We’ve all heard conversations where a change of direction or discipline is first voiced; the practicalities of work and family balanced against the excitement and opportunities of following a different path in life. Even after pursuing a particular career that has met with recognised success, it’s not unusual to dream of starting afresh with new goals. Whether these lifestyle ‘adventurers’ decide to apply previously hard won knowledge and experience or strike out in an altogether unrelated field is perhaps a choice dictated by individual passions. But I imagine Pau Tena would entirely understand the temptation of new challenges that many consider but few act upon.
Especially as, after accompanying the Spanish Paralympic Squad to the Rio Olympic Games in his role as a professional biomechanic, Tena has chosen to establish Clementina; a bike brand that aims to capture the spirit of the Mediterranean in a race-bred steel bike that is handmade in Barcelona. ‘I’ve always been a painter,’ he volunteers, ‘and wanted to marry this artistic background with my 20 years of experience working as a biomechanic. Clementina encompasses a mix of my culture and tradition with the latest technology. All in a bike where speed and beauty are the objective.’
Speaking about his brand’s identity, it becomes clear Tena wants the design of his bikes to represent – symbolically, conceptually and aesthetically – a return to a creative culture. ‘When I think of the Mediterranean,’ he explains, ‘I can see the grapes on the vine, the orange groves. I can feel the sun on my back, smell the sea air and hear the road under my tyres. All of these sensations I want to combine in a performance driven bike. Blending beauty and geography with my values and beliefs in the steel tubes that I use.’
Deciding to initially focus on a single choice of frame, the process starts with a conversation over coffee in Tena’s workshop. ‘Each frame is built to be agile,’ he comments. ‘Stiff enough that when you put power down you go forward but comfortable enough to ride all day.’
‘Unlike a bike, the body is rarely perfectly symmetrical. You need to understand the union of the two,’ Tena continues before explaining how he prefers to work intuitively and conduct a bike fit by ‘eye’ rather than video; taking a series of measurements that will translate into a finished build.
As Clementina frames are handmade in standard sizes, the cost for a frameset is kept to a competitive €1870 when compared to a full-custom build; a sales model increasingly favoured by a number of well known independent frame fabricators. ‘Offering standard sizes,’ Tena explains, ‘reduces the waiting time for the client. It’s still a handmade product but not everyone is happy to have a 9 month gap between ordering and their bike being ready.’
With a frame constructed from Columbus tubing with a mixture of chroming and paint, Tena supplies complete builds tailored to an individual’s riding needs with colour options that conjure up his Mediterranean surroundings. ‘My favourites are a deep maroon that suggests a glass of red wine and a white that references the stone of the buildings where I live in the Gràcia district of Barcelona.’
Viewing the process of collaboration between himself and each client as the start of a journey, Tena believes this offers a sense of shared loyalty that mirrors the investment, not only in terms of the financial outlay, but in the longevity of the relationship the customer will enjoy with their Clementina bike. ‘People can buy whatever they want from the established manufacturers but, with steel, there’s a sense of soul. Speed and performance but with a sweetness to the ride. And it’s the combination of the fabricator’s experience and passion for steel as a material that is then influenced by the client’s locality and the roads they themselves ride. A build doesn’t stop when they collect their bike. Each climb and descent, the miles that roll under the wheels; all these add to the story.’
For more information on Clementina bikes or to place an order, contact Pau Tena: firstname.lastname@example.org
All images by kind permission of Ian S Walton; documentary photographer and soon to be Clementina owner.