We know you love your bike, but sometimes it’s those little details that really make it your own. Whether you’ve got a brand new bike and want to colour-match the components, or fancy giving a beloved old favourite a new lease of life, we’ve got some handy hints, tips and ideas.
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There are plenty of things you can do, from a brand new paint job to something a little less permanent like new grips or bar tape. There are also many options whatever your creative skill level; hand painted frame, anyone? But here are 10 great ideas to get you started…
1. Colourful components
Whether you like your bike to be super-coordinated, or prefer a little colour clash, a great way to achieve this is with colourful components like cranks, pedals, stems and so on. British brand Hope Tech produces a huge range of kit in a range of colours including green, blue and purple, but they aren’t the only ones out there making those crucial bits of metal in bright hues.
2. Custom coloured decals
Want to take the coordination even further? InvisiFrame, who produces protective clear vinyl stickers for bike frames, also produces brand decals for frames, forks and wheels in a selection of different colours. So if you upgrade your Rockshox forks and the decals don’t match — no problem!
3. Design your own vinyl decals
If you’re feeling super creative, why not design your own custom printed vinyl decals? Many companies around the world offer custom options, so you can design your own patterns, shapes, styles and colours, then have them printed out, stick ’em (carefully) on your bike and hey presto! You’ll have a bike like nobody else.
4. Get funky with spray paint
Bored with the colour of your bike frame? Change it! You’ll need to prepare the frame first, either by stripping off the original paint or by cleaning and sanding the paint that’s there. Remove all the components before you break out the spray can and use masking tape to cover areas you don’t want paint-speckled.
Apart from the obvious monochrome options, there’s a lot of scope for simple-to-execute creativity here. Try a two colour ombre fade or get decorative using masking tape to make a pattern and then spray over the top in a second colour.
There’s even spray paint developed specifically for bikes. UK company Spray.Bike has aerosol paint sprays in different colours and finishes, and the range even includes a transparent finish and putty for filling in dents and scratches.
WARNING! We don’t recommend you start playing around with the paintwork on carbon bikes — this is probably best left for the professionals.
Our article on how to refurbish a bike frame has lots of helpful details and how-to tips in it, and there are also lots of professional painters around who can do the job for you if you want a perfect finish.
5. Slap on some stickers
This is one of the easiest ways to brighten up your bike, requiring minimal skill, time, cost and effort. However, it might be better for kids’ bikes or your pub or commuter bike, rather than your top-of-the-range road machine — though of course it’s up to you! Accessories and novelties company NPW produces lots of different bike sticker packs, with everything from flowers to chevrons to motivational messages.
6. Multi coloured spokes
Bored of black or silver? Opt for multicoloured spokes! Available in titanium for mountain bikes and BMXs, these add a subtle flash of colour and look particularly good on stealth black bikes.
7. Fun stem caps
Chances are, you’re going to spend a fair amount of time looking at your stem, particularly when climbing. Give yourself a nice view with an unusually patterned stem cap. Some come with pictures like sugar skulls or mountains, others with words of encouragement or useful slogans. You can even get one with a clock fitted into it.
8. Bright bar tape, grips and hoods
You don’t need to stick to plain old black on your handlebars, though it is a very practical colour. It’s now possible to get virtually any colour out there in grips, bar tape and even hood covers. We’re also partial to a bit of patterned bar tape, or if you like your colour a little more subtle how about plain black or white bar tape with a contrasting colour peeking through?
9. Bar tape wrap patterns
Don’t just stop at colourful bar tape; there are lots of great ways you can wrap it too for a more distinctive look. We’ve spotted half-and-half, with one side one colour and the other — you guessed it — a second colour. You can also attempt the beautiful but fiddly harlequin wrap, which results in a diamond pattern on the bars. There’s an eye-catching example in the image below from Scott Grinsell on Pinterest, and the brilliantly named Smut Pedaller blog has a guide on how to do it yourself.
10. Freestyle with paint pens and brushes
If you want to get really creative, and have the skills to match your vision, how about decorating your bike freehand by painting directly onto the frame? We recommend sketching out the design ahead of time, then lightly tracing it onto the frame once you’ve prepared it for painting so you keep to the pattern. Fine paint brushes or paint pens work best and you’ll need to add a top coat of lacquer to keep the design intact.