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Brixton Cycles: The History Behind The Colours

Brixton Cycles: The History Behind The Colours

Brixton Cycles: The History Behind The Colours

With the new BC kit gracing the walls of the shop – and with a raft of new customers coming through our doors – we thought it would be a good time to talk about the origin of the colours with BC, their significance and how this has evolved over time. What better way to do this than by sitting down with the man himself: Lincoln! 

 

 

Behind The Colours 

What was Brixton like in the beginning?

‘In the 1980s Brixton had somewhat of a bad reputation, garnering this image of a no-go area, a dodgy place, especially after the events of the Brixton riots. In reality, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it was made out to be, and for people like me it was home. The area was hugely diverse, home to first-generation West Indians post-Windrush. Brixton’s negative perception came largely down to ingrained societal and institutional racism, and when Tim Clifford and Tom Wells decided to found Brixton Cycles in 1983, many looked upon them as crazy. How could a business like this succeed in such an area?’

‘Lo and behold, the shop lived on! Funnily enough, before I ever joined I actually bought my very first bike from there when I was 21. I then worked at a few different shops before becoming a cycle courier for several years, but eventually my patience wore thin. When Tom contacted me looking for new members for the team I jumped at the opportunity. I joined BC in 1989, and haven’t looked back since!'

 

 

When did BC adopt the colours?

‘The kit and the colours came about in the early 90s when I was involved in the MTB racing scene, which then led to the formation of BCC (more on that later!). However, the kit didn’t start out with the red, gold and green – initially, it was completely blacked out: black bibs, black shorts, and while this might not have been the most practical solution in the summer heat, it looked damn cool!’

‘As cool as it was, we then moved on and had a short period of red and black kit with the BC logo emblazoned across the chest and bibs before I eventually came up with the BC colours as we know them today. Since then, the kit has gone through various iterations – white panels thrown in here and there and various other tweaks to brighten it up – but the latest version is almost the same as it was all those years ago when the red, gold and green was first introduced, albeit slightly more modern!’

 

 

How were the colours influenced by the community/identity of the area?

‘The idea behind the kit was all about getting the Brixton name out there, not only promoting the co-op but also promoting and bringing more attention to Brixton as an area and community. By putting it front and centre, it was also taking a slight dig at the lack of diversity in the sport – rather than hiding it away and suppressing our background just to be accepted, we wore it with pride.’ 

‘As a predominantly African-Caribbean community, it was important to not hide away from that – the colours originate from and represent the Rastafarian religion: red = the blood of people, gold = sun and sky, green = the land and earth. Compared to anything else at the time, our kit completely stood out – you could recognise a Brixton rider from a mile off.’

 

 

BCC Beginnings

How did the BCC begin?

‘BCC was started as a necessity. For me as a black rider, finding a sponsor or a team to get entry into many of these races was nigh on impossible. Despite its open image, diversity in MTB racing was extremely low so the only way to get into a team was to create one – and thus BCC was born!’

‘We quickly gained notoriety in the scene and though we may not have been the fastest in the bunch, we were certainly the coolest! We had a small but passionate team in the beginning – the guys loved the shop and everything it was about, providing more of a community vibe than the well-established alternatives at the time, and eventually more people started to catch wind of it.’

 

 

How did the club evolve as it grew in size?

‘Eventually, we had team members competing across all disciplines of the sport, whether it was track, road, MTB – at this point we were purely a race team, but as we started to get more attention, we had to think about the direction we wanted it to take things with the club.’

‘As a shop, we decided that we wanted to take things to the next level by branching out, creating an inclusive cycling community that focuses more on the social side of cycling, rather than being purely a race team. This led to the two almost being operated as separate entities at the time, giving members the choice to ride how they wanted, whether it be competing or simply joining a social club ride. “Ride bikes, eat cake and leave no one behind” was a motto that was adopted – and is still the sentiment behind the club, in my mind!’ 

 

  

What are some of your favourite memories with BCC over the years?

‘There are almost too many to pick from, but if I had to choose, for me personally I’ve always enjoyed the big club rides with everyone representing in their Brixton Cycles kit, so a standout event for me has to be participating in the Paris–Roubaix sportive.’

‘Unlike the popular ASO event, this sportive is actually organised by a grassroots club out in Roubaix every two years, and we’ve been a part of it for the last 8 consecutive events with several big cobbles to our name after winning the ‘Best Team’ award four times on the trot! This has always been tremendous fun, and we often find ourselves getting recognised out there which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, the last couple of years have been disrupted due to COVID, but I’m very much looking forward to heading back out there.’

 

  

Club President

What does your role as club president involve?

‘I was assigned president many years ago as a lifetime role, and I’m well and truly devoted to that and feel extremely proud that I can be the figurehead of the movement we created. But in all honesty, what I do is not a lot these days! When there’s a special occasion I wave my hands, give a little speech, hand out some prizes, but day-to-day club duties are in the capable hands of the committee.’ 

‘The committee runs like a well-oiled machine, and when it comes to organisation they’re absolutely on-point. Whether it’s events, club rides and general admin – they make my life easy!’

 

 

What’s your favourite part of being BCC president?

‘Seeing where we started and how far we’ve come since the start. The club has gone through peaks and troughs over the years, but now we’re well over 300 strong and are one of the most diverse clubs in London. Getting people from all backgrounds  on bikes and putting Brixton on the map is my overarching goal, and I’d say we aren’t doing too bad at that.’

‘To see new members join that didn’t necessarily grow up in Brixton but feel a connection to what we’re trying to achieve really makes it all worth it, and hopefully, someday we can reach a point in our sport where we are truly diverse.’

 

 

BCC Now

How has BCC evolved in recent years?

‘Considering we simply started out as a race team, BCC has evolved massively over the years, and best of all, despite having been around for the best part of three decades, the club is more active than ever!’

‘The racing contingent is still going strong, with many of our members taking part in hill climbs, time trials, track league – the list goes on! We have all kinds of events going on of our own throughout the calendar whether it’s our big club rides, audax events, MTB rides, gravel rides – you name it, BCC does it. Even if it isn’t one of our events, chances are you’ll see someone wearing a Brixton jersey!’

  

Credit: Adrian Downie

 

What’s next for BCC?

‘Representation is still a big issue in the sport of cycling, and though we’re in a much better place in terms of diversity than we were in the 80s, there’s still a lot to improve upon. Settling isn’t an option, and though it may be an uphill battle, we’re on the right trajectory.’

‘The future of BCC is looking bright – we’ve got more events than ever and we’re constantly working with minority groups from all walks of life to spread that message of inclusivity, breaking down any barriers to entry within the sport of cycling by making Brixton a home and safe space for everyone. This was the goal from day one, and is very much still the main objective today.’

 

 

Want to rep the Brixton Cycles colours? Check out our BC merch here.

 

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