Melburnians Chris Randall and Jess Sleep have commuted by bike for years, but they could never find a bike that fit their lifestyles. That is, one that looked as good displayed in a small apartment as it did on the road. One night, over a bottle of wine, the pair debated what their ultimate bike would look like – aesthetically and functionally.
“We had all of these ideas down on a napkin and the next morning, when we had clearer heads, we realised this idea actually had legs,” Sleep says.
From the napkin comes their Melbourne-based luxury bike company Copper Co. The range is limited to just two options: one for men, one for women. Although the primary design feature of both is slick copper plating (achieved through an extensive electroplating process in Melbourne that takes the base metal to its high-shine final coat), a few details differentiate them.
Wheels on the men’s bikes are black, while the women’s are white (feel free to request a colour swap if you desire). The men’s bikes are fitted with black leather seats from Brooks England; the women’s seats, also by Brooks, are honey coloured. The women’s bikes are also fitted with Soma Porteur racks.
“There’s no external gearing [on either design], so there’s nothing that needs a lot of maintaining, but all bikes can be brought back into us for fixing free of charge anyway,” says Randall.
The frames are built up with a mixture of Miche and Dia Compe components. You also have the option of selecting your handlebar style, curved drop bars for committed cyclists or flat risers for a casual riders.
Different parts come from Italy, America and England, but each bicycle is assembled by hand in the couple’s Melbourne garage. That’s one reason these bikes are so expensive – one will cost you $2995. (Think of it as a mode of transport, and a piece of sculpture.)
As an accessory that is intended for display in the home, it was important to Sleep and Randall that each bike was personalised in some way. You can customise your Copper Co Bikes sequence number, as well as a 15-character message.
“We have a real subtle spot on the bike, where we inscribe the individual bike sequence. We’ve had a few requests for #007 come through, for obvious reasons,” says Randall.
“Alongside the number, there’s a space where people can inscribe their names, or personal messages,” adds Sleep. “A lot of people either engrave their business name or their first name. We had someone whose alter ego was Blair Waldorf, so she had us inscribe, ‘xoxo’.”
At the moment, Sleep and Randall are working on a range of “bike-friendly, style-conscious” streetwear that will launch in September.
“We’re just finishing off our final samples for our apparel range,” says Sleep. “We’re working with another Melbourne company to have T-shirts, crew necks, long-sleeves… Clothing you’d wear as a casual commuter.”
“We wanted the whole experience of the brand to be consistent across the board,” says Randall. “It’s a simple product, done well.”