PROJECT: Bespoked Experimental Silver Leaf Rub-through
BUILDER: Quirk Cycles
FINISH:  Where to start on this one?!

First things first, pop over to Rob’s website to read about why this frameset is so special… [HERE]

We’re here to talk about the finish so for a little clarity, this is what you’re looking at…

This project was commissioned by our good friend Rob Quirk. He told us he was planning on taking a new, innovative frameset along to the Bespoked show in Bristol and asked if we could create something unique. The brief was simple: “Do what you want”. Naturally we were happy to oblige.

This finish takes the form of the type of design we undertake on our limited ‘HOUSE SPECIAL’ projects. These finishes see us take a fixed sum (£800 for steel/alu/Ti and £1,000 for carbon) and a colour or theme suggestion from the customer and they entrust us with carte blanche. We take these projects as an opportunity to share some of the wilder, more experimental ideas we have… sometimes they involve new techniques, sometimes they include premium products or tooling, often they involve both. Having worked with us consistently for a number of yers, Rob was happy for us to be let loose on the frameset, the only proviso being that we used colours he was planning to introduce on his new line of designs. Simple.

That’s where the simplicity ends. We had in mind a particular masking technique that we’ve been working on in between our daily workload. Our aim has been to create free-flowing, organic, hand-style brush-strokes for a finish. this might seem easy but sadly, that’s not the case. These brush effects are requested frequently but we are always faced with the same hurdles… automotive products applied with a brush don’t cure the way they are supposed to (so the finish is sub-optimally strong throughout) and the product builds higher than intended (so they appear textured to the eye and are discernible to the touch).

We developed a method which is a variation on ‘liquid resist’ masking with various different mis-matched and intuitive products - some of which are normally considered “food”. Effectively, our brush strokes are created through removal of colour rather than its application. Layers of colour are stacked and built on top of one another and then removed through chemical processes and abrasives in order that we can wash out and soften the edges of the colours and shapes to give the impression that the impactful colour swashes are being revealed beneath the previous finish rather than having been applied over the finish.

As if this weren’t already a little over the top, we chose to introduce sterling silver leaf. As fragile as it is costly, we have dappled it throughout the colours like veins or river deltas, further adding to the organic feel of the effect.

The colour palette for the bike is quite vast compared to a regular two or three colour project. There are three greens; one nearly white; one flat vibrant leaf green and a third metallic “British Racing Green”. There are then a further four hues; a metallic black, a dark metallic grey, a dark flat grey and then of course the silver of the leaf. Through the repeated layering and destruction of these layers, we’re able to introduce even further blends and combinations making dozens of variations.

We’re keen to avoid reliance on the ‘novelty’ of an effect and aim not to ‘overdo it’ by placing it everywhere so we focused on the front-end of the bike for this new detail. This offers the impression of forward motion in the bike whilst also not busying the areas of the frame which deserve attention in their own right because of the 3D-printed nature of the components.

You might struggle to make it out from the photography but if you look closely you’ll see that there is a hard line divide between the front and rear portions of the scheme. Again, aiming to separate the action of the finish from the the engineering flourishes in the seat tube and dropouts but also serving to add a contrasting sharp, crisp edged line to complement the more free-flowing colour effect.

Additionally subtle is the mottled texture effect in the metallic grey on the rear of the bike. We’re not giving away how this was done!

Wether a show bike or not, the quality of our finishes is always consistent but with this particular effort, we incorporated the stem, faceplate, bars, top cap and seat post in order to marry the whole thing together as a single piece. Rob’s stand had only one bike on it at the show so we wanted to pull out all the stops.

Amidst the process, the finish had what we call a “flow coat” of clear in order that we could seal the textured elements and then add the final touches of branding with an airbrush then give a final clearcoat and polish. If you get the chance to see this bike in real life in any of the places it will be displayed, please do. It shows different subtleties every time you view it. Also… if you can… touch it… run your fingertips over the multi-layered weave of brush-effect greens and greys and silver. You won’t be able to find any difference in the feel of the colours and instead you’ll feel a silky smooth uniform finish.

We’re really proud of what we were able to achieve with this experimental, if potentially divisive effect. Now that we’ve perfected it, we’re happy to offer it in a variety of colours so if it’s something you might be interested in, get in touch via our contact page.

[Images by Nikoo Hamzavi]