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)

Dereck Turner

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