by Caitlyn Daniels | Photography by Jimmy Johnston
When I think of bikers the first thing that comes to mind are the spandex-clad, advertisement-emblazoned slow pokes that always manage to end up right in front of me while I’m driving down busy streets. It isn’t until someone specifically mentions Europe and biking that an image of the caliber of bike created by Paul Atkins is brought to mind, making the origin of these bikes come full circle: Royal Tour Bicycles began with the image of a classy Parisian woman.
Looking for a change from his work in finance, Atkins became fixed on the feeling created by a passing moment found while traveling with his wife through Paris. “We were sitting at a café when I happened to look up and see an attractive woman — well-dressed, on a classic bike, with a baguette in the back,” he says. She was perfectly European. And European is exactly what he was looking for. As proven by my initial impression of bikers, biking in the States is a close mirror to how we live our lives — fast and efficient. It would only make sense that European biking shared the same characteristics that make people want to vacation there. This chic and laid-back approach to life is what Atkins wanted to mimic in his bike styles. So much so, in fact, that Europe is also the source of his bikes’ names. But they’re not just European, they are royal. Royal Tour is named for the monarchs we here in the U.S. have been separated from for so long (239 years, to be exact), and each bike is named after a famous one: Edward & Elizabeth, Ferdinand & Isabella, Louis & Marie. These royal pairings refer to the male and female versions of his bikes — in matching colors, of course.
Their majesties are handcrafted in Atkins’ Atlanta studio. The bike frames are fillet brazed (instead of welded) in shop, meaning a bronze filament is heated and used as a sort of glue to bind the pieces together. This sort of frame holds stronger, but takes more time. But that’s a compromise Atkins is willing to make; these bikes are “built for style,” after all.
Each piece has been carefully sourced from artisans around the country, with a few exceptions for the more technical bits, allowing each bike to have its own unique qualities. When the bike has been fully put together, down to the signature head badge, the whole process has taken about a week, provided there are no major catastrophes.
This began only one year ago. But, as far as career changes go, this one was timed particularly well. In 2015 alone the bicycle industry has grown from 5.8 to 6.1 million and biking to work has increased by 60 percent.
Royal Tour Bicycles
1200 Foster St. NW ER-2