Retirement from pro cycling marked a new beginning for David Millar - gone were the shackles of a contract, a life of freedom from sponsorship logos lay ahead.
So he set up Chpt3 - the anti-establishment luxury cycling brand, all muted greys and greens and pops of colour. It was limited run, hard to find, and crucially free from any sponsor logos.
This was high-end, custom produced Castelli, building on a relationship established during Millar’s pro career with Garmin Sharp. Subsequent partnerships followed, with Factor bikes and Brompton, all limited run, highly desirable special editions. The common thread here was the unmistakeable Chpt3 touch, slick colourways, stripped-back functionality. “It’s like what AMG is to Mercedes,” Millar once said of the Brompton partnership.
Tuning setups and collaborations run throughout the consumer landscape, from those who wave a magic wand over cars, such as the aforementioned AMG, as well as Alpina, Brabus, and Abarth, to fashion design houses that exist solely to tweak other people’s products, such as Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment Design. Then there is the legion of brands that collaborate with each other, often on trainers.
Chpt3 has now revealed itself to be the cycling industry’s first dedicated design house, with a new collection of perfectly curated collaborations with some of the most respected names in cycling. Poc and Fabric are in the mix for the first time, joining the original partners.
What sets Chpt3 apart is the choice of partners and the spirit of the brand. As with Castelli, the relationship with Poc can be traced back to Millar’s time with Garmin Sharp. The Factor connection is the result of a friendship, likewise with Brompton.
The new designs were unveiled at the Forest Park hotel near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, in front of invited media and Chpt3’s ambassadors, including Giro d’Italia 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal and current pro rider Adam Blythe. It was a location which, Peter Denton, Chpt3 marketing manager explained, reflected the common theme behind the new graphic design, inspired by the bark on the trees around Girona.
The Devesa design is basically a repetition of the number 3 to create a pattern that’s not unlike a monochrome camo. It has been applied to a new all-road Factor called the Vista, a Poc Ventral helmet and two models of sunglasses; and a range of Fabric saddles. The black and white design palette is brightened by pops of Chpt3 red, the shade of which is taken from the Eifel bridge in Girona, Millar’s home.
The only collaboration that didn’t get the Devesa pattern was a new Chpt3 Brompton. The last version was intended as a limited run of 700 and ended up selling 2,000, so the latest colourway is building on that. This time round it keeps the red accents and introduces matt black. The Devesa aspect is limited to the Fabric saddle.
Style and subtlety have been hallmarks of Chpt3 from day one -
The new Devesa collaborations are an organic evolution of the Chpt3 story. Apt, then, that they should look to nature for its inspiration.