Why the Pope Rides a Breezer
The bike manufacturer gifts a dressed-up utilty bike in custom white-and-gold papal regalia
In honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. last week, Philadelphia-based Breezer Bikes rolled out a custom-painted Downtown 8 for His Holiness. Mayor Michael Nutter and the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board delivered the bicycle, which was received on behalf of the pope by Archbishop Charles Chaput, at a ceremony in the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Breezer said the bike was created as a tribute to Francis' advocacy for environmentally responsible transportation. The company referenced the second encyclical, in which the pope calls for a shift in social consciousness about the way we live, with references to transportation and more livable cities.
Joe Breeze, founder of Breezer Bikes and longtime advocate for bicycles as clean transportation, underscored the point. “The bicycle is a great tool for humanity, giving us personal mobility in a clean and sustainable form,” he said. “[It’s] the most efficient form of personal transport ever devised…and it helps connect people and communities and brings us health and joy.”
The Downtown 8 donated to Francis was a one-off designed and finished by Amanda Dirksen Cantanzaro, head of the graphics team at Breezer’s parent company, Advanced Sports Group. Among other personalized touches, the frame bears the Spanish translation of Francis' regnal name on the top tube, “Papa Francisco,” the Roman Numerals 266 on the seat tube to signify his reign, two hand-painted passages from the book of Matthew, and a custom head badge of the papal coat of arms and an angel-wing chain guard both created by Canadian industrial designers Carl & Rose.
Other than the finishing touches, the bike is identical to a stock Downtown 8, with an internal-hub Nexus 8-speed drivetrain and a chromoly frame. And while we absolutely love the bike, we can’t help but wonder if the step-through model might have been easier to handle with those papal robes.