We challenged lead Cervélo graphic designer Tom Briggs with the task of creating a custom P5 bike graphic for reigning Ironman World Champion Frederik Van Lierde. With a background in both graffiti and fine art, and a passion for everything on two wheels, Tom jumped at the opportunity. Not only did he approach the challenge as a chance to push himself creatively, but also to get to know one of the best athletes in the world.
“Off the bat I knew where I wanted to go,” Tom says. “Not overly literal; a design that works as a whole. Top to bottom, front to back, it had to work as an entire bike and not just a different colour frame set.” Tom’s first step in creating the work was to speak extensively with the world champion himself.
In conversation, Tom set out to get a better idea of what drives a world champion. Their back and forth identified three core concepts that motivate Freddy and these became key elements of the design.
First and foremost is family. “Once you start to get a sense of who he is, you see that Freddy’s biggest motivation is his family” Tom says. “I knew I needed to integrate them into the design. Their names are incorporated into the inside of the fork and the Extended Seat Tube Cutout. It’s an internalization of him - the driving motivations inside him are his family.”
“Second is technology” explains Tom. He is quick to point out that Frederik got to be World Champion by being better in all aspects of his discipline, both as an athlete and in his understanding of technology. “It’s such a big part of who he is and what he does. Technology today is born on a computer. The first visualization comes from a series of pixels on a screen. Using the concept of pixels brings this idea full circle complementing both the athlete and the bike itself.”
The third key element of Tom’s design is speed. “The point of this bike and goal for the athlete is to go fast. Using the rush of pixels across the frame, I am integrating speed into that theme of technology. His Ironman World Champion winning time is on the top tube. I want him to look down and push himself to go even faster! And I’m confident that Freddy will agree with me on the importance of speed.”
With the key elements of the design identified, the next challenge was to work with the surface of the P5 itself to create something truly unique yet definitely ‘Cervélo.’ “The bike is not just a canvas that you are painting” Tom says of his approach. “The shape of the P5 is the art work. You are not just looking at a representation of an object. The graphic must complement the shape and function of the frame.” And for Tom, that meant using the engineering and design work that created the P5 as his final inspiration.
“You are hard pressed to find a bike, across the landscape of all bikes, that looks as mean and fast as the P5” Tom says. His appreciation for the P5 only grew while working with the engineers and designers behind the Ironman World Champion’s bike. “Engineers are interesting to work with. They think about things differently than most people. They tend to be rooted in knowledge and measurable fact. I feel there is a mutual respect between designers and engineers.”
“Ultimately,” Tom summarizes, “I had two objectives. First was to make sure that Frederik is happy with the bike. Second, I want everyone at Cervélo to love it as well. If my colleagues appreciate and are proud of the products we make, I consider it a success. And seeing Mark (ed. Reminnik, Industrial Designer at Cervélo) smile when he first saw it, makes me think we succeeded.”
Tom Briggs was born in Vancouver and spent some of his formative years in Chile. He later moved back to Canada and studied Graphic Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design earning the Gold Medal award for Graphic Design in his graduating class. Tom’s first bike came as a 14th birthday present from his father. He had asked for roller blades but, in hindsight Tom is very appreciative of this decision as riding is a huge part of his life. A former Toronto bike messenger, his favourite disciplines are downhill mountain biking and BMX and Tom currently rides a Cervélo T1. Just give us some time, and we’ll turn him into a roadie too!