Our new PUBLIC bikes (prototypes) have been turning up all around San Francisco. We’ll have them for sale next month, but you can check them out right now on our PUBLIC website and maybe even win one in our contest.
When we showed our pal Laura Guido-Clark our line of bikes, she deemed the colors “lickable”. We liked that. Admittedly, we did not have “licking” in mind when we came up with these colors, but Laura makes her living understanding and applying the meaning and value of color to our world; so when she talks we sit up straight. Our bike colors – ironically – are derived from the world of cars and scooters. The “Milano” orange was inspired by a ’68 Vespa we’ve had in our office. Our robin’s egg blue was stolen from a vintage Porsche we spotted on the street. The green and white came from late ’60s BMW’s. There is also a ‘50s Thunderbird turquoise we might steal in the future. A lot of older cars were quite lickable.
It is hard to think of cars as being lickable these days. Their colors are predominantly versions of gray, dark gray and darker gray – and a black to keep designers and teenagers appeased. It’s probably just as well, because cars are a lot bigger than they used to be, and color makes objects appear larger. A big, honking Lincoln Navigator in our ‘Milano’ orange would scare just about anyone. Car shapes today are less distinct from each other – it’s often hard to tell a Mercedes from a Ford. So painting them with special colors would be an exercise in superficiality. And given the effect of cars on the environment in recent decades, car manufacturers are right to focus on efficiency and safety rather than color. Car culture as romance and beauty is mostly an exercise in nostalgia. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary rock band singing a paean to a Saturn or an Audi the way the Beach Boys or Jan and Dean swooned over the cars of their era. Maybe someday designers will create cars that are so smart and beautiful that they will again deserve special colors (they should talk to Laura), but until then we can give a nod to what was great about cars by moving some of their lickable colors into the future.
We’d just like to see more people on bikes, and pretty colors are one way to help people fall in love with them. Our bikes are also a thrill to ride and the result of two years of research and design. If you are in the Bay Area (and friendly), please stop by and take a spin. Just give us a call at 415.896.0123 to make an appointment. We’ll also have our bikes in SOHO, at the Tretorn store by mid May, and elsewhere around the US in coming months.