Two wheels good. More stuff to do out in the sun with a spin on these technicolor builds from new Shanghai-based company, wtf.
"Covet" is a celebration of the mass accumulation of commodities. Basically, it's just seeing purchase-worthy stuff around Shanghai and sometimes purchasing it.
There’s a new company making bikes in Shanghai called wtf
. That stands for “World Towards Fixies”. It’s been set up by three Malaysian guys who are here working in advertising
, the lucrative things that creative people do who’ve had the sense not to board the good ship journalism.
While some bike companies are taking things back to basics, releasing plainer bikes with less frills and colors, less hipster punchability, shall we say, wtf has gone the other way. They completely embrace the bike-as-fashion-statement aesthetic, producing fixed-gear bicycles that are made for showing off as much as for riding.
All their creations are custom made. Bring them in a picture of your favorite car or even your favorite clothes designer (mine’s actor John Malkovich) and they’ll use that as inspiration to create a bike. They hope you’ll go back every few months and switch out parts for different colors to match the season, or to match your new shoes or your new moustache.
This is what the workshop looks like. It’s only open by appointment, and you can only get an appointment during weekends. Interested parties should email them here
to book a consultation. This is what the shop looks like:
All the parts are produced in Pantone and Dulux colors, so in theory, you can match your bike’s colors exactly to Pantone’s proprietary color system.
Did I mention my favorite clothes designer is actor John Malkovich? If you didn’t know, he has a clothing line called Technobohemian
. Nice one, Malkovich. Technobohemian, I think we all know where you're coming from. Here’s a picture of him wearing some lovely rings in his studio.
wtf’s basic set-ups cost around 3,000rmb, though they do have an entry-level bike for less than 2,000rmb. The guys who run the business are really nice. They're clearly too busy to be doing this, but they love bikes and so they put the time in. Their store is just rammed with pretty two-wheelers. Nose around the store and you’ll also see this sort of thing.
Tasty? That one's the top of the line and it will put you back 10k. There are also these carbon fiber jobs with aerodynamic wheels. They’re around 8,000rmb.
This is the bike they put together for us to test ride. Zowie! I know, looks like something Captain America would ride on his day off. Buzz Lightyear goes to Brooklyn. I rode around on that feeling like a fucking crime fighter. All I lacked was a cape. The frame was chromoly steel though they also do aluminum alloy for a little bit more. Build quality for this one was similar to the likes of Airwalk
, though a little lighter than their steel bikes and geared up a little faster. The detailing and parts were also a bit slicker. Look at this stuff. Better brakes and pedals. Nicer handlebars.
Most of the parts are made in China except a few things imported from the UK and Taiwan, such as these Propalm studs on the ends of the handlebars. Just a detail, a nice little touch to make things more trim. They put together the bikes in the shop. Order one and they’ll put it together for you in about two weeks. If you want a custom color, something that they've not made in the past, it will take a while longer.
They use this wall (below) to comp-together bikes, so you can get an idea of colors and choose the bits you like. wtf also releases its own combinations of colors for each season. The spring / summer 2013 collection is launching in a couple of weeks. Maybe get on to their website
for details of that, or call them up and go down to the store on the weekend.
In the near future, they will be bringing some other foreign-brand accessories in and will also be launching a set of their own frames — designed by wtf, manufactured in China.
They also have products from Brooks, the British saddle manufacturer that’s oh-so-hip right now. They carry Brooks messenger bags, which are really tasty, though rather pricey.
So, that’s it. wtf bikes. Good rides in every color under the sun. To find and contact wtf, go here
. What’s that? You’d like to see another picture of actor slash fashion designer John Malkovich? OK, one more Malkovich. Here's him trying to melt your brain through the computer screen.