Having a custom bike is a privilege afforded to a handful of working professional cyclists, and those of us with deep enough pockets to buy one. The national and world champions, the leader's jersey wearers in grand tours, and the long-established legends of the sport usually carve through the landscape amongst the WorldTour peloton atop bespoke versions of the best road bikes, but it's rare for a former pro to be afforded such treatment.
It's been 10 years since Bradley Wiggins' stellar season in which he won the Tour de France, wore the yellow jersey for 13 stages, and won the Olympics time trial to cap it all off. It's one of those extended moments that holds a certain unshakeable place in the British cycling psyche, perhaps extending back to Mark Cavendish winning the world championships at the end of the previous season.
To commemorate the achievements of one of the most easily identifiable Knights of the Realm, Vires Velo has created a one-off Factor Ostro VAM in collaboration with artist Karl Kopinski. The striking white frame features a yellow butterfly for each day he spent in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, as well as those from Paris Nice, Tour de Romandie, Criterium du Dauphine, and a gold one on the stem for the Olympic title.
It's got white tyres and unusual wheels. No matter how fancy the paintjob these two details are going to be what catches your eye first. The tyres are a white special edition of the Schwalbe Pro One produced in collaboration with Fabian Cancellara, while the wheels are Black Inc's Five Spoke model.
Black Inc also supplied the one-piece bar-stem and bar tape, upon and beneath which Dura-Ace Di2 hoods were mounted. While that may have sounded like a setup where I reveal that the bike is actually an unusual mix of drivetrain components, it actually runs Dura Ace throughout, with the only deviation being the addition of a gold (naturally) CeramicSpeed OSPW. A white Fizik Arione tops the proprietary Factor seatpost.
Painting bikes can be done in a number of ways: A rattle can, a powder coat, or wet painting are the most common, but it's unusual for pots of paint and brushes to make an appearance, with painters usually preferring to opt for an airbrush for detail work.
As mentioned before the butterflies were hand applied with liquid paint over a base of white pearl. The aim was to emulate the feel and motion that watercolours evoke when colours run together, but watercolours don't make a great medium for painting bikes.
The bike was then handed over to Wiggins down a side street in Tottenham out the back of a van, which feels very in character, if a little unceremonious for a bike of this calibre.
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