Bespoke framebuilders, Rolo Bikes, offer all their clients a custom paint job and the owner of this bike asked for a folksy design based on the small hand-carved and brightly painted ‘Dala’ horses synonymous with the town of Nusnas in Sweden. “He liked the idea of painting a bike like one of the horses – another type of carbon steed – so we decided to look into it,” recalls Adam Wais of Rolo. “The bike is entirely hand painted, but it turned out so well that the customer could not bring himself to ride it, so we kept this frame and made a new one for him!”
Into the third dimension
One of the biggest technical challenges facing bespoke frame painters is transferring a two-dimensional idea or design onto the three-dimensional, interwoven tubes of a bike frame. When the starting point is a painting by Bridget Riley, an artist preoccupied with geometric patterns and optical illusion, the complex conundrum is particularly challenging. The variety of colours, coupled with the huge number of interlocking shapes that had to run coherently and seamlessly over this Saffron Frameworks frame made it one of the most complex and time-consuming projects that passed through the Cole Coatings paint booth in 2017. (Photos: Saffron Frameworks)
This Spoon Customs frame was Cole Coatings first foray into illustrated substrates and was produced in collaboration with London based illustrator, Sam Dunn. First of all, the frame and forks were painted in a crisp white top coat and the surface was then prepped ready for Dunn’s hand-drawn graphics, before a final protective clearcoat and polish was applied in the Cole Coatings paint booth. Photo: Sam Dunn
Not a Look
The paintings by the Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian, have a special resonance with cycling fans. The geometric shapes and slabs of primary colour inspired the famous La Vie Claire jersey worn by Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond in the 1980’s and the same paintings provide the inspiration for this Parlee Z-Zero, with the interior sides of the forks and seatstays picked out in the same geometric patterns and, in a fitting hommage, a small portrait of the artist adorns the top tube.
For many, the primary attraction of a bespoke paint job is to ride a bike that is totally unique. The owner of this frame approached Rob Nicholas of Bristol-based Colourburn Studios with the specific request to make it look like no other bike out there. “It was the third frame I’d painted for this particular customer, and he was pretty trusting in me. I’d been playing around with the idea of hand-painting parts of a frame in a more artistic style for a while, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do it. I don’t really have any sort of design in mind who I do this kind of work, it just sort of evolves as I go. The hard part is knowing the point at which the hand painted effect is finished.”
Graphic art, mathematical theory and bespoke framebuilding meld together in this collaborative project between Cole Coatings, Spoon Customs, and the M.C. Escher Foundation. The fractal, tessellating butterflies, based on a work by the Dutch graphic artist who gave us infinite stairwells and woodcuts of mind-boggling optical illusion, wrap seamlessly throughout the entire bike. Picture: Courtesy of Spoon Customs