There’s something about Japan that’s always captivated us, and with half of the Speedvagen cross team based there, we have a strong connection to the country. The opportunities we’ve had to travel, race, and learn with the SV Japan crew and their extended community stand as some of our favorite memories on (and off) the bike. Our friendships and experiences there, combined with our love of the Japanese commitment to design, have had us looking for the chance to design a component of the Speedvagen universe in Japan in for some time. We wanted an opportunity to bring our team ethos to life, infused with a combination of the unique Japanese aesthetic and our own focused commitment to detail and craft. This limited edition Speedvagen kit is that project.

Representing a fresh, fun and distinctly Eastern take on the Speedvagen approach to bikes and style, the design comes from SV Team Member Masashi Ichifuru, a good friend and member of the extended Speedvagen family. Ichico, as he’s known, has worked for some of Japan’s most well known animation houses, and is a talented graphic designer and photographer, as well as a lover of espresso with an enviable collection of hand made bikes. We asked Ichico to create a kit that felt connected to the way we ride and race—to how we approach bringing together the ideas of speed, friendship, and riding tough, without losing sight of taking care of fellow racers—and laughing at ourselves when appropriate. (Which is fairly often, frankly.) We think he nailed it.

The 2014 Surprise Me Collection designed by Ichico quickly became a fan favorite.

The 2014 Surprise Me Collection designed by Ichico quickly became a fan favorite.

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For the 2015 kit design, the SV shield gets re-imagined with a bold kanji character taking the place of the numeral 11. According to Ichico, “Unicorn, written in Japanese kanji character, is Ikkakujyu or ‘single horned beast.’” Ichico took the ‘beast’ part of the kanji character for the image, telling us it has the same meaning as the word “animal,” but with a wilder nuance. In his words, “In the same way the number “11” in the shield represents taking it further, in order to “take it to 11” the wild in you must come out and take over.” We couldn’t agree more. The kit’s stripes come from Ichico’s desire to create a clean, simple look that strongly represents the vibes of the team. To symbolize the relationship between the two halves of the SPEEDVAGEN family, Japanese and American, he created a bold and playful graphic component across the pockets, mixing the SPEEDVAGEN letters with the Katakana Japanese alphabet. The result is simultaneously vivid and simple, deftly balancing elegant execution with a sense of pure fun.

Taken together, the kit is a physical manifestation of the things we love about being on our bikes together. As Ichico said in a conversation about this project, “I love it when people and things come together perfectly at the last minute, as if a great script writer plotted it.” Or, as they say on the A-Team: I love it when a plan comes together.

ABOUT THE KIT For the jersey and bibs themselves, we turned to our friends at Castelli. Long time supporters of our SV race team—not to mention cross-town neighbors—Castelli is committed to making superior race kit. Their blend of decades-old history and modern material development echoes our own desire to bring craft principles together with the best possible ingredients.