As a longtime titanium bike owner, I’ve always been jealous of a beautiful painted frame but Ti and carbon frames don’t need paint like a steel frame needs paint. But I want some painted beauty. It’s like buying a white car; I can’t do white, need some color. So between a Ti frame and a carbon fork…I got nothing.
Well, a little knowledge is dangerous and throw in a compressor and an automotive spray gun and the potential for mayhem goes up. You want to paint your fork celeste green? Good luck with that as you go into your local auto refinishing paint store and try to describe Bianchi’s celeste green or De Rosa pink – blank stares. They will hand you huge stacks of paint samples all related to cars. Celeste green is a big problem, the nearly celeste green of a 1981 Fiat, no problem.
I found a used, top-end Trek Madone frame on eBay a few years ago, to bring my wife out of the Ti age and into the Carbon age. It was a project one frame, meaning it had been custom painted at the Trek factory. When we had the frame in-hand someone pointed out it was Subaru Forester green. Yep, that is correct. Who wants a bike painted Subaru Forester green? I was not ready to take on that repaint so I had it done somewhat professionally, at the local surfboard fabrication and repair spot. Years later the front fork needed to be repainted and I knew I could handle it. I practiced on an old alpha-q carbon fork and decided the Merlin’s fork was going to get it too.
Who wouldn’t want to match the stem to the fork? There are no Rules about this, but visually I think it works. Stems like paint. If I was going to paint forks I was absolutely going to paint some stems too. I think the secret to this might be the clear coat that goes on after the color coat. It is a catalyzed product, tough and flexible. It’s why your car still looks good after a few years on the road.
You can do all this with a rattle-can of color paint from the hardware store but you can’t spray a catalyzed clear coat on top so it might not hold up well. And this spraying is nasty but fun when it’s done, if it goes well.