Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Butterfly Bike
Discover the story behind Sir Bradley Wiggins' specially commissioned Factor Ostro, hand-painted by Karl Kopinski and custom built by Vires Velo
File this one under “Works of Art”
Vires Velo was privileged to be commissioned by Wiggins to create and build something special to mark the 10-year anniversary of his historic Tour de France victory and Olympic Gold Medal in 2012. It was a year that changed everything for cycling in Britain and the legacy of Wiggins’ achievements live on to this day. It was only fitting to assemble a build worthy of his palmarès.
To help create something unique, we turned to our friend and renowned artist Karl Kopinski. The bike is adorned with 34 butterflies, each one meticulously hand-painted onto the frame by Kopinski.
On the frame and forks, 33 butterflies represent each day Wiggins spent in Yellow during 2012 at the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Dauphine and Tour de Romandie.
One gold butterfly flies with him on the barstem, representing his gold medal in the ITT at the London 2012 games. This week marks the 10-year anniversary of this memorable day which inspired a nation.
The Butterfly Bike
The canvas for the build is Factor’s OSTRO VAM, custom painted in a pearl white finish with gold logos. A Black Inc barstem was also specially painted in a matching pearl white finish for Kopinski to work on.
Black Inc’s FIVE spoke wheels were specially requested by Wiggins for the build and we fitted them with white tyres to match the bike. It was fortunate that CeramicSpeed launched a Gold OSPW earlier this year which made for a fitting upgrade on the drivetrain.
We fitted the latest Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 12-speed groupset to the bike with 175mm cranks with white bar tape from Black Inc and a white Fizik saddle to complete the build.
Wiggins had a clear idea of what he wanted the bike to represent and we turned to Karl Kopinski to help bring the vision to life. Kopinski is a passionate cycling fan and has worked with Vires Velo, Factor & Wiggins in the past on various projects. It was a perfect match.
Once the frameset had been given a pearl-white base coat, it was sent to Kopinski’s studio for him to work his magic. After completing watercolour sketches (pictured) of the concept for the butterflies and getting the nod, Kopinski turned his hand to the frame. He used liquid acrylic paints to achieve a watercolour effect and allow for the colours to run into each other, giving the butterflies energy and a sense of movement. In total, 33 butterflies were hand-drawn onto the frame and fork and one gold butterfly was added to the barstem. It took weeks to complete and the results are flawless.
Once the hand-painting was complete, the frame was returned and sent to the paint shop to apply a protective coating to seal and protect the artwork.
After weeks of researching and sourcing the perfect components to pair with the build, the bike was carefully assembled at the Vires Velo workshop at our HQ in Norfolk by our highly skilled mechanics. We have seen many special bikes pass through the workshop, but none more special than this.
Vires Velo Managing Director, John Bailey, chose to deliver the bike to its new custodian by hand. This was in part to ensure the bike’s safe transit and also in the interest of time, there was an opportunity to meet when both parties would be in London. London is home for Wiggins and John and his wife were staying in North London to attend a performance at White Hart Lane (Lady Gaga in case you were wondering, Mrs Bailey’s choice). This meant the no-thrills new bike day handover was made down a side street in Tottenham.
Once the new bike was safely handed over, Wiggins took the bike on its maiden voyage, travelling south back over the river through central London and its iconic landmarks.
Pictures of the journey courtesy of Gareth Winter.
10 Years On
1st August 2022
In the early hours of August 1st 2022, Wiggins rode out to South West London on his new Factor and retraced the London 2012 Olympic Time Trial course.
On that very same day in 2012, thousands of people lined the streets to cheer Wiggins on to gold medal glory. Scenes that many will never forget.
May this new bike serve as a constant reminder of Sir Bradley Wiggins’ achievements that year.