When shopping for a new bike, regardless of the material or brand, one of the first things that can catch a prospective buyer's eye is a tasteful paint job. This could be the colour scheme itself, the finish/unique effects, or the design detail. Sometimes people are attracted to appearance more than the actual bike build. When shopping for a titanium bike, many brands offer the classic, loved, monotone look showcasing raw titanium’s timeless beauty, commonly paired with black carbon forks. Furthermore, frame makers will offer their frame with three popular finishes.
>> Brushed - A shiny silver finish with a visible grain running around a tube.
>> Bead-blasted / Sand-blasted - A satin/matte finish that is grey in colour.
>> Polished - A super shiny mirror finish. It can look like chrome plate if done well.
We use a combination of brushed and bead-blasted finish with black transfer logos to match our black matte forks as our default offering on Curve frames (as can be seen above on our Belgie V3). However, the options are infinite if you decide to veer and add some personality to your bike. Titanium can be challenging to paint. It requires additional layers of adhesion promoters and special primers before applying layers of colour and clear coat. If it’s not done correctly, the quality of finish and the durability to withstand the rigours of general riding can falter pretty quickly. In addition, visible chipping and flaking are typical on poorly prepared titanium frames.
Is your bike a tool or a jewel?
How you use your bike can be a significant deciding factor to whether or not you should paint it. Generally speaking, the more road-focused your bike is, the less likely it is that you'll be strapping bags, and spare gear to it. Reason being, bags have contact points on your bike that cause wear and tear with use. Every bump, and jiggle results in abrasive action on these contact points. This will quickly damage a painted surface over time if not protected carefully. This abrasion is still evident on a raw titanium frame, but less obvious and easier to maintain. As a general rule, I'd avoid painting a bike that's well strapped and loaded up. If you want to add a small amount of colour, then make it minimal such as painting the fork. It’s best to avoid spending excess money on cosmetic layers that are bound to cop the brunt of real life riding adventures.
Your bike is a tool:
- You regularly strap bags to help extend your riding range. Or bags are permanently strapped to your bike like many of the Curve crew.
- You ride in all conditions, and in all kinds of weather. By default, gravel and off-road bikes might automatically be categorised as a tool, but that's not to say you can't make jewels of them.
Your bike is a jewel:
- It's so precious that you are hesitant to ride in inclement weather, dust, dirt or unknown terrain.
- Patina is not your thing and box-fresh is.
- You've chosen a bike as a status symbol, fashion accessory or coffee stop conversation starter.
Is budget a consideration?
Professional custom paint jobs can cost a lot of money. It's a luxury service that requires skill, patience, special equipment, and a controlled environment. The difference between 'needs' and 'wants' becomes obvious here as no one needs a personalised paint job, but many of us want it. The cost of this additional service can vary from AUD $200 - $600 for a fork alone. Then AUD $1200 - $3000+ for the frame and fork. Additional parts can be integrated into the paint design, such as your stem, seat post, and handlebars. This would be recommended for a jewel bike only. Painting a stem/post or similar parts are also 'high risk' traffic areas and are more susceptible to general wear and tear. If the additional budget is not immediately available, please keep in mind that if you have decided to invest in a titanium or steel frame, you will be investing in a frame that will last for decades rather than years. The fantastic thing is that while many people riding carbon frames might be shopping for new bikes, you get the opportunity to reinvent your bike every couple of years. You can change out a groupset, or a bi-yearly strip and rebuild. You can plan a paint job during this time to get that new bike feeling again and again.
So, you’ve decided to paint.
Either a colour theme or a pattern can help personalise a paint scheme to your new bike. Colour combo inspiration can come from anywhere. A favourite item of clothing, a prized timepiece, a car, sports team, or company logo. Anything of importance to your life can help guide you. Same with patterns. A favourite geometric pattern, a pattern in nature, or contour lines. Keep in mind that depending on complexity, the number of different colours and actual colour choice itself, each job is unique and is quoted accordingly. For example, special effect paints, different finishes such as matt/gloss combos, fades, time consuming patterns, pinstripes etc. Additional things to note when applying additional paint are the extra weight you are adding to your bike. It may come as a surprise as to how much weight it can add. For a reference, a standard 2/3rd frame and fork paint scheme can add 100 - 200+ grams depending on the number of colours, clear coats, and detail. Weight of course is not a problem for all of us.
Where are custom paint services offered?
Orders placed in Australia have the option to send their new bike to our friends at VeloCraft. Steve and the team here are very knowledgeable and have loads of experience painting titanium.
Orders placed via our friends at G!RO Cycles in the UK are recommended to use the services of the talented team at Gun Control Custom Paint.
Orders placed elsewhere can still access these services; just expect to pay some additional shipping fees. You can of course source your own painter too.
What about anodising?
Another eye-catching finish commonly seen on high-end titanium frames is anodising like on Rhino's old colourway for Kevin below. This is an electrolytic finishing process that can achieve outstanding results. The trouble with this is that it is expensive to apply, and it wears out fast. You can apply a thin protective film over high wear areas to help protect it, but expect it to slowly wear off over time over time. I’d suggest pursuing this finish on jewels only.
Hopefully, this offers some insight into what to think about and expect with personalised finishes. Exploring this service can be a lot of fun and help you obtain a true one-of-a-kind personal ride that you can be proud of for many years to come. It can truly become a cherry on top to help signify a birthday milestone or life achievement.