Friday, 30 August 2013

The Colour is Crucial

I’ve always loved bikes and cycling. When I was just a young lad we never had a family car so the bicycle was our only form of independent transport. My Dad would pedal to work on his bright orange Claud Butler road bike and I would set off for school on my shiny new pale blue Kalkhoff racer (with cotter-less cranks).  I had huge saddle bags loaded with packed lunch, P.E. kit, school books etc.

At the weekends my Dad and I would go out on our bikes together. The route would normally follow canal towpaths through the industrial Black Country and we would invariably stop for refreshments at a Banks’s pub (I’d have Vimto and a bag of plane crisps whilst my Dad would have a pint of mild and a bag of scratchings). Magical memories lodged in my brain and probably the foundation for my passion for bicycles.

It was in 2010 when I first saw Rob Penn’s BBC4 documentary “Ride of My Life: The Story of the Bicycle”. I immediately bought Rob’s book “It's All About the Bike” and read it twice (The story of his love affair with cycling and the journey to build his dream bike; a freewheeling pilgrimage taking him from Californian mountain bike inventors to British artisan frame builders – Brian Rourke). In 2011 I went to meet Rob and see his bike at whilst he was giving a talk at Hereford Leisure Centre.
Since then I set myself a goal to have a custom made Rourke dream bike of my own.

So, over two years have passed and still no dream bike as of yet for me. Why not?

Well, although custom built bikes don’t come cheap, the financial aspect of the acquisition hasn’t been the main blocker(I've been saving).  Nor is it selection of components (group set etc.- I already have them).

Unbelievably, the main reason for the delay has been my indecisive pondering over a suitable colour scheme for the frame.  Initially, there was no doubt in my mind – I would simply go for my favourite colour. However, after looking at hundreds of pictures of different colour bikes I became confused and it dawned on me that I had more than one favourite colour.  Some bikes even look good in colours that I don’t like e.g. Pale Green or brown.

A custom built bike is a very special thing and it would be a poor show if after going through the 8 month process of planning (or in my case 3 years) the end result doesn’t produce a thing of beauty. I want the bike to be eye catching with a subtle amount of bling but not so much that it’s overly gaudy.

It's not only one colour to consider. The lower part of the seat tube and down tube can be different to the cross bar. Then there's the bands on the main tubes - how many and what colour? Not forgetting the font style and colour of the famous Rourke decals.

To confuse the issue even more there are now an abundant array of various coloured anodised components (hubs, head sets, bottom brackets…) available of which I am a great fan. Going down the road of fitting extravagantly coloured component’s makes choosing frame colour scheme the more difficult.

I don't want to end up riding a rainbow that will initiate migraines at 10 yards.  


For the last 12 months, I have bubble sorted may way through a collection of about 50 photos of bikes that of which I like the colour in attempt to make a decision. This process has been fruitless. It’s been a different result every time.


As I mentioned earlier, my first proper road bike was a pale blue Kalkhoff. My Dad bought it because it was the best in the shop with the best components but, to be honest, I was never fan of the colour (I never told my Dad).
After a couple of years of commuting to school every day, the bike started to look tatty so my Dad and I agreed that we strip down and repaint the frame.  I repainted by hand with a brush, applying multiple coats and finely rubbing down in-between to guarantee the perfect finish.

The end result was superb and more importantly in a colour that I loved. The fond memories of repainting and rebuilding are what have finally helped me to decide on a colour for my dream Rourke custom bike.  Nostalgia has finally helped me make a decision.

So, after almost 3 years of pondering, I finally have an appointment for a fitting at Rourke’s next week and I’ll be going armed with a chosen colour scheme for my new frame – unless I change my mind in the next 7 days!

BTW, I have applied to the ‘International Committee of Favourite Colours’ to officially have my favourite colour changed.


  1. Great post, and i understand your pain over colour choice.

    The only other decision that i've thought so long and hard about is what to call me two children.

    Enjoy next week Mr S, it will all be worth the wait, i can guatantee it!

  2. Oh how I understand! In my case I could not afford a 3 year pondering time as I would never be in a fit state to ride if I left it that long. But I agonized as much as you..just on Fast Forward :-)

  3. I have colour issues. I once bought a great blue shirt, only to be told later it was green. I have a black jacket that my wife tells me is actually blue. With this in mind all of the bikes in my fantasy world are white


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