Learning how to ride a bike is a universal human experience, and is often one of the first challenging physical activities we ever learn to master. As children, bikes gave us feelings of freedom and adventure. As adults, they become significantly more impactful, whether that is a form of sustainable transport, a representation of craftsmanship, a method of exercise, a thrilling sport, or a simple childhood memento.
In 1926, Sigurdh Gunnar Klas Erlandsson founded Skiens Cykkelfabrik. Located in the capital of Telemark at Kverndalsgata 8, the classic bicycle brand started its journey in a factory building that would come to stand the test of time.
In the early years, the factory produced handmade bikes under the names Speed and Camping. But it was the Speed bikes that rose in popularity, known for their timeless design, high quality, and easy ride-ability. Erlandsson employed 30 people to meet demand and produced up to 2,500 bikes a year until he closed down operations at 71 in 1960. In his wake, he left behind a legacy of a bike manufacturer devoted to producing high quality, easy-to-ride, and great-looking bikes.
Fast forward to 2017, and the company is re-launched by entrepreneurial brothers Aleksander & Bård Farstad. Retaining its name, brand, and location, the revitalized company wanted to continue the mission Erlandsson spent 45 years perfecting: the art of bicycle making.
Throughout the years, attention to detail has remained an essential part of the Speed brand. Just take a look at the Speed badge, whose design dates back to the company's origins in 1926.
The artwork on the badge is based on the original design of leaves and nuts with traced text. Group company Snowball Digital was brought onto the project for its industrial design skills. With CAD (computer-aided design), the modern mold was constructed using CNC (computer numerical control) with specialized machinery before finally being hand-finished. Each badge continues to be made using traditional methods that include bent, drilled, and hand-painted cast aluminum.
This has given the new Speed badge a clear lineage connection to the old Speed badge. While somewhat modernized with new manufacturing methods, it still features an art deco style representing a beautiful and timeless piece of bicycle jewelry.
Snowball Digital used the same CAD design methods that were used on the Speed badges to reimagine the classic Speed road bike. These updated bikes found inspiration in their history by connecting the past with the future. However, they were reimagined with today's materials and production methods.
The initial classic bicycle lines were kept intact, including the horizontal top tube and the vintage-style frame angles. The leather seat and handbag grips were also kept in classic leather. Renamed to "Speed TEN," it reflects a classic racing bike with gears. Design and styling always come first in the Speed design process, as long as it never compromises on quality.
Today, Skiens Cykkelfabrik products are hand-built by people who care about bikes and are obsessed with details. They have pride in the craft and view the finished product not just as a piece of transport but as a piece of art.
On this World Bicycle Day, we celebrate the history and joy of cycling and the legacy it has left behind for people across the globe. We salute those pushing the boundaries of their crafts, challenging the status quo, and injecting new life into old ideas.