 have painted frames, but what Harms has done with Chapter2 is not just applying paint to a frame, but creating an experience that connects to the joy of cycling.
“When it comes to aesthetics in cycling, it should contribute to that contemplative state that a rider often achieves. It’s not just about looking good on the bike, it’s more that I’m trying to have a soulful experience while on the bike. Like sitting in front of a painting,” says Harms. “Those things bonded really well for us and I think that was the starting point for our relationship with Chapter2. Mike Pryde, one of the founders of Chapter2, studied art and studied architecture, which included a stint with renowned British architect Norman Foster, and Mike immediately saw the potential of combining structure and performance with art.”
A bike has many nooks and crannies, unlike a flat canvas. One might think it would be a challenge to incorporate his art into a three-dimensional object, and yet Harms says it’s no different. In fact, the process is very similar.
“One of my undergraduate degrees was printmaking. So I work essentially as flat as bike manufacturers or bike painters in terms of surface appearance,” says Harms. “So it’s a natural progression to move on to anything else that’s flat. Only the curved parts become a bit more problematic. But that is also part of the challenge and the joy of working with a new medium.”
These curvy parts make the Chapter2 KOKO so special. Harms has managed to utilize every nook and cranny of a bike to turn that meditative experience of riding into an art viewing experience. Its lines and flourishes reveal themselves to the rider’s point of view as they ride. Imagine if you’re in that incredible zone of cycling and the endorphins are coursing through your veins, you can absorb Harm’s creation. It’s like staring at a wall in a gallery – only out on the bike you’re doing what you love.
“I mean, the Chapter2 bike itself is beautiful, isn’t it? It’s seductive and drool-worthy, and it’s something you desire, just like a great work of art. Sure, we want sexy bikes. Bikes that are something special. And we want bikes that are pretty exclusive to us. I don’t want to ride someone else’s bike, and I don’t want to be in a peloton or a group ride and be on one of three of the same bikes,” says Harms.
The longer you look at the bike, the more artistic attributes you will notice. The subtly painted rings on the seat stays or seat post and the tinted clear coat of paint on the frame allow the rich carbon to shine through when exposed to sunlight. They are designed for you, the viewer – the driver – to pick them up and take them in.
As Harms is a cyclist, it has helped him to understand how he uses the frame itself to showcase his art and vice versa, how he uses his art to showcase the bike. Like every cyclist, he knows the many places on the bike that can be hidden or only exposed while riding. Every artist needs to sign their work, so they’ve found a perfect place to do it: on the back of the fork.
As a nod to its fine art roots, the frame also includes an original artwork based on the painting it was created from, as well as an NFT offering (a VR version of the frameset) for those owners who will experience/prove it want ownership of the blockchain. “This NFT is offered in partnership with Chapter2 Bikes and through Ethos, a leading NFT company based in Vancouver, BC. They will also be launching a limited edition Fine Art NFT, giving buyers the chance to win an original painting by Bradley Harms himself.
Only 60 framesets will be made available worldwide, with each frameset coming with signed artwork as used on the frame, along with blue detailed matching thru-axles, a top cap and maroon carbon bottle cages. Available from authorized retailers and through the Chapter2 website. Pre-orders for this exclusive creation will end when all 60 units have sold out and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.
To learn more about The KOKO BHarms + Special Projects Artist Edition, visit BharmsChapter2.com
You can also contact Todd McCallum, Country Manager Canada for Chapter2 at firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is presented in chapter 2.