The design team at Instrmnt is in a constant pursuit of the most minimal and efficient designs possible. Even spelling out ”Instrument” was found to be too excessive; that’s how committed they are. So it comes as little surprise that their second project, a 2-speed city bike, at first glance appears to just be a normal bike. However, when one looks a bit closer you start to see just how serious they are about their practice. When approaching the product, the top priority for the team was to find a way to give form and function a balanced home within the nature of a city bike. To do so, the designers considered what makes a city bike unique from other typologies; they spend a fair amount of time each day being chained or carried to conform to the routine of the daily commuter. To tackle this, Instrumnt devised a deceivingly simple solution: a leather top tube protector that is a Swiss knife of sorts, functioning as a chip guard, carry grip and a shoulder pad. This, combined with a minimal and lightweight frame, makes the bike a versatile component of one’s day, able to be lifted or carried with ease.
The designers partnered with bike builders Freddie Grubb in this project, which shows through especially in some of the more advanced technology hidden in this bike. An internal Automatix 2-speed gear and a SRAM back-pedal coaster brake help adapt the bike to city life, with the whole assembly process taking place in Freddie Grubb’s South London workshop. To ensure though that the centerpiece of the design, leather top tube protector, was done right the designers commissioned Longside, an Oxford-based leather specialist. After each bike is finished at Freddie Grubb, they have the leather protector (and matching handlebar girps) stitched on to the frame by Longside. This kind of cross-disciplinary approach is a good example of what leads to a great design; with each specialist handling what they do best, and collaborating to create a product superior to what could have been created separately.