Trek’s District gets a new look inspired by bike posters.
(Waterloo, WI) – Trek Bicycle and international poster phenomenon ARTCRANK have unveiled a new aesthetic for Trek’s popular District line. The Trek District ARTCRANK Edition combines Trek’s top commuter bike with graphics created by ARTCRANK Lead Designer Rob Angermuller (Lifter Baron). Hand painted and assembled by hand at Trek’s Waterloo, WI manufacturing facility, the custom project — only a handful of bikes will be made — was an opportunity for both Trek and ARTCRANK to take their love for bikes and art in a new direction.
“Trek is a family full of people that love and appreciate art and how that affects our bikes and design and we’ve done these sorts of collaborations with everybody from Shepard Fairey to Damien Hirst for our riders who compete in events like the Tour de France or Crankworx,” says Travis Ott, Brand Manager for Trek. “Our project with ARTCRANK is all about elevating the design appeal of an everyday bike that will appeal to a fresh audience.”
ARTCRANK founder and director Charles Youel adds, “The artists in our shows are people who are inspired by riding bicycles, and they tap into that energy and excitement to create amazing posters. This was an opportunity to take that idea back to the source.”
As it turns out, making a bike about art is a lot different than making art about bikes. “Designing this bike was one of the toughest creative challenges I’ve ever had,” says Angermuller, who goes by the handle Lifter Baron. “I didn’t want to create just a nice-looking traditional bike. I was after something that showed how riding a bike feels: energy, motion, excitement.”
Coming up with the look was just the beginning, according to Ott. “The bicycle is a challenging canvas. It’s all skinny round tubes, curves and angles. And when we apply custom graphics to a bike, the process isn’t automated. From painting the frame to fitting the design to the form of the tubes to applying the finished decals, the work’s all done by hand. With complex graphics like these, it’s the dictionary definition of ‘painstaking.’”
The end result is a sleek, stripped-down single-speed bike, with graphics dominated by bold colors and shapes that echo traditional screen-printing techniques and textures as well as pop art and Japanese animé. The District ARTCRANK Edition also features the Gates Carbon Drive — a maintenance-free belt drive system similar to those used on motorcycles — instead of a traditional chain and sprocket, which accentuates the bike’s singular appearance. And it does more than just look good. “As soon as I got it put together, I took it out for a spin in the middle of the night,” says Youel. “It’s super-fast and almost eerily quiet. I felt like a Stealth Bomber.”
Both Trek and ARTCRANK are thrilled with the results. Youel says, “We know that we do our best work when we push out beyond our comfort zones, and I think the same thing was true with the team at Trek. I had a conversation with Travis during the design process where he told me, ‘If you guys make it easy on us, we’re going to be disappointed.’ So we took that and ran with it.”
Eric Lynn, Global Creative Director for Trek, sees the collaboration as the first step in an ongoing process for the world’s largest bicycle brand. “ARTCRANK in particular and graphic design in general are facets of cycling culture that we fully support. Projects like this are an opportunity to reach out to people in the creative community and give them a new way to look at bicycles. And I’d say that working with ARTCRANK has done the same for the people on our team.”
The Trek District ARTCRANK Edition will be on display at upcoming ARTCRANK events in Denver, CO, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA and Bend, OR. The bike will also be at Trek dealerships in those cities before and after each ARTCRANK event. Cyclists who are ready to design their own Trek bikes can get started at trekbikes.com/projectone.
Note: We’d like to thank everyone who teamed up to make this project possible. This never would have happened without the efforts of:
Design: Rob Angermuller | Lifter Baron
Promotion: Kate O’Reilly | CleverKate