Leading bike brands Specialized and SRAM, renowned Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone and boutique cycling clothing designer Romance have come together to create a one-off custom-finished bike for cycling charity, World Bicycle Relief (WBR). The bike is on auction on eBay from November 17-26. Called ‘Pantone x Romance’, it was recently valued by Sotheby’s of London at £35,000.
The auction is part of the charity’s annual Year-End Appeal. The money raised will directly fund WBR’s projects in countries such as Malawi, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Funds will enable students, 70% of whom are girls, get to school more easily and safely, as well as health workers visit more patients and farmers get produce to their customers before it spoils.
Donations to WBR mean the charity can provide specially designed and developed, robust Buffalo Bikes which ‘empower families to keep their children in education, to build their businesses and, in turn, support their communities’. Each bike costs £95.
Artist Pantone is known for his private and public artworks, including collaborations such as the one for Sonos in Berlin in 2007; an outsized QR code on an industrial landscape in Belgium, and his recent work for a private collection in Miami, The Ultradynamic, a custom-finish on a 1994 Chevrolet Corvette.
His distinctive work, described as ‘style with psychedelic accents that evokes Italian Futurism’, is reflected in the ‘Pantone x Romance’ project. His work aims to produce the sensation of vibration as the viewer’s position changes in relation to the piece.
Pantone started doing graffiti at the age of 12 and graduated with a Fine Art degree in Valencia, where his studio is based. He describes his art as a meditation on the ways we consume visual information.
Pantone said “I’m all for people interacting with my artwork – when Romance brought the collab concept to me, to apply my work to their cycling kit and a bike, it seemed like a good fit. The results speak for themselves – dynamic, fluid and lively.”
Romance is a small, independent producer of cycling clothing, founded in London, which aims to inject art and design into cycling. Alongside its full collection, each season the company releases a limited edition artist collaboration called Romance X, with all profits donated to WBR.
Adam Parkes, co-founder of Romance with Nathan Dytor, said “It’s amazing seeing how much impact a bicycle can have through the work WBR does, such as being an enabler for a child in Africa to make the long journey to school, which in turn allows them to complete their education – it’s life-changing for them and their family.
“As cyclists ourselves and because of our own passion for cycling, we make it our mission through our brand Romance to create something unique and beautiful that we can sell to raise money for WBR, and make a difference. Our artist collaborators buy into that vision. We select artists whose work is visually interesting, striking and who are open to blurring the boundaries between art, design and cycling with us.
“This year’s collaboration was with the huge artist Felipe Pantone, we’ve been a fan of his for a long time, so it was great to see the cycling jerseys we made with him sell out in record time. This sparked the idea to go bigger – we had a chat with Specialized and Felipe, and decided if we could use a bike as a canvas to create a unique one-off piece of art, that could potentially be huge! If the auction goes well we will essentially be turning one spectacular custom bike into hundreds of Buffalo bikes that WBR can send to communities in Africa to change lives.”
The resulting bike, which is complete with a Specialized S-Works finishing kit, SRAM RED eTap groupset and carbon Roval deep-section wheels, is similar to those ridden by pro-racers from the Quick-Step Floors team in major races such as the Tour de France – but of course with a distinctive paint job.
WBR’s UK CEO Allison Dufosee said “We are so grateful to our supporters at Specialized, SRAM and Romance, and for the exciting collaboration with Felipe Pantone for this spectacular bike.
“The Pantone x Romance auction is already generating much excitement and interest on social media. We are looking forward to following its progress, knowing that we will be able to support more individuals, projects, and communities across the world through the power of bicycles.”
The WBR Year-End Appeal kicked off recently with the auction of another, unique artistic collaboration with sculptor Wilfrid Wood – a bust of three-time Road World Champion Peter Sagan – which raised over 50 bicycles for its projects. Through the UK gGovernment’s match funding scheme, the winning bid of £2,500 was effectively doubled enabling WBR to put twice as many of the £95 Buffalo Bikes in the field.
In total, the charity has supplied over 427,000 to projects around the world, empowering communities ‘so that distance is no longer a barrier to independence and livelihood’.
Hopes are high for a significant contribution from the ‘Pantone x Romance’ auction. The bike will be on display at London-based bike retailer and cafe Look Mum No Hands from 18-21 November.