The concept is pretty simple - two wheels, pedals, a chain, and a frame. But within that basic mix of parts, it turns out there’s a lot of room for art. Quite a lot of room, actually. Even a basic bike can be a work of art - art that can also take you to work, or down a wooded path.
Trek Bicycles has been designing bikes from its headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin, since the 1970s. In those 40-plus years, the company has placed itself on the cutting edge of both bike technology and design. Both those attributes are on display through August in an exhibit at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend.
“Joy Ride: Designing Trek” features an extensive range of bikes, from Alberto Contador’s Tour de France-winning road bike, to the fat tire bike that Cedarburg native Eric Larsen rode to the South Pole, to fantastical and whimsical bikes conceived and built by Trek designers and artists.
"It can be two degrees of difference - that makes all the change in how the bike functions," says designer Ben Fullerton. "And there could be something that you want to do from an artistic standpoint, but if it hurts the ride, you have to find that compromise on something that actually functions and looks amazing."
Lake Effect's Mitch Teich had a chance to visit the exhibit and sit down with collections and exhibits curator Graeme Reid, along with four members of the Trek Bicycle team - product design director Steve Baumann, senior industrial designers Ben Fullerton & Kurt Heggland, and Project One specialist and historical collection curator Eric Maves: