Many of us own a bike, used and loved or guiltily untouched. In a lifetime most people would have ridden a bicycle at least once or twice. The household familiarity of the bicycle makes it the perfect subject for a new and clever campaign to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
MS is a debilitating disease that affects over 23,000 Australians and over two million people worldwide. The condition disrupts the efficiency of the central nervous system with symptoms including loss of motor control, fatigue, pins and needles, bladder incontinence, constipation and cognitive difficulties.
The reality of living with such an unpredictable and varied autoimmune disorder remains largely unknown to those witnessing from the outside. Enter new insightful campaign, ‘This Bike has MS’ created by Grey Advertising Australia for the non-profit organisation MS Australia. In the lead up to the MS Melbourne Cycle in March, the campaign aims to raise awareness of MS by creating a bike that mimics the hindering symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
The bike represents a body that appears to be functional and normal from the outside however is physically broken on the inside. The bike was designed in collaboration with MS Ambassador and gold medal winning Paralympian Carol Cooke AM, bike mechanics, medical experts and MS sufferers. It was purposefully designed with a misaligned frame, dull brakes, an uncomfortable seat, balky tires and gears with missing teeth. These features make riding the bike an erratic and unsettling experience, simulating what living with MS may be like. Cooke explains that just as the bicycle has potentially imperceptible mechanical failures, her MS symptoms are hidden.
Bike builder Thom Pravada explains, “You’ll have to be constantly fighting the bike to stay straight…it’s going to be pretty fatiguing.”
The unease of riding an unbalanced bike mimics symptoms such as a loss of coordination, balance and functioning in the arms and legs, the neurological difficulties MS sufferers experience. What the bike cannot simulate however are the symptoms like vertigo and visual disturbances that sufferers also have to manage.
‘This Bike has MS’ is a powerful portrayal of a complex disease.
Video from: Grey Australia YouTube