Richard Mitchelson, the cycling artist better known as Rich Mitch, is part of the team launching a new blockchain-based project called Bike Club to bring together cyclists from pros to everyday riders, with members able to claim one of 10,000 unique avatars in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that he has designed, serving as proof of membership. Bike Club claims it is "the first-ever blockchain-based cycling club and NFT project built for the global cycling community."
Joining him in founding the venture, which will also donate a percentage of proceeds to cycling-related charities, are Shane ‘Scoop’ Cooper of sock firm DeFeet, Tyler Benedict of cycling website Bikerumor and a former Z Vetements pro rider turned World Cup mountain bike racer known as ‘Wolf’.
While it is the NTF aspect that is bound to grab attention and get people talking, the benefits promised by the club - including exclusive previews of new products from partner brands, or the chance to ride with pros – are tangible enough, and underline that this is much more than a gimmick.
Those benefits are also said to include “access to special events, private chats and AMAs ['ask me anything'] with pro athletes and industry stars, early access to new bikes and products, and qualify to win or earn gifts, special deals from brand partners, and so much more!”
A number of major brands have already signed up to the project, including bike manufacturers BMC, Felt and Parlee, the saddle maker Prologo, components firm 3T and the helmet business, Kask.
As far as the avatars are concerned, Bike Club says that “each Rider is randomly generated from hundreds of traits to ensure every one is uniquely collectible and will never be reproduced.
“For the cycling fan, the digital tifosi, your Bike Club Rider is the first point of entry into the future of cycling.”
On its website, Bike Club has set out a ‘Roadmap’ split into four phases to highlight how it is planned to evolve, with the first of those, the pre-mint stage, including launching the website and publicising it, as well as announcing partnerships with athletes and brands.
‘Mint Day’ itself – when membership opens and the avatars go on sale for an as-yet undisclosed fee – is scheduled to take place in mid-January – and constitutes Stage One of the Roadmap. This will be accompanied by charity donations and major prize giveaways as and when certain percentages of them are sold.
Stage Two will see the club expand to include mountain bikers, plus “some hidden traits will be revealed for the original Rider avatars that will unlock new capabilities and opportunities,” with “special airdrops and partner promotions planned for this phase and continuing on indefinitely,” as well as regular charity donations.
Stage Three, meanwhile, seems to be something of a work in progress and we imagine will evolve as the club develops, with the website saying: “Gamification in the Metaverse? Our own virtual world to ride and train in? Community led projects IRL? The creation of a Bike Club DAO and our own $BIKE token will allow us to become a fully community owned and operated entity, with Riders steering the Club’s future direction.
“The $BIKE token will allow Bike Club to return more value to its members and reward participation, create additional features like special Bidons that could give your Rider new powers, and more.”
NFTs are unique digital artworks such as those auctioned in recent days by Wout van Aert to commemorate his biggest wins, and the one-off Colnago bike image sold earlier this year for $8,600.
Proof – or indeed transfer – of ownership is achieved through blockchain technology, best known for its association with crypto currencies such as BitCoin and, specifically in the field of NFTs, Ethereum.
However, the huge amount of computing power required to power blockchain technology has seen crypto currencies, and indeed NFTs, strongly criticised on environmental grounds.
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