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Design & build a cargo bike with printing press. Cycling across Europe to the birthplace of letterpress, printing postcards on the way. Read more

Bristol, UK Design
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on July 25, 2014.

Design & build a cargo bike with printing press. Cycling across Europe to the birthplace of letterpress, printing postcards on the way.

Bristol, UK Design
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About this project

Nick Hand and Robin Mather both have workshops at Centrespace in Bristol. Robin designs and builds bicycles and also teaches at the Bicycle Academy in Frome, Somerset. Nick, a graphic designer and photographer, runs a not-for-profit letterpress print shop that teaches folk how to compose and print. Nick is no stranger to long-distance rides, in 2009 he completed a 6,500-mile ride around the British Isles recording stories of artists and craftspeople along the way for the Slowcoast project.

The Printing Bike Project brings together both Nick and Robin's interests and skills to recreate what would have been common in Britain not so long ago. A bicycle designed to travel long distances and carry out a trade (though I guess traveling printers were less common!).

The idea includes design and build of the cargo bike not just to carry the Adana 8x5 printing press, but also inks, paper, type as well as camping and day to day living stuff. The next part of the project involves cycling down through England and France into Southern Germany to finally arrive in Mainz, which is where Johannes Gutenberg invented printing with moveable type in 1440. The project is thus a nod to the man that changed the world for the next five hundred years.

The journey involves meeting artists, writers and poets, who will describe the journey in illustration and word. Nick and Robin will print the original artworks on postcards and post these to supporters of the project there and then; creating and sending between 10-15 postcards along the route of this inky adventure.

Robin has been building bespoke bicycles for twenty years and has spent the last six months sketching (his first sketch adorns the top of this page), pushing and prodding the detail of this bicycle. He has built a full-size prototype which was on display at the Festival of Print at the Letterpress Collective in Bristol in May.

The bicycle will be built in July/August and the printing adventure from Bristol to Mainz will take place in mid September. Artists and writers taking part will be announced during the project funding period.

The budget includes the cost of building the bicycle, all materials for the bicycle and printing as well as funding the journey and costs of the artists involved. If there is anything over and beyond the costs of the project, they will be put back into the not-for-profit CIC Letterpress Collective and go towards new equipment needed for the project, including a guillotine and new type.

On return The Letterpress Collective will use the Printing Bike for delivering print in and around Bristol. We will also visit organisations such as schools to demonstrate the 500 year old art of typesetting and letterpress printing (without a computer in sight).

I would like to thank my brilliant friends at Centrespace for being so inspiring and especially the amazing Robin Mather (who you know about already) and Emma Lazenby who made the lovely little film at the top of this project.

Risks and challenges

The risks are in the logistics of the adventure, carrying a printing press, paper, ink and type as well as all the paraphernalia of camping and day to day living on a bicycle. Also the aspects of printing on route are tricky so drying sixty postcards somewhere (maybe in the rain) and then mailing them each day. Actually as I write the risks and challenges it also sounds like a lot of fun already. Another challenge is the physical one of riding a bicycle loaded with all that material up and down hills for 40-50 miles each day (again though kind of sounds like fun).

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FAQ

  • We have asked a couple of friends Jon McNaught and Hannah Cousins (and they've both made positive noises), we would also like to link up with a poet or writer or two, so that we can set a bit of type on the side of the road. Would be a nice and slow thing to do. We would like to link up with a few folk living in France and Germany and get them involved. Like our friend the anarchist printers at La fin du Monde who live outside of Paris. It will also give Robin and I an excuse to visit them (they are good company).

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge £5 or more

    32 backers Limited (368 left of 400)

    A Printing Bike Project postcard sent from The Letterpress Collective in Bristol.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £10 or more

    96 backers Limited (4 left of 100)

    A Printing Bike Project postcard sent on route during the bicycle journey to Mainz.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £20 or more

    47 backers Limited (28 left of 75)

    A Printing Bike Project poster printed at The Letterpress Collective in Bristol.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £30 or more

    52 backers Limited (348 left of 400)

    A book about the project including a selection of postcards from the journey.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £75 or more

    22 backers Limited (78 left of 100)

    The full set of postcards (10-15) printed on route and posted as the bike travels across Europe.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £125 or more

    9 backers Limited (11 left of 20)

    The full set of postcards (10-15) plus a book about the project with artists' signatures.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £200 or more

    4 backers Limited (11 left of 15)

    Places for two people at a one-day letterpress workshop in Bristol including a copy of the Printing Bike project book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United Kingdom
  • You selected
    Pledge £750 or more

    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    A visit to you anywhere in the UK with the printing bike and 20 copies of a postcard of your choice.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United Kingdom

Funding period

- (30 days)