London’s cycling scene is booming. Since their launch last year, Barclays’, aka Boris’s, bikes have been ridden the equivalent distance of to the moon and back – 13 times. But for city velophiles who don’t want to be saddled with one of Boris’s chunky Canadian-made models, Lunar-Cycles is the go-to for pared-down, beautifully crafted bespoke bicycles.
Founded by Sam Parkes (who formerly worked at the BBC World Service on a digital archiving project, and who has cycled every day for the past 20 years) and business partner Adam Smith, Lunar-Cycles was born from the pair’s enthusiasm for 20th-century design, which, says Parkes, was “driven more by the aesthetic and longevity of the product and less with bringing things in on budget”.
Working with local authorities and the Highways Agency, Lunar-Cycles salvages period frames from heritage brands such as Claude Butler and meticulously repairs, shot blasts, powder coats and repaints the frames (even going as far as replacing original decals) until they are “as good as the day they were brazed together”. Using the reconditioned vintage steel tubing (lighter, stronger and more comfortable than its modern aluminium-alloy cousins), each frame is then fitted with the client’s choice of state-of-the-art components: think Brooks leather saddles, Sturmey-Archer hub gears and Mavic rims, as well as practical touches such as chainguards and mudguards. Wheels are either Japanese-built Shimano or Rohloff, and Lunar-Cycles makes both single-speed and geared hub wheels.
Customers can choose from a vast number of colour combinations – from muted retro tones such as baby blue and champagne gold to more striking shades such as cherry red, or the glossy “London taxi black”. And although Smith and Parkes’ clientele are mostly made up of style-savvy architects and designers who hanker after their classic understated bikes, they duo are not fazed by the odd leftfield request – recent bespoke builds include an adult tricycle, a recumbent bicycle and, rather charmingly, a “three-seater tandem”.