What do you get when you combine the striking design of Vanhulsteijn bike with Japanese Urushi lacquer and gold leaf? You get a beautiful, very limited edition bike that is only available through Sotheby’s. While the standard Vanhulsteijn bikes (if you can call them that), are available from their web store on an ongoing basis, the Vanhulsteijn X Sotheby’s Urushi bikes will be limited to just 9 pieces. Each bike will be made to order and custom built for the owner so the limited seatpost adjustment won’t be an issue.

The bike is certainly attention grabbing, but the real stand out for this particular model is the amazing finish. Get up close, next.

Vanhulsteijn is a small bike building operation that was started by Herman van Hulsteijn in Arnhem, Netherlands around 2009. Drawing on his experience as a furniture maker, Herman actually built his first bike out of a group of tubes that were meant to be a lamp. As their bikes have become more popular, each frame continues to be handmade in their small workshop. Prices start at € 905,00 for a frameset, or roughly $1235 and complete bikes at € 1820, around $2484.


The-Urushi-Bicycle-Project5  The-Urushi-Bicycle-Project3

The Urushi finish gets its name from the sap of the Urushi or lacquer tree which is found in China, Korea, Japan, and the eastern Himalayas. The sap has a resin that will harden when exposed to the elements, becoming a hard, almost plastic like substance. The beautiful lacquer is not easy to come by though, as drying times for a single layer can talk up to 3 months, with most finished taking around 6 months to completion. Underneath the lacquer is a layer of gold leaf that was applied by Tsugaru Nuri.

The bike is finished off with custom made parts with Ray skin coverings and Vanhulsteijn logos and the individual number in a Maki-e technique which uses more gold dust in Urushi lacquer. There is no word on price, but should you be interested in what we’re assuming is a very expensive bike, contact Vanhulsteijn at



  1. Interesting Urushi facts: this was the finish applied to Japanese rifles in WWII, and the raw sap has a poison-ivy-like effect on some people, with blisters and itching as a result of exposure.

  2. It’s ironic that something so expensive and painstakingly crafted just looks like it was hit with cheap aqueous “flame” decals.

What do you think?