If you’re a cinema buff, you might be starting to recognise some visual references in the theme of the latest bike from John Caletti: the Santa Cruz-based builder has created a rolling homage to Wes Anderson’s film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
The Red Cap Project is a collaborative project between John and his long-time designer and photographer friend, Peter Thomsen — Red Cap is a hat-tip to the film’s protagonist: oceanographer and documentarian Steve Zissou, and his eponymous red beanie.
Peter Thomsen is another Santa Cruz local and a photographer by trade who’s helped John with his graphic design skills too. He deftly applied his touch by designing the marvellous paint scheme. Love the work of Wes Anderson or not, you can’t help but admire the subtle allusions to the film.
The Red Cap Project was a request from a customer who wanted a Steve Zissou-themed ‘super-commuter’, and that’s definitely what he got — from the powder coated Ritchey handlebars to the Tubus racks, from the ‘red cap’ All City leather saddle to the Jaguar Shark on the chain stay.
It’s no show pony, however. The finishing kit was selected for ultimate dependability and longevity, even under the most dire weather conditions — just like Zissou’s research vessel, the Belafonte. It’s safe to say that even in a severe squall, riding this bike will make you smile.
Even the Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers in Scuba Yellow have been detailed typographically and graphically with two ‘portholes’ in keeping with the motif. Jacqueline is the name of the Belafonte’s ‘Deep Search’ underwater research craft and, incidentally, the name of Zissou’s first wife.
The frame is a mix of Columbus and True Temper tubes, topped with a matching Ritchey seat tube and the perfectly coordinated saddle which is reflected graphically on the seat tube — a symbol of the project. A Gates belt drive requires a split in the frame, deftly hidden behind the pannier.
Shimano’s XT disc brakes are suitably weather-proof and you won’t have to worry about the 105 crankset or the 11-speed Alfine shifters and internally-geared rear hub… They may not be top-of-the line but they are as functional as any higher tier.
Wes Anderson’s cinematic style might not be to everyone’s taste but for those of us who admire his vision, this’ll provide a real tickle. Special thanks to Peter Thomsen for the photos — head to the Red Cap Project website for more. This is an adventure.