David Millar unfolds new CHPT3 collection
His racing career might be over but it's clear David Millar has been keeping busy. Maybe a bit too busy, if you've been waiting for the latest instalment from his Chpt:3 brand, which has seemed a bit neglected of late.
Millar has had a lot on his plate; he's a regular fixture in the ITV4 commentary box on key races and is a mentor at the British Cycling Academy.
CHPT3 launched more than a year ago with a capsule collection of clothing that set a new bar for luxury cyclewear. A year later he's back, beefing up the initial wardrobe with a new waterproof jacket, named a K61, which was the number of Millar's apartment in Hong Kong, "which as you know has a monsoon season." There is also a technical three-ply jacket that feels as if it is made of neoprene and a couple of jerseys, including one inspired by his only Paris-Roubaix, when he stopped one lap short of the finish in the Roubaix velodrome to greet his family. He has named the jersey One More Lap.
All of the garments continue CHPT3's policy of using the most advanced fabrics available - whether they be in terms of lightness or breathability or protection - in as stylish a manner possible. Cost is not a consideration.
But it is Millar's diversion into bicycles that has generated the most interest - not the ridiculously cool Factor Bikes collaboration that he has spread his fairy dust over but something far more utilitarian. The humble Brompton.
"Brompton is a company based in London where they manufacture all their bikes. They train their own staff and it is almost artisan work on a massive scale and each bike is stamped by the frame builder. These are still handmade bikes and these are things I didn't even know about the Brompton," said Millar.
The CHPT3 Brompton is enough to grab the attention of the most fervently non-folding bike rider, because this is no ordinary Brompton. The CHPT3 version has disposed of mudguards, added a red Brooks C17 saddle, titanium forks and a sleek grey and red paint job. When the bike goes into full production next year it is even planned to be equipped with deep section carbon ribs. They've just got to find someone to make them.
"We're trying to turn the Brompton into more of a street bike. Many people will remember BMXing and how much fun they had doing that - I thought 'why should Brompton make you think about mudguards and tweeds when it could be more of a street thing?' As a tool it is incredible, it has changed my life. Ned Boulting and I rode parts of the Tour de France on them, we even did a ride over the Col de Valares and it was so much fun. You can wear normal clothes, you can go into a restaurant whenever you feel like it, go on a plane, go in a taxi, go in a car. They are different to normal bikes, which are about going places. This is about finding places, it is a whole different style of riding which many of us roadies have never done. We haven't used a bike as a tool, as something fun."
CHPT3 is a joint project between Millar and his friend, the designer Richard Pearce, who has also created the new Team Sky Castelli kit unveiled at the Rouleur Classic bike show in Victoria House, London on Thursday. Millar chose a bowling alley underneath Victoria House to launch the new CHPT3. Other friends of Millar have also had a hand in the development of the brand, including the designer Timothy Everest, who added some of the more intricate sartorial details.
The Brompton is more than just a frivolous excursion into the eccentricities of urban bike commuting. This is a definitive step into urban riding, and how convenient it can be. There's a city riding jacket that has its roots in the traditional Harrington coming soon, and further CHPT3 releases in the future.
Details of them, however, have yet to unfold.