As part of the UK’s 14-18 NOW programme, the HMS President, permanently moored at the Victoria Embankment, has been repainted with a coat of dazzle camouflage. Dazzle has enjoyed renewed popularity over the last few years; it’s a poignant reminder of the role it played during the Great War.
The latest frame to roll out of the Donhou Bicycles workshop in Hackney Wick, built for a customer who is an architect, has been decorated with a theme inspired by dazzle camouflage, but there’s still no disguising the fact that it’s a damn fine bike.
The concept of dazzle camouflage is credited to Norman Wilkinson CBE (1878 – 1971), a British artist whose portfolio includes many of the iconic tourism posters for the British Railways, including one for the Monsal Trail in the Peak District, which forms a section of the Eroica Britannia route.
Rather than disguise, dazzle disrupts a ship’s distance, speed and shape by using contrasting colour and perspective. Its success in WW1 is unsure, however, due to too many contributing factors. One thing’s for certain: Tom Donhou’s paint skills deserve as much notice as his frame building.
Underneath that dazzling coat is a finely fillet brazed frame of Columbus XCR, visible through a couple of windows in the paint, offering a teasing view of the brass and steel. Being an architect, Tom’s customer expected the finest materials and construction possible.
A matching ENVE fork and stem complete the scene, along with their stem, wheels and seat mast, and it’s finished with an 11-speed Campagnolo Chorus groupset. It’ll put off the keenest submariner, unless they’ve got an eye for excellent bikes.
Special thanks to George Marshall for the photos.