"Customers have been coming to the workshop and asking me to put my own take on their frame. It’s feels like a huge compliment."
In the land of endless black, white and red frames, Dan Cole adds a flair of innovation, eccentricity and style.
Off the peg bikes are bland. Turn up to your local road race, crit or sportive and inspiration in aesthetics is clearly an afterthought. Considering the amount of money a new bike can cost, considering the time taken to carefully choose size and components, right down to tyre width or gear ratio, the appearance of the bike is often taken in a bizarre Fordian, any-colour-you-want-as-long-as-it's-black, acceptance.
And plain garishness isn’t the answer. The answer is carefully designed artistry in collaboration with what a customer wants, and what a painter can deliver.
In a quiet corner of Peckham, South East London, sharing a workshop space with Seabass Cycles, Dan Cole can turn a bland frame in to a work of art.
“Recently customers have been coming to the workshop and asking me to put my own take on their frame. It’s feels like a huge compliment.
“I’m not interested in standard stuff. I used to restore classic cars, but there’s a cap to that, with bike frames it’s so intricate and complex that the cap is much higher if there at all.
"People are realising a lot of bikes look the same and for a relatively small amount you can make your bike unique.”
“I love multi-layer patterns, paint then vinyl, paint then vinyl, paint then vinyl, the more technical, the more I like it. As long as time’s on your side."
“Inspiration comes from so many places. Other frame painters, artists, the more I share the more my inspiration grows. I have techniques that work well for me, and seeing other people’s specialist techniques allows me to grow and unlock potential.”
Cole Coatings recently announced they are taking no new projects ahead of an expansion.
“The cycling community has opened up and I’ve found it to be really receptive to creativity. Cole Coatings is expanding this summer, building a proper spray booth, making work quicker and more efficient.
“Demand for painting bicycles is massive. People are realising a lot of bikes look the same and for a reasonable amount you can make your bike unique.”
Cole Coatings recently finished a project for Svelte; a retro LeMond Limoges, a mix of an aluminium frame, carbon seat stays and fork. Subtlety with typical Svelte style was the direction. Dan finished the frame in gloss black accented with chameleon flip paint details.
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Words and images by Henry Nixon.