Denmark-based designer Kaspar Peek has been a bike fanatic since childhood. He has worked as a bike mechanic, participated in BMX competitions, and commuted around London, where he used to work at a creative agency, on his bike. But when he tried to customize his own bike, combining a vintage Italian frame with sleek modern fixtures, he found the process complicated and very expensive.
So Peek founded KP Cykler, a custom bike design company that combines classic, vintage bike aesthetics with modern innovations and technology–including a smartphone-based theft deterrent–at a much lower price point than similar services. After a year of designing, testing, and manufacturing, the bikes are now for sale on Kickstarter.
Most custom vintage bicycles cost thousands. But with in-house engineering and assembly, and by selling direct to consumer instead of through bike shops (which usually take about 40% of the retail price), KP Cykler keeps its prices down to $900. Custom bike design also usually requires working with an expert builder or building one yourself, but KP Cykler moves this process into an easy digital format. You can design your own custom bike online, in a smooth, simple interface, choosing between single speed and fixed gear, from two styles of frames, four seats, and three handlebars. Photographs of the built bicycles show you what all the permutations actually look like.
The components are all designed with sleek materials: frames of rugged chromoly (a light but strong, steel) instead of bulky aluminum or carbon fiber; leather saddles and handlebar tape. “When I first had the idea of building bikes, I didn’t think of designing my own components, but I just couldn’t find components I liked, so I had to,” Peek writes in an email. “Inspiration came from looking at old classic bicycles and cherry-picking personal favorites and features that make them look good.” In some cases, he improved on these classic designs. For example, the drop handlebars they designed curve forward near the stem, but unlike the handlebars they’d found on the market, they are wide enough on the top to make it comfortable to ride in a fairly upright position while “looking quite aggressive,” as Peek puts it.
Each bike’s handlebars also have a built-in chip that can be scanned by any smartphone equipped with NFC (near-field communication) technology, which includes all new iPhones and Androids. The bike’s serial number, build date, owner’s initial and last name are stored on your phone and in KP Cykler’s databases, so this information can’t be modified by a thief. If someone–a cop, say–suspects the bike might be stolen, he can scan either end of the handlebars to confirm who the real owner is. And if you want people to contact you directly once they have identified you as the owner of the missing bike–you can choose to add your contact and a “missing” notice to the information that’s displayed after scanning.
KP Cykler bicycles are currently funding on Kickstarter. If the project is fully funded, they’ll be delivered in July 2015.