Wheels of steel with universal appeal – what could be better?
For our most recent project with Japanese bicycle company tokyobike, we have taken the notion of inner-city cycling to a whole new level. Rolling under the ‘Make Nice Things’ banner, this latest collab explores the pleasure of enjoying the journey. Life is short – so why not take the ‘push-iron’ route and pedal through your days in style? Kinder to the environment, excellent for the quads and a brilliant way to watch the world go by – the Universal Works + tokyobike project promises to put a streamlined, practical spin on the daily commute (or quick whizz to the local shop).
Speaking about how the most recent instalment kicked off, UW founder David Keyte explained, “We’ve worked with tokyobike for a few years now. I have always been a fan – since renting bikes from them whenever I’ve been visiting Tokyo. I love their products and their attitude. I met with the London team by chance really – after connecting with Yu, who’s a talented photographer and member of the tokyobike London set-up. They asked us to make some jackets for their mechanics and that’s how the first collaboration started. Turned out the jackets were popular – not just with the staff, but with their customers as well.”
They stayed in touch, and after a second round of jackets were produced, we started thinking about how a tokyobike could become a ‘member’ of the UW team – an easy way to transport packages between the London UW stores or between the UW Nottingham HQ and the local UW store. Talks began in 2021, with David and Yu combining forces to mastermind the ‘Make Nice Things’ initiative – of which this new project is a part. Lightweight stuff, afterall, doesn’t really warrant an unnecessary car journey. If a parcel (or product) can fit into a rucksack or a tote, why add to the pollution problem? Why get stuck in traffic when you can weave through it? It’s a far more sustainable way to shift stock around between UW stores, as well as help Universal Works’ team feel more connected to the community.
Speaking about the creative process, David said,
“Yu and I were talking about the use of the English language in Japan. There are phrases we take for granted that take on a whole new appeal when they’re used out of context. The word ‘nice’ was one of them. We felt it was sometimes overlooked or overused and came to the conclusion that it was pretty unfair! After all – what’s wrong with ‘nice’? We should be making nice stuff and being nicer to one another. It’s just a simple way of saying something is good, worthwhile, of value or pleasant. It got us both thinking about how a bike is a nice way of getting about. Bingo! The UW + tokyobike project had expanded.”
The bike itself is a tokyobike Mini Velo with a 20inch wheel. It has that clean-cut, stripped- back but intensely joyful geometry that tokyobike have become well known for. In a rugged English Mustard shade (why not treat yourself to a Ploughman’s once you’ve peddled up that hill?) this 7-speed treat is also available with a frontal cargo rack to help transport your stuff with style.
The Mini Velo frame was chosen for its easy rideability. We needed a design that would be comfortable for our team members of all shapes, heights and sizes to use. The slightly smaller wheel size and no horizontal crossbar make it easy to hop on and off without drama. The optional cargo rack and mudguards guarantee a smooth, clean ride – whatever the British weather!
Alongside the bicycle, the 100% cotton navy twill Universal Works + tokyobike Mechanics Jacket, T-Shirt and Mechanic Cap are also available. Things have been refined a little on the original jacket design – this updated version comes without webbing or tool pockets. T-shirts and the six-panel cap feature the dual branding and sunshine yellow ‘Make Nice Things’ slogan. Cycling might be a sure-fire way to ramp up your cardio – but for us, as always, it’s important to spread a little love as well.