Timm Kölln’s The Peloton, a collection of portraits of the pros shot seconds after the finish line, captures the extreme physicality of the professional race experience. There’s Mark Cavendish looking suitably grimy in his former T-Mobile jersey moments after a Tour stage, and there’s Fabian Cancellara possessed of a bitterly acrid look in the embers of The Ronde (which, as the expression suggests, Spartacus didn’t win). So too we see Backstedt, McEwen, Ballan and many others, transfixed in states ranging from total exhaustion to beatified stoicism.
These will feature in a book Kölln is publishing through Rouleur later this year; some have already appeared in issue four of the magazine. At present, however, several are hung in the zen-like atrium of Villa Pasculli – the showroom-cum-HQ of Pasculli Bicycles, deep in Berlin’s Schöneberg neighbourhood. While Kölln’s aesthetic tends toward the black & white, his involvement with Pasculli – a rapidly expanding custom bike marque with a workshop in Italy – captures the colourful spirit of the brand through his photography and art direction.
Its range of road, TT, fixed and touring machines are as beautiful as they are colourful. When the showroom was opened last December, guests goggled at the delightful Berlino fixed-gear machine in a lustrous apple-green, the Pianazze road model in rose and white, and the shimmering aquamarine Zovallo (they’re all named after climbs in Pasculli’s native Apennines.
“Cycling is an aesthetic sport,” Kölln says as we sup espressi under Pasculli’s vaulted ceilings. “You have a lot of fantasy stuff inside your head, which is beautiful. You can tell stories through cycling, combining landscape, people and races with different characters and different regions. It’s beautiful to photograph.”
For more than five years Kölln has followed the peloton and come to know many riders intimately. As for cycling himself, he too was a committed rider, though his schedule today prevents the big mileages.
Pasculli also focus their endeavours on the rider. MD Andreas Hubert and co-founder Maik Kresse intend the collection to embody a type of emotionality that is so often lacking in spec-heavy, appliance-of-science brands. “Everybody who rides a Pasculli feels kind of special,” says Kölln. “It happens that if you ride one of these bikes you salute other Pasculli riders when you see them. It’s an emotional connection.”
That’s not to say that Pasculli skimp on bike science: “These are technical bikes,” says Andreas Hubert, “but I was fascinated that a road bike could really ‘emotionalise’ people. I took one to the Tour last year, and I must have been asked thirty or forty times about the bike.”
Pasculli make headturning-machines, there’s no doubt. So too is the space of Villa Pasculli a step beyond the usual retail experience. They intend it to be as much of a hangout as a showroom with its adjoining espresso bar, gallery, apparel section and suitably Bauhaus-style lounge zone. The premises were formerly a workshop for optical instruments and latterly a music hall, which in a previous life was graced by The Ramones and Nick Cave.
The point being, folk these days – riders as much as buyers – wish for narrative, emotion and style from their purchases as well as performance and functionality. On that score, Pasculli is doing a lot right – just ask Jens Voigt (rumour has it he’s a secret winter Pasculli Rider, but keep that to yourself for now).
Kevin Braddock is Contributing editor for GQ and the creator of Manzine. He currently resides in Berlin.
All photography © Timm Kölln
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