The Supple Leopard SystemSix Recreation

The Supple Leopard SystemSix Recreation

Lloyd got in touch with us via Instagram to see if we could create something similar to a bike he'd seen on his feed. The bike was the same as his, a 2020 Cannondale SystemSix photographed on what we now know is the Burlington canal bridge in Hamilton, Canada. Set against the wrought iron superstructure, the futuristic looking road bike is adorned with an interesting vinyl design consisting mostly of hexagons and triangles. The image was posted to the Bikeporn subreddit by user A_Supple_Leopard and appears to be the only public image available. 

As with many of these types of projects it isn't economically viable to start shipping a bike back and forth to gather measurements, so we would need to utilise the geometry data provided by Cannondale to create a digital mock up of a 58cm SystemSix frame that we could use as a template. Once created this would give us a canvas on which to work, knowing the final results would be to scale.

As mentioned the design elements were relatively straightforward, using a collection of simple shapes and vinyl pieces. The difficulty from our perspective is with precision. Some of the elements follow the frame lines incredibly closely, so we needed to be precise with our frame mockup to ensure the finished stickers would sit along those contours as intended. 

Speaking of contours, the other challenge was balancing ease of installation with difficulty of installation. Let me explain. It's easier to apply a single sheet with each element spaced correctly, than it is to apply lots of individual stickers, putting the burden of spacing on the installer. The issue is modern frames have lots of creases and contours which are difficult to follow when applying a large sheet. The vinyl itself can bend and curve around everything, but the application tape used to transfer them with the correct spacing doesn't. 

This means we would need to study the various lumps and bumps of the SystemSix to identify the areas that could cause the most trouble during the install process and separate the design accordingly, this would make the difficulty of installation better but if we separate things too much, you start to impact the ease of installation. 

Eventually we settled on 7 large sheets, with just a handful of separated elements that would need to be applied 'free hand'. The biggest area of concern was towards the top of the down tube where it meets the head tube/forks. The largest piece of the whole design was the down tube element and it just starts to encroach on this area, so a selection of the triangles would need to be placed by hand. Overall this was a really fun project to tackle and we think Llody did a fantastic job with the install!

Let us know what project you think we should tackle next? 

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