A Modern Antique: The Pedersen Bicycle Poster Project

I was asked to design a most special poster for a most special bike. The original Dursley was conceived in 1893 in England, by a Dane named Pedersen.

The unique truss frame design is currently being reproduced in the Czech Republic for a German importer and distributed here in the States by Dave Ductor. Dave wanted a poster to promote the bike and together, we came up with the idea of producing art in the style of a turn-of-the-19th century advertising poster.

The first idea was rather conservative, with two riders on their bikes.  I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this one.


At one time, I was an avid collector of Victorian era bikes and had the opportunity to ride an original Dursley Pedersen in France, in the mid 1990s. I was familiar with the upright, comfortable riding position.



I was enthusiastic about the poster project, but wanted to produce an image that would be fun not only for those interested in bicycles.  Much of my work is focussed on wildlife and humorous illustration, so the concept of using animals instead of people felt right. Lions are wonderful subjects, so I invented a headline to tie in with the main subject. Here is the initial pencil sketch and subsequent developmental notes. Pretty sloppy.



As the idea progressed, I wanted loyal subjects to admire the Pedersen while holding onto their inferior bicycles. I included bicycles that represented milestones in the evolution of 19th century bicycle technology including a velocipede, a couple ordinaries (high wheel bikes) and an early pneumatic safety bike with an enclosed chain guard.

As the characters developed, I worked them in layers in Photoshop.

Dave provided wonderful photographic reference, because accurate details on the modern Pedersen bike were important.

For those who know modern bikes, they will recognize the modern components including brakes, front hub driven lights, a rear derailleur and even a kickstand.  They are depicted in the poster because this is how many outfit their modern replicas today.

I produced the entire piece on my iMac using a WACOM tablet and stylus in Photoshop.  I’m as comfortable drawing on the tablet as I am on a piece of paper. I was hoping for the look of a stone lithograph, without denying the fact that the poster, like the bike itself, is a recreation of something from the past.


Here is how I outfitted my version of the Pedersen. A second generation is in the works, minus the rear derailleur hanger. This next bike will be slightly smaller with a higher saddle position. I am going for a more authentic appearance. The second frame will probably be a traditional dark green or claret! My wife and I have a couple of original circa 1900 posters. They serve as both inspiration and reference.


This post was featured at The Workbook on January 17, 2011.


13 Responses to “A Modern Antique: The Pedersen Bicycle Poster Project”

  1. Tom Evaniew says:

    Love the progression thru to the resulting poster – magnificant! Hooray for the animals! Trust them to know what is right (and humorous) in the world. I especially love the cat w/the mustache and black shoes ridding the Dursely Pedersen somewhere im France – he looks authetic:)

    • karledwards says:

      Thanks Tom. Yes, “hooray” for the animals. They are much more sensible than humans. Once the dust settles, I hope to do more animal/bike posters.

      That cool cat is clean shaven now!

      Both Erica and I appreciate your positive input on the site too.

  2. Tom says:

    By the way, love your new website!

  3. Bill Haylor. (UK) says:

    Another great image from Karl, a true cyclist and superb illustrator.

  4. Ruth Manning says:

    Karl, I love this story, and thanks so much for including the entire sketch progression, from scribbly to fruition….those little guys – the frog, lady bug – are delightful, but that lion KNOWS he’s cool….must be the bike.
    Thanks again for the inspiration,

    • karledwards says:

      Thanks, Ruth. I had so much fun doing this artwork. The bikes ride wonderfully and I could see why a lion would choose to ride a Pedersen!

  5. charles drayman says:


    you amaze me and how great that you give people an understanding of the process. Is that you with the big mustacho?

    sorry it took so long for a response

    Charles D

  6. zeedie says:

    who da guy wit the mustache? is that you Karl?

  7. Alexander Pollock says:

    Hi Karl:

    I know a lot of time has passed, but wanted to express my appreciation for your fine illustrations, especially for the Dursley Peterson. I am still bugling for the Wheelmen, and will send a photo of me playing for Jim Spillane who sadly passed away last Sunday. Hope to hear from you when time permits. Alex

  8. mike roberts says:

    Thats a lovely poster – just right.

  9. Karl, LOVE the poster. Fine work. I’ll track down the importer with what you have here. Thanks for your time on the phone. I’ll send you a photo of the Pedersen I saw 3 weeks ago in Austrai, on the Danube cycleway…


    William 201 327 5511

  10. David Snyder says:

    Karl, I hope that you continue with your interest in these Pedersen bikes. As one who races newer Cheltenham-Pedersens, I appreciate that these bikes are being kept relevant by people such as yourself, though they seem to be appreciated for their rarity here in the U.S. as much as for their considerable merits.

    Great poster BTW, and I’ll be following this blog.

    Dave (dddd)

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