All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

Bicycle Portraits

South Africa's diverse cycling culture celebrated in a beautiful book

by Karen Day
on 10 April 2012
sa-bicycle-portraits2.jpg

While commuting by bike has long been a natural choice in countries like the Netherlands and China, other nations around the world are only just starting to consider it a serious mode of transportation. In South Africa bike culture is lacking—especially outside of major cities—but cyclists Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler aim to change that. Taking to their own bikes, the enterprising duo rode nearly 4,000 miles around South Africa for the past two years photographing people who use bicycles everyday as their main means of transport.

sa-bicycle-portraits1.jpg

From their extensive endeavor they produced "Bicycle Portraits"—a series of three books featuring a motley of 162 cyclists and their bikes. Originally intended as a study on South African commuter culture, the books go well beyond beautiful imagery. Engelbrecht and Grobler began a conversation with each person they approached about how their bike fits into their lifestyle, pairing their unique stories—along with the person's name and location—with their portraits to showcase a diverse range of enthusiasts united by their passion.

sa-bicycle-portraits3.jpg

Adding even more charm to their handsome set of books, Engelbrecht and Grobler tapped South African artist Gabrielle Raaff to hand-paint individual watercolor maps for each cyclist's location. The overall layout builds a story that is as visually alluring as it is informative, enticing readers to understand the distinct relationships the cyclists have with their bikes.

sa-bicycle-portraits6.jpg

Engelbrecht and Grobler detailed the project in greater depth in a recent TED Talk they gave in Stellenbosch, but explain on the "Bicycle Portraits" website that their main objective is to "promote cycling as a means of independent transport to empower the underprivileged, and in fact, to encourage everyone capable to ride a bike as an alternative to driving a car, or even using public transport."

sa-bicycle-portraits7.jpg

Designed by Gabrielle Guy, the books are now available for purchase online, and will ship internationally. Those who pre-ordered a book in Cape Town will receive their copy by bike delivery, which Grobler tells us has been "an awesome experience" so far. "Bicycle Portraits" sells as a set of three for $100 or for $39 each.

See more of Engelbrecht and Grobler's portraits in the gallery below.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools
Loading More...