Yves de Contades hopped over to Denmark to take a look at the bespoke luxury designer bikes by Lauge Jensen.
A quick flight from London City Airport took me to Billund, Denmark, the home of Lego. Legoland was shut that day, however I was here to look at some beautifully engineered, chrome and gold motorbikes rather than the bestselling interlocking plastic bricks and their theme park.
With time to spare I headed in to Vejle, and met up with a friend at the Onkel cafe for a great Afri Cola, the German Cola from the sixties boasting the highest caffeine content of any cola, which was particularly useful at this juncture as my day had started at 4am. Vejle is a lovely little town three hours west of Copenhagen. It has a picturesque shopping street lined with cafes, and is best known for its rich history, verdant forests, the massive Vejle Fjord bridge, high tech companies and architectural marvels such as The Wave, a new apartment complex overlooking the harbour.
I recommend the Lodge Restaurant, particularly the Peas Crush Cocktail, which won Best Cocktail in Denmark, perfect for business networking and relaxing, and the Mira, a relaxing bar restaurant in a self contained cobbled courtyard surrounded by warm yellow walls and green shutters, strewn with wooden tables bedecked with candles - a warm convivial atmosphere.
I was fortunate enough to be dining that evening with the owners of Lauge Jensen, the luxury bespoke motorbike company, including the designer Uffe Lauge Jensen and owner Anders Kirk, Lego heir and international business entrepreneur, at his mansion just outside Vejle.
Dinner was an intimate affair in an Ian Fleming style setting, a dining room straight out of a Bond film set, with Rolls Royce bar and an exquisite collection of classic cars scattered around the race track themed room, including several early Lauge Jensen models - clearly exhibited as works of art. Danish hospitality is warm, friendly, humorous and sincere - the evening was a delight.
The next day we set off to visit the Lauge Jensen factory for a private tour with Uffe as our guide. The factory was immaculate, more like a museum than a petrol heads garage. Some of the bikes were exhibited at the front, including the now famous Lauge Jensen Gold Bike, a mixture of gold plate and gold leaf which surprisingly is not as bling as it sounds but an object of real beauty. The back room was a model factory, each section of the floor laid out with the pieces of bikes waiting to be hand assembled by the engineers.
I gained a fascinating insight into the nuts and bolts of creating these exquisite cruising machines. The meticulous detail that goes into the design of every bike is applied to each and every step of the fabrication process to ensure that each hand made bike is perfect in every way. It is inspirational to see the care and attention to detail lavished on these beautiful motorised sculptures, from the initial design process through to completion, and even onwards through the bike's life. Enormous time and effort goes into the safety of each bike and every part is annotated and rigorous safety tests imposed. The Lauge Jensen Motorbike is the first in the world to pass the EURO4 emission regulations, a matter of personal pride to the designer Uffe, who has lovingly prepared his bikes for the future.
Uffe showed men round the test room and I tried the test bike on a conveyor belt, which is hooked up via a cacophony of wires to a computer so that the engine can be tuned, tested and developed top perfection. This is where the magic is brewed up to make the heart of the bike, the engine, such a desirable work of art.
Finally it was time to jump on the bike and cruise around the peaceful suburban Danish streets. The engine sound is like the roar of an angry Danish god, that pours like honey over the glaciers and fjords, smoothed by the icy waters, till it resembles the soft rumble of thunder drumming in the distance. The ride is aimed at the serious bike fans, this bike may look like a museum piece but it’s made for cruising and to be enjoyed. It manages to blend smooth beauty with function and is a delightful ride. I can see why collectors are coming from all over to order their own bespoke version. There is even a Wayne Rooney design by the man himself. Roll on.
Lauge Jensen are launching two new models for 2014, we had a sneak preview and they are magnificent.
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