A mixte-style bike that can take on gravel roads, and an urban bike with full Di2. These aren't your average commuter bikes, and they've both been hand built and carefully designed to embody the approach and aesthetic of British clothing brand Vulpine in a limited edition run in collaboration with August Bicycles.
The bikes were created by frame builder Gavin Buxton of August Cycles to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Vulpine, started by Nick and Emmalou Hussey in 2012. Vulpine creates what it calls 'cycling-friendly city clothing'; products that you could as easily appear in the office or cafe in as on a bike, with lines including merino-lined blazers and seamless leggings.
Norfolk-based Buxton has collaborated with Nick Hussey before, providing bikes for the recent 'Made in Britain' product campaign. Struck by the craftsmanship, Hussey and Buxton decided to develop the relationship into a collaboration, and the results are a limited edition run of two handcrafted, handbuilt bikes, strongly influenced by the understated, practical yet stylish aesthetic of Vulpine.
“August chimed perfectly with our design ideals. It turns out Gav and his wife Amy were already massive Vulpine fans. It was all falling into place. We needed to create something together.”
Buxton worked with Emmalou and Nick Hussey to create their ultimate, dream-build urban bikes. The finished products are almost surprisingly understated considering the levels of bling kit incorporated into the builds, and as you'd expect from a proudly British brand, UK-made components are heavily represented.
And if you like the look of them, you'll be pleased to discover that these bikes are available to buy, but in a very limited edition run. If you want one, you'll need to get your name down soon, and have a fair few pennies in the bank.
The Handsome Mixte
For those who may feel that a step-through frame bike will invariably weigh a tonne and come with basic componentry, the Handsome Mixte has been designed to prove you wrong.
This is the build selected for Emmalou Hussey, and features a raft of truly beautiful parts on a sleek, curved frame. The finished bike is delightfully understated; those in the know will stop and look, but it doesn't scream its worth, a consideration for the urban cyclist. Emmalou, who is described as a "stylish urban cyclist who also relishes rougher gravel paths" wanted a bike that was "highly practical, high performance, yet still elegant" and "handsome but distinctly female".
The frame is constructed from Columbus Zona, Columbus XCR and Aircraft grade 4130 Chromoly alloy tubing with a fillit brazed-bi-lam construction, partnered with a Pacenti Paris Brest fork crown that has been heavily modified by Buxton and custom built forks. The detailing continues in the handcrafted seat stay caps and braze-on logo. Buxton even sourced a very rare Capagnolo Record headset for the bike.
Gearing comes courtesy of a Campagnolo Potenza groupset with custom Capagnolo TT shifters, Paul Component racer brakes and cantilevers gives the stopping power, and brake levers and shifters are mounted to a Nitto Jitensha handlebar with a custom chromoly stem.
Every part of this bike has been carefully considered, with custom polished Campagnolo Record hubs forming the heart of the wheelset, matched with Pacenti Brevet rims, Sapin Race spoke, brass nipples, hand-built in house and finished with wonderfully retro-looking Compass Grand Bois 650b x 42c tyres, with tan sidewalls.
Those fat tyres aren't just for looks, and will make for a comfortable ride over tarmac, gravel and the uneven road surfaces that are an ubiquitous feature of large swathes of the UK's roads. Practicality continues in the mudguards, produced by Gil Berthoud, and Brooks saddle and bar tape. No urban bike would be complete without a bell, and the musical Crane bell satisfies this requirement with trademark style. There's even a rack that allows you to carry all you need with ease.
If you'd like to get a handcrafted bike like this for yourself then you'll need a cool £4,600 ($5,700). Each bike will be built to order and there are different build options available, though this will of course affect the price.
The Beyond Urban
If your style is more towards drop bars and you like speed and versatility, perhaps the Beyond Urban will be more up your street. Nick Hussey gave Buxton the brief of creating a 'go-anywhere, urban machine' and while at first sight this bike might look simple, under the hood it has all the electronic bells and whistles you could wish for.
Frame-wise, you'll find a fillit-brazed Columbus Spirit and Life tubing, a niobium alloy that is extremely strong allowing tubing to be made to a much thinner width: while the material is heavier, the strength increase means an overall weight saving when compared to many other alloys. An August tapered headtube, Hope headset and bottom bracket, August custom dropouts and handcrafted seat stay clips complete the frame, with a TRP CX carbon fork with tapered steerer.
The Beyond Urban features a full Ultegra Di2 Hydro disc CX groupset, and to keep the look of the bike as sleek as possible with gear and brake cable routing is internal.
Hope parts make another appearance in the wheels, with Hope tubs partnered with August 40mm carbon rims, Sapim CX Ray spokes with brass nipples and Jack Brown tyres.
Finish kit includes Fizik seatpost, handlebars, stem, saddle and bar tape.
If you're after this urban-come-cyclocross machine you'll need to raid the piggy bank to the tune of £5,500 ($6,850), though again if you'd like a different build this will affect the retail price.
Very limited availability
Both the Handsome Mixte and the Beyond Urban are available to buy, but if you do fancy one of these handcrafted lovelies, be aware that they are only available in extremely limited numbers.
Only five of each will be made, each in the signature Vulpin 'Made in Britain' navy and red livery, will be created to order and made to measure by Buxton. Buxton will also guide you through the component and wheel build options.
You can register your interest, and read more about the bikes, by popping over to the Vulpine website.
If you're in the UK, you can also see the bikes in the flesh at Bespoked, the UK hand-made bicycle show which takes place in Bristol from the 7th to the 9th of April.