Peter Smith's Anti Bike Style, a copper and chrome plated bespoke bicycle made from Columbus Air aero tubing. Pete's inspiration for his Anti Style bike filtered through decades of a life working with design. Throughout my career as a photographer I've often worked side by side with architects. One of my favourite stories on the eccentricities of the mindset of an architect, is exemplified in a building on the verge of Brisbane's CBD. The architect in question had entered a student competition back in the 1960's while he was studying at the University of Queensland. The competition entailed designing a building in a fresh new style. In the true sense of "Anti Style", David decided to design the most ridiculous design that he could conceive of. He won the competition and his design was transposed into a completed project. Every time I drive past that building, I smile and think of David.
For many years in the nineties my studio occupied the space adjacent to Lambert and Smith architects, in Edward Street Brisbane. At that time, one of the partners at Lambert and Smith was Peter Smith. Pete is also a bike rider, this week I unearthed Pete's old Frezoni. This frame takes the concept of "Anti-Bike-Style" to a whole other level.
Peter's Anti Style Bike was built in about 1989 by Joe Cosgrove, using Columbus AIR tubing. The Columbus AIR tubeset was first produced in the early 1980's for time trial bikes. For some bike porn addicts, AIR tubing is on the essential viewing list. There are many permeations possible with Columbus AIR. Pete's Anti Bike, has the top tube turned on it's side and the seat tube split at the bottom, using two fork blades. Take a look at the images of the AIR tubeset and you can see the extra small tube inserted into the main bar tube. Despite attempts to strengthen these AIR frames, they were a bit whippy. This one is also very heavy, the airfoil shapes resulted in frames which weighed a lot. Another experiment in steel and who cares Columbus AIR looks fantastic. There was a choice of two tube profiles for the seat tube, one would take a round seat post the other an aero shape post.
Pete put his anti style ideas into the finish, the chain stay and forks were copper plated. The rest of the frame was chrome plated over bare steel. The steel was not polished, this leaves a very rough industrial finish, not too different to hot dipped galvanisation.
Anyone who's familiar with metal polishing will understand the vast amount of time required in polishing a bicycle frame, ready for plating. I've recently experienced this first hand while polishing the chain stays and fork crown of the Bianchi X4. Pete's Anti Style bike ignores all of this.
I called Pete this week and asked him about the bike. Pete said he'd been cleaning up one day and decided to drop the bike off to Joe along with a 1930's Tom Wallace Special that he'd collected. Unfortunately only the frame now exists, the copper plated forks have been lost to time.
Peter said he decided to build a bike that was "Anti Style" so I guess he came up with the term, the frame certainly is that.
I remember riding with Pete back in the early 90's alongside his copper plated machine, and wondering what it was that drove Pete to design such a bike. Pete's anti-style bike exemplifies the mindset of a man, who's professional life often revolves around assessing the suitability of alternative materials. Part expression of Pete's individuality and part expression of his working life.
Whether you love or hate AIR tubing, Peter's version has the lot.
All images by Robert cobcroft