Luxury goods manufacturer Louis Vuitton has revealed details of its first bike collection, a collaboration with the Parisian manufacturer Maison Tamboite. The fruits of their labour are portrayed in the below video, which is about as heavy-handed in its use of French stereotypes as Emily in Paris, with an added dash of Generic Perfume Commercial.
Predictably, the bikes are covered in Louis Vuitton monograms and wrapped in leather. Even more predictably, they’re ruinously expensive, costing a lazy US$28,900 / €22,000 (roughly AU$38,500).
So what are we looking at here?
Luxury town bikes, my friends. There are two styles – a step-through and a “closed frame” – which are both chrome-accented town bikes. There is one size for each. The step-through is suitable for riders from “4’9″ – 5’4″ / 150 – 165 cm” the other one claims to fit riders from “5’2″ – 5’9″ / 165 – 180 cm”.
5’9” is not 180 cm, but sure.
Regardless of whether Louis Vuitton can convert between metric and imperial dimensions correctly or not (hint: not), at least they know what wheel size makes best sense for a retro-chic modern townie: the popular “27.6 inch/70 cm” dimension.
Are there gears? Who knows. It looks a lot like a singlespeed to me, but claims to have “2-speed cranks”. It’s possible that there’s niche proprietary planetary gearing in the bottom bracket – something like a Kappstein Doppio or a Schlumpf – but seeing as most of the other spec list is gibberish, I’m not holding my breath. The mudguards and rims(!) are made out of wood, and the bikes are supplied with a “crutch” – which I’ll assume is a kickstand lost in translation – and a bell. Quill stems, ergonomically awkward brake levers, and evocative swept-back handlebars complete the front end.
[Edit: A representative of Maison Tamboite confirmed that the two-speed mechanism is a hub gear model by Sturmey Archer, a product I reviewed at a previous publication and still use on a bike. The crankset is made by Spécialité T.A. The frame is constructed of stainless steel, with cast lugs, and the parts are re-polished and chrome plated.]
Depending on which model you opt for, the bikes come equipped with leather-accented porteur racks or rear pannier racks – perfect locations to stash your Louis Vuitton tennis racket bag (€1,370) or Louis Vuitton monogram kite (€7,050).
Maison Tamboite, the builder of these bikes, is a boutique town bike manufacturer located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. Its website talks up its confidentiality and discretion, its secret courtyard off rue Saint Nicholas, and its four-generation history of making luxury bicycles for Parisian elites like Edith Piaf. I cannot tell you how much of a pricing premium the Louis Vuitton bikes have over Maison Tamboite’s other creations, because pricing details are hidden in the locked ‘Confidential Universe’ section of the website.
Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, has a tangential alliance with a better known bike brand – since 2016, Pinarello has been owned by L. Catterton, itself a subsidiary of Louis Vuitton’s parent conglomerate LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) – Europe’s most valuable company.
Does this mean that we’ll see a leather-bound Dogma in the future? I’m not ruling it out, but in the meantime, if you’re a late capitalist with the urge to splurge on a Louis Vuitton bike, you know where to go.