Rapha + Liberty - Custom woman's road and town bike

Donhou rapha liberty road bike collaborationDonhou Rapha Liberty utility town bike collaboration

You may have seen some early releases from the Women’s Rapha + Liberty collection out on your travels of late, with the distinctive printed caps – their patterns sourced deep from within the Liberty archives. The full collection however comprises clothing for both road cycling and more casual city use, so Rapha asked us to help celebrate the collection by creating two different custom builds; one a road bike, the other a townie. 

The road bike is built around a thoroughbred custom frame, using a mix of Columbus’ Spirit and HSS steels. Fine fillet brazing work creates a smooth, streamlined look. Dura-Ace drivetrain and ENVE rims, stem and bars are included to offer a great quality riding experience. The geometry is all about speed and the frame is built to the specs of a female rider.

The real standout of this build though is the paint scheme – it’s inspired by a print from the Liberty archive which has been used on the pieces created for the Rapha + Liberty collection. Using a black candy, we faded the design from the front of the bike to back, creating depth for miles and that super-dynamic look. Combined with the precision placement of black dots on the pearl blue base it’s a lovely way of expressing what the bike (and the collection) is about – beauty, fluidity, and speed.

If you look carefully you’ll spot an emblem on the seat tube – between the stays – which is a little nod to the Liberty Cup, a women bike race run by the department store from 1901. To create the badge we worked from an illustration of the original cup, then created a laser-cut, stainless steel badge, which was then brazed onto the frame. Discovering little stories like this is one of the great things about working with a historic British brand like Liberty.

Donhou rapha liberty road bike collaboration stainless badgeDonhou Rapha liberty road bike collaboration stainless badgeDonhou rapha liberty road bike collaboration

The town bike we built draws on a lot of classic elements of city cycling, the step-through frame being the most immediately obvious. A custom-built bar and stem setup gives a lot of stability and a comfortable, upright riding position. 

The eye-catching paint job is inspired by a design found deep in the Liberty archive. The store is world-famous for its fabric prints, so it was very cool to be involved in bringing that heritage to bear on one of our frames. It’s the same print you’ll find throughout the Rapha + Liberty collection.

While the colour is prominent on the custom-made front forks, it fades out towards the back of the frame to create the impression of dynamism and movement. The scheme itself, with precise black dots on top of a pearly grey/green is all about invoking ideas of fluidity, beauty and speed.

We used a Gates carbon drive belt instead of the traditional chain – which makes for a hassle-free, clean drivetrain. Chris King hubs and headset add a flash of pink that mirrors the Rapha + Liberty highlights on both the clothing and frame.

Rear and back mudguards, plus super-responsive disc brakes, make this city cruiser more than equal to the task of riding in bad weather.

rapha liberty donhou town utility bike handlebarsrapha donhou liberty town utility bicyclerapha donhou liberty town utility bicycle fork chris king