The phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ opens up two of the things about Bikevibe that have distracted me from looking more closely at the Norwegian biannual. Although a magazine, its bookish weight and format mean it sits among those publications on the cusp of being both mag and book, and that sometimes end up as neither. The hideous word ‘bookazine’ lurks around the project, though thankfully I don’t see it on their website.
And then there’s the cover itself. In some respects beautiful and subtle, in others just difficult and frustrating. The designer in me admires the blankness of a blind emboss on coloured, matt card; the retailer is less impressed. For the Portland edition, the black cover meant it was just about unsaleable. The copies sat artfully in the shop, gathering dust.
Yet the new, fifth, issue drew my attention. After covering the cycling scenes of Tokyo, Oslo, Portland and Milan, the choice of London as the subject of the fifth issue forced me to look closer. Here was my home city observed through the prism of cycling. And I liked what I found.
If you’re a keen London cyclist you’re unlikely to be surprised by much of what the Bikevibe team have uncovered, but as an interested ex-cyclist the research felt broad and thorough. The story of Rapha, told via an interview with founder Simon Mottram; the Brompton fold-up; Look Mum No Hands; the east-west cycle superhighway; Santander hire bikes; Rouleur magazine. Add in a few lesser-known shops and specialist groups like Ride With Wolves, who seek to increase diversity in cycling, and the magazine really gives a flavour of cycling in our city, and its increasing importance for commuting independence. And its arrival just ahead of the summer is perfect.
It’s always pleasing to be surprised by a magazine, and for that reason Bikevibe is this week’s Magazine of the Week. It’s a well-researched, hefty and smart-looking publication, hidden behind a blank cover. Assuming the other cities they are covered as well as London is, they make a great series — and of course those coloured covers will look great lined up on a bookshelf.
Editor-in-chief: Mari Oshaug