Over the last two years James Selman and Matt Stein have been honing, crafting, and shaping their studio called weights&pulleys. After a decade of defining brands and customer relationships for big and small clients, they turned inward to balance more personal ambitions with work. One such project is called Beloved. Stein comes to the idea as pure designer, a culture & style enthusiast who’s self-definition of his akin to cycling is “one who appreciates & respects.” In contrast Selman’s perspective goes back to endurance mountain bike racing, while his portfolio is nearly responsible for everything Nike ever made with Lance Armstrong and w&p creating the iconography for Mellow Johnny’s. Together these two and their completely different relationships with the bicycle have woven a new story, and are now bringing that attention and thought to Beloved.
Let’s just jump right into it here, what does the Rapha Continental mean to you?
James: I think it’s finding like-minded people. I think that’s what the Continental is for me: a wide group of like-minded people, they’re soloists, but have come together to do the riding, which is interesting. We all have our own head space but then there’s this sharing and this weird glue and gum that makes us all stick together. And it is that joy I’m into… The suffering together part of it, of beating each other up, it’s good. You test each other, and some days are better than others but no one really gets more than the others and most people don’t get really bummed out about it. It’s a good push for all.
What kind of motivators did you have for wanting to start Beloved? What did you think that you could bring to this cycling community?
Matt: Part was having spent a bunch of time in Amsterdam and being there long enough to feel the everyday bike culture. It was a re-introduction to the joy of riding and just a real connected relationship to bike & city. The other was being back in the States and wanting to find a great classic commuting bike. I wanted style. And style that I could ride, style that could delver the feeling I was looking for. A little more Il Postino than Dutch bike. Something that made me smile. Finding it became more complicated than it needed to be. Walking into big shops, not really seeing what i was looking for, trying to ask around for a few things but not really…
Knowing what to ask for?
M: Yeah, or getting much help from anybody. I was just steered towards the inventory on the floor. I wound up with a slightly modified cyclocross bike with decent paint. So when the opportunity came to put Beloved together it was just one of those things like walking into a happy accident, “Holy Shit, this is great. This is what I’ve always been looking for; these types of bikes.”
What is it about these Beloved bicycles that really set them apart?
M: Details. With Beloved, it is the details and the build outs and the way the bikes feel when you ride them. It re-inspires my desire to get back on a bike and ride. It is the same with Continental, that is not really the type of riding I do, but the way the rides are expressed make me feel the details, I can feel the moments; the scenery and the camaraderie of the riders, it definitely inspires me to want to do it. To aspire to doing it. If I was going to go riding and really put some time in the saddle, that’s the way I’d want to do it. You can feel the joy in it.
I think that’s the power of design. Being able to arrange details, type, color, compositions to explain or share cerebral emotions and moments. To hatch them, serve them up, hold them up. Let others plug into them & feel what’s in there to feel.
Then how do those things play out into your bicycle designs? Just in terms of let’s say paint jobs or finishing touches?
J: It is interesting because I think it is the details that hold it all together. As Matt said, Epic is in the details. I think that’s exactly what I described when remembering rides. It’s the details and that’s what makes it really what it is. Same with the bikes. I think putting a simple thing like the handle on the Every Day model, making it about color, not wanting to paint fenders or racks or so forth. It was about being pure, but trying to again source and find those little things. Trying to stay simple wtih chrome and let the bike be the bike; let the components be the components. I guess graphically it was a wink, the two chrome bands that go with the mark, a wink to all the beautifully crafted frames that were chromed back in the day, it’s also the one thing that hooks within the rest of the componentry. The idea, again the details of coming together, I mean the way that the Beloved logo on the actual bike is different than anywhere else. When on the frame the Beloved logos join and form a circle, the two coming together. The rider and the bike.
I could see starting a new bike company in Portland as being kind of a daunting task just because there is already this handmade culture to it. How does Beloved fit into this?
M: We definitely pull inspiration from the community. It’s hard not to. There’s also a sort of standard flowing around the Oregon bike zeitgeist as far as quality and craftsmanship go. There’s a lot to live up too.
Let’s say that you are, and this is true, that you are matching all those standards in terms of an esthetic and quality and performance, why then do people choose you over someone else?
J: We have a phrase “to mass produce the joy of cycling.” You can take that two ways. You can take it, Okay we’re cranking but we’re not cranking out schlock. As much as we’re influenced by Portland, or as much as I’m influenced by what’s going on now, I’m also influenced by knowing and selling Bridgestone. Another era where craftsmanship and style came together, but in a larger production. Not much gets made in this country anymore, so if we, as Beloved, can have 10 guys making it here, loving what they are doing, then there is something to be said for that. Yeah, it costs more but your money is buying better quality with production turn around times, and get it to you in 4-6 weeks. Then enough range where you don’t feel burdened or overwhelmed by component choices, but yet you can feel a part of it because it’s based on what kind of riding you wish to do, the color, which is personal to you, and you can get it soon and be on your way.
M: We want Beloved to be as approachable and accessible as it can be. And I think some of that is what James was saying, getting bikes to you that you feel are right for you. It’s your Beloved.
Having two of you somehow makes sense. To be able to have someone pushing it one way and someone else having a totally different perspective on it.
M: It’s good good. I think we sort of almost straddle the spectrum because we start into the process of creation so opposite.
J: It was really important, that was a big thing when we decided on ‘“the joy of cycling” and the French Constructeur era and how we wanted the brand to approach the consumer. It was Matt’s experience, along with folks who feel sort of out of place when they go into a shop… So how can we, again, make that, the point being as Matt said, be as accessible and approachable as possible? I think that’s where we evened out. Not in a hybrid way, I think we evened it out in a very natural classic way. It was taking all the goodness of various eras and putting them together in a neat little package. A package of both style and performance. And it needed to be joyful in every way. Getting people riding bikes again. Chasing the sun.
For more info visit: belovedcycles.com