Spécialiste Craft Sportswear x The Handmade Cyclist

We tell stories.

My name is Neil, I’m the Creative Director for the Handmade Cyclist.

I’m here to tell you a little about the new range of cycling kit - called Spécialiste - that we’ve created with Craft Sportswear of Sweden. But first, I’ll tell you a little about us.

The Handmade Cyclist specialise in cycling art and design. We create images that shine a light on the details, history, rites and legends of road cycling. Our artwork style is clean and modern.

Our subject matter can be quite historic - we feature some old stories, and riders, as well and the current day - but our artwork is always sharp, fresh and forward-looking. We try and walk the line between bold shapes and geometrical design and the fine details that bring a story to life. We’re focussed, and precise.

The image must tell a story. Stories connect with the viewer, they show thought, insight and understanding.

We’ve wanted to produce cycling clothing for a long time, but we’ve shied away from doing so as we're not interested in creating mid-range, so-so kit.

If we do it, we want the quality to be the highest it can be - which is where Craft comes in. We love Craft’s history and story, and the brand's massive technical know-how. Every Craft piece we've ever owned has fit perfectly and lasted brilliantly.

We've used Craft's technical expertise to create the kits that we would like to wear ourselves.

To create kit that doesn’t just look great, but which actually does help you ride faster, or further, or better. And that’s why I’m personally so excited about this collection. I think it looks and feels fresh - but that means nothing if it doesn’t deliver when it matters, on the road.

The Craft x The Handmade Cyclist Spécialiste kit will help the rider create their own stories.

There are many types of riders in the peloton, all with different roles.

The workers. The leaders. The strategists. The finishers. From the diesels of Roubaix to the butterflies of the Alps, the peloton comes in many shapes, sizes and specialisms.

We have collaborated with Craft to develop kit for three of the peloton’s spécialistes.

  • The Grimpeur - those bird-like climbers, for whom every gramme counts
  • The Puncheur - the explosive rider for the classics, escape artists who can ride the whole peloton off their wheel to finish alone
  • The Sprinteur - riders whose whole year can be defined in a few short seconds
A clean distinctive brand identity for each range

For the Spécialiste range we wanted to create something timeless. Kit that would feel as at home in 2025 - or in 1985 - as it would in 2019.

The Hacienda nightclub, Manchester, 1985.

We’ve always been very interested in ‘just right’ design. The best designs are minimal, powerful, immediate. No unnecessary details, nothing to compromise the message. And yet - involving, urgent, dynamic. Just right, in fact.

We took inspiration not just from some classic (and lesser known) cycling kits, although the mid-80’s peloton was a particular inspiration; but also jockey’s silks, yachting flags, classic football kits and more.
Original moodboard for a common language of shape and pattern across the range. Bold, geometric shapes to bring differing styles, colours and approach together.
Pattern development for detailing.
A colour palette that allowed each element of the range to feel different, but related, and which was wearable, distinctive and classic.
Grimpeurs... The Angels of the Mountains. These guys are the lightweights of the bunch - and they need their kit to match. Our hero garment for the Grimpeur range was to be the lightweight climbers jersey, for maximum breathability and ‘barely there’ weight.
The Grimpeur logo. Taking inspiration from the angel's wings, and the double chevron that marks the steepest climbs on maps.

This was the first garment we designed for the collaboration, and set the tone for the collection.

The bold, diagonal stripes were inspired by the industrial design of The Hacienda nightclub, and give a sense of purpose, movement and warning.

Detailing comes from our chevron design on the collar, cuffs and sleeve logos.

Asymmetric design was also a key theme for the collection - the women’s arm warmers feature non-matching patterns for you to mix up as you feel.

Women’s and men’s kits complement but contrast each other - but both feature cool, light base colours to keep the climber cool in the summer, and fresh accent colours particularly inspired by jockey silks.

Puncheurs will attack, attack and attack again until their opponents are defeated. They need to be able to perform at the end of a long event, to be able to attack and escape just when the race is at is hardest. They need to be aero, they need to have all-day comfort.
The Puncheur - explosive, powerful riders - using the chevrons to signify impact, velocity and targeted effort.

The Puncheur range was designed to be wearable, subtle and stylish with distinctive detailing. The logo reflects the Puncheur’s explosive power.

Again we use the diagonal stripes, with slightly less contrast, and a bolder variant of the chevron pattern on the collar and cuffs.

Colour palette was designed to contrast - our focus on the Puncheur range is simply to choose the most wearable, stylish and distinctive colours, to help you stand out from the peloton.

Sprinters are the sharp-shooters of the peloton. They have one bullet, they have to wait and suffer all day to use it, they are under huge pressure to hit the target. They are snipers. As any sprinter will tell you, they need to seek out every tiny advantage they can - to both save energy and then to maximise speed. A 200km race can be decided by 2mm.
The Sprinteur - racing and jockeying in formation towards the finishing line.

Our Sprinteur hero garment is the sprinter’s aerolight suit.

This garment features all Craft’s expertise at improving comfort, support and aerodynamics - it’s made from six different fabrics, with channeled sleeves and ergonomic seam placement to improve airflow.

We wanted to create a design that looked as fast as the suit performs. We extended the diagonal stripes motif, to create a set of stripes that wrap around the sprinter’s body from chest to thigh. The stripes are designed to both reflect the smooth passage of air over the suit and to accentuate the sprinters physique and strength - flowing over the pectorals and wrapping around the upper thigh.

We have contrasting colour palettes for the sprinters, all based around cool blues. A strong, masculine, dark, steel blue for the men and a cool, fresh blue with black accents for the women.

Speed is in the mind as much as the body. If you look great, you perform better. We want our sprinters to ride faster because they feel and look faster.

Created By
The Handmade Cyclist


All photos and text © The Handmade Cyclist 2020 • www.thehandmadecyclist.com • www.craftsportswear.com • Contact: info@thehandmadecyclist.com