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Custom Paint – A Masterclass In Bespoke Bicycle Paintwork


(energetic electronic music) – Custom paint jobs are seriously cool Everyone loves a really bling, sparkly paint job, but is custom paint just for pros like Peter Sagan or Mark Cavendish? Well, no, of course it isn't, so to find out how you can get a bike custom painted and what it involves, I've come here to Business as Usual in Bristol in the UK, 'cause inside here is Colourburn Studio, who are specialists in custom painting bikes

I'm gonna find out what it involves and how you can go about getting your bike custom painted Rob at Colourburn Studios is a master of his trade and has painted the bikes of national champions and also many of the custom Argon 18 bikes of the Astana team last season, including Miguel Angel Lopez So let's go in and take a look at some of his work He's actually gonna do some custom painting for us, as well Can't wait

♪ Hey hey hey ♪ (mid-tempo hiphop music) – Come in – So this is where the magic happens – [Rob] Yeah, some people would say that You just happened to walk in on some of the last stages of Connor's, that's his 2019 bike Yeah, should be finished up on that next week

Yes, having to do the last graphics bond and that one's going out the door – This is Connor Swift, national champion, well, British national champion on the road That's looking pretty tasty there, isn't it? – Yeah, it's pretty different to his, his other one was kind of like wild paint splashes Genesis wanted something a bit different for this one, but they're pretty easy They just put me straight in touch with Connor and just kind of let him choose what he wanted and he said he wanted some crazy snow camo type stuff, so that's what we went for

– Well, you've kindly agreed to paint a stem for us to show the custom painting process I have a confession to make, though We did actually send the stem a few days ago because it needed to be primered in order to– – Yeah, the primer is probably the only thing I can't do for you today, 'cause it needs a good 24 hours to cure So the first initial steps I did on this were sanding it, and this was an anodized stem It didn't have any paint on it originally

You can get the media blasted if you want to, or with this one, I just keyed it up and removed the logos from it to give the the primer something nice to stick to, flattened it off, and then before I primered it, I masked off all the clamping surfaces, because you don't really want paint on a clamping surface 'cause it'll crack, and also on tight tolerance spaces like the insides of the the steerer tube here and where the handlebars clamp onto, there's not much space for paint, and if you try and slide that onto a steerer tube, you're obviously gonna get issues when the paint– – So that's why you've got all that tape and masking there – So this is– – So any paint– – [Rob] There's vinyl masking tape on the inside just to stop paint getting in the places you don't want it, basically – [Ollie] So this is an aluminium stem, but what would have been different if it had been a carbon stem? – As far as stems go, there's not that much in it, to be honest You treat the initial process the same You remove the factory graphics

A lot of the time, they'll come with graphics which are actually sort of like dry-wet transfers underneath the lacquer, and you'll be able to feel them under the lacquer So you either wanna remove them completely or at the very least, flatten 'em off so you can't feel them anymore, 'cause otherwise you'll feel them underneath the paint after you've painted it – [Ollie] We're using a stem, but the principles, I guess, still apply to a whole bike frame, as well – Yeah, and it's different when you do a bike frame, because with aluminium, steel, stainless steel, titanium frames, you can have the media blasted, which is a process like sandblasting where you can remove all the old rust, grime, paint, factory paint quite quickly and easily with that process, which you can't do on carbon because it'll just destroy the carbon frame So a carbon frame you have to treat very gently and remove all the factory graphics and paint by hand, which is quite a long and grueling process, but because with stems, because it's not such a big, huge thing, you can just sort of get away with just cleaning it up a little bit, especially if you're just doing a little home project

It's not something you have to go into super detail on Getting a nice smooth surface for the paint, and the thing with primer is it's– – [Ollie] Soft, isn't it? – [Rob] It is, it is quite soft, but I mean, you can see already the difference you've got on the smoothness there to there I mean, you can't really see it, but you feel it to the touch – [Ollie] Yeah, yeah, you can feel it – [Rob] If you're doing a big project, like you're doing a whole bike, you want a dust mask for this, 'cause it's not nice stuff to be breathing in

– If you didn't sand the primer down, what would be the effect on the finish? – A lot of the time, especially with a finish like this, you'll be able to see, you'll get an orange-peely sort of effect on the primer, 'cause it comes out quite thick from the spray gun That's– – Like a little bit mottled – Yeah, yeah, I mean, even if you've been doing it for years, 'cause primer's quite thick You always wanna make it, sand it to get it nice, totally smooth But you're also, you're keying it up and you're enabling the paint to get a sort of chemical bond and a mechanical bond to the primer, which if you just painted the paint straight on top of the primer without sanding it, it's like you're letting the next coat that goes on top just sort of absorb into it a little better and that will make it bond much better than if you just paint the primer, the base coat straight on top of the primer

Most of the time if you're doing a big bike frame, I'll mix up a big cup of a specific color that I'm using Because this is just a stem, it's only a small part, I use one of these pots which are, it's just the exact same paint, but these are all I use for airbrushing It's just the paint that I mix up out of a tin, but instead, it's all got thinners already mixed into it, so I can just put it in the gun It's good to go, just saves a bit of time and saves waste As you can see, nothing fancy, just straight black

(gentle electronic music) – Stem's been baked now, so let's get it out – Let's get it (mid-tempo hiphop music) There you go, looks exactly the same as before (Ollie laughs) It's just dry now So now we're ready to put the Chromacoat on it, which will give it that funky color-changing effect

(mid-tempo hiphop music) So that's had the coat of Chromacoat on, so you can see now it's got the basic color flip effect It still looks a bit muted at the moment, 'cause it hasn't got any lacquer, but we're gonna put this in the oven again for a bit, and then after that we'll be ready to do the star effect speckle kind of thing – I have to ask, Rob, what are the most exotic color finishes that you do on bikes and components? – Well, you've got, I mean, you can do real complex stuff like this which is really exotic, but that's just labor-intensive with lots of masking, lots of shapes and things on there, lots of colors So that's one end of it, or you can go with stuff like candy finishes are always popular They look really simple, but they're a lot more involved than they look

Basically it's a clear tinted lacquer which goes over a highly reflective silver base coat, just gives it that sort of depth so it looks like you can reach in and grab it And then you've got other things like fades, which are always popular Matte finishes are always nice, and then you've got something like this, which is way at the other end, which is a totally hand-painted brushed effect to give it a kind of marbly kind of effect – That looks like an impressionist painting – Ha ha, something like that

– Looks awesome – This also has graphics which is done in a variegated bronze leaf It is horrendously fiddly – [Ollie] How do you do it? Do you have to cut it out with a knife? – No, no, no, well, it's a similar way to the way you do normal paint stencils and graphics It's just you have to, you basically put down a glue

It's called size, which is a super old-fashioned glue that you brush through a stencil and then apply this over the top And I've actually got this on a bike that this was the sample for outside, if you want to go and have a look – All right, let's go have a look (upbeat pop music) – So yeah, this is Genesis Volare 931 Disc I did it for Bespoked last year as a collaboration with Genesis, and this has got all that bronze leaf which I just showed you used as graphics and that's what it looks like on a bike

– That is absolutely stunning, isn't it? (upbeat electronic music) Do you reckon the Chromacoat's done now? – Yeah, it should be Let's go and check it out – Let's get it out, then – Definitely Let's have a look

That's nice and dry, ready for the next stage, which is gonna be the little starry speckle effect – That looks wicked, it does look really good – So yeah, that's still just base coat, so you have to have a coat of lacquer on, so it'll pop a lot more once the lacquer goes on, but that's the basic effect So next stage is to put the first coat of lacquer on and that's not nice stuff It's a two-pack product

It's what protects this paint 'cause this paint is really fragile and if you scratch it with your fingernail, it'll come off really easy The lacquer is what protects the colors, and it's, yeah, two-pack product, which means you mix a hardener into it, and it contains horrible isocyanates which are very toxic, so I'm gonna put on my special air-fed respirator equipment and get that done – All right, I'll go and hide over there, then – You can stand over there

– You can go and put your hazmat suit on (Rob laughs) (upbeat electronic music) – So there's the first coat of lacquer on there, as it's nice and glossy now, nice and shiny That's the first– – Really making it– – Protective coat – Makes it pop, really – It does, that's the whole thing with lacquer

It just makes everything more vibrant, and you can really see there, it really catches the light now when you move it around So normally I'd leave that 'til tomorrow to do the next stage, but we're gonna pop it in the oven, speed things up a bit, and that'll be ready for doing the graphics in a bit – While the first coat of lacquer's curing in the oven, we now get on to the bit that is the cherry on top of the cake, the graphics So how do we go about getting the graphics on the stem? – You guys sent me over a graphics file, which I'll show you in a minute, which we cut out of this stuff, which is called a stencil mask It's similar to the sort of vinyl you make stickers out of except it's got real low tack on it so it doesn't stick permanently and it's kinda see-through, so it's easier to see what you're doing underneath

I've then adjusted this slightly to the sizes we need it to be to fit on the stem, lined up a few of them because inevitably, one of them won't cut right or you'll apply it wrong, so it's always best to have a spare So then they're set up ready to go, so I now transfer them into the Roland software, which controls this guy So this guy, basically, it's got a blade in there, which is CNC-controlled, and it's exactly the same as you would do, say, if you were cutting 'em out with a scalpel, but it's got a computer telling it what to do So these are our graphics that we cut, so now I'm just gonna start weeding them out (gentle electronic music) So I've just given the stem a quick sand with some P800 just to flatten it off a little bit and give the next layer of silver paint something, a little bit of a key to stick to

And it also makes it nice and flat before we do the final coat of lacquer And now it's ready to apply the stencils and then airbrush on the graphics Take this, and using the black line we put on earlier, we get it in a nice central spot It's just like applying a die-cut sticker, really, no different (upbeat electronic music) – [Ollie] That looks bloody amazing

– Yeah, it's cool, isn't it, the, yeah, it really, really pops once the lacquer's on there Pretty much cured The paint won't be fully, fully cured for another couple of days, at least, but it's fine to handle now There's one custom-painted GCN galaxy stem, all yours – Wow, that is, no, it is beautiful, it is awesome

– [Rob] It looks different, as well, when you go out in the sunlight It'll change the way it looks, it'll change, well, depending what light it's under, it'll look– – How cool is that? Right, so I have to ask you some questions I know that people watching this will want to know So how long's it take, typically, if someone gets a custom bike painted? How long's that process take? – Well, I mean, it's very much a how long's a piece of string question You know, it can be anywhere from, I always try and get everything turned around within two weeks of when I start on it, but if it's a really complex job, that could go up to three weeks, sometimes a month

Obviously that's not solid working on one frame You know, you're working on several bikes at the same time because of the way the paint process works You need to leave things for a few days at a time here and there, but most projects I get turned around within two weeks of starting on 'em – A big question, I think a lot of people will be watching and thinking, custom paint, oh, man, that's so cool, but surely it's really, really expensive So I mean, how much does it cost to get a bike frame custom-painted? – It can be as expensive as you want it to be

It's similar to the time involved You know, if you want something really crazy that's really involved with lots of colors, it's gonna be expensive If you want something quite simple in one or two colors, it can be, you know, gets down around the 500 pound mark I don't really do anything less than 500 pounds because the time involved, it's just not worth the money – So you've got those really, like, probably the most simple paint job we've seen here are the powder-coated steel frames for Red Hook

– Yeah – Now that's really simple, so how– – Yeah, they're actually, they're gonna have graphics painted on top of the powder coat and then have a clear coat put over them, but you can have a powder-coated frame with a fancy painted fork for around about the two, 300 pound mark – Wow, that sounds like absolute– – So yeah, it's more on the simple side It's really hard wearing, as well, powder coat, so it's good, but you can also have cool graphics painted over the top of it – So if we say that's like the bottom end, and the top end would be something like the Volare with– – So yeah, I mean, you'd be going up to somewhere around the 15, 1600 pound mark, something like that, with gold leaf graphics and all that stuff and hand-painted effects

There's over a solid 40 hours, 50 hours work in that, so– – It does look absolutely stunning, though – Yeah, so I mean, it's worth it in the end, but it's not to everyone's tastes, so you know, if you wanna spend that much, we can– – That's the beauty of custom painting You can have whatever you want, so you can find something that is to your taste, that's– – Yeah, totally – Completely unique to you, which is awesome, but how much would it cost to just like have a stem dome, as well? I mean, that's surely a– – [Rob] Well, I mean, I do batches of stems very similar to this in galaxy paint, which I sell for around about the 150 pound mark, but they are all done in batches to specific brands But if you wanted a one-off custom one with your own logos and stuff on, you'd be looking around probably about 175, 200 pounds, including the cost of the stem, depending

Obviously, if it's a very expensive carbon stem, it's gonna pull the price up – [Ollie] Yeah, there's just so many hours that goes into– – Yeah, you'd be surprised – Doing all that – There's a lot more work involved than you might think It's not just like painting it one color and putting a sticker on

– Well, thanks very much, Rob – No problem – Thanks for the stem, and really appreciate you taking the time to show us how you work and your skill and everything It's been brilliant – No problem, it's my pleasure, thanks for stopping in

It's been good fun showing someone how it's all done – Thanks, man, well, I hope you found this video enjoyable and interesting, and if you have, then please give it a thumbs up and click subscribe to the channel down here And if you'd like to watch another video, then I recommend one on how carbon fiber bikes can be repaired To watch that, well, click on the stem (laughs)

Source: Youtube

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