In 2009, Noah Rosen and his Toronto-based paintshop of VéloColour won the NAHBS award for Best Painter for his work on a 1951 Cinelli. His work and skill has steadily increased since then, resulting in some of the most spectacularly finished frames.
Noah and his partner, designer and craftswoman Suzanne Carlsen, have recently added a range of laser-cut head badges, finely crafted musettes, and tool rolls to their webstore, alongside their award-winning paint and restoration work.
This frame by Montana’s David Kirk has been painted with what must be the most striking — and sublime — design and colour you’ll come across. It was inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and artist Piet Mondrian, whose neoplasticism is now synonymous with professional road cycling, thanks to the kit of Bernard Hinault’s La Vie Claire team.
Custom paint work is the ultimate finishing touch for a frame, whether it was made by hand or not, and will truly personalise your favourite ride. Noah generously took some time to share an insight into VéloColour and their work with us.
What we do:
VéloColour is a custom paint and restoration shop in Toronto that opened in 2008. We are best known for the restoration and custom work we do on vintage steel bikes and often have a shop full of Colnagos, Cinellis, Legnanos and Rene Herses.
We also do plenty of modern carbon, stainless, titanium and aluminum bikes with more modern style paint work. We receive work from around North America and occasionally Europe, South America and Asia as well.
Noah Rosen has been running VéloColour and painting since the doors opened. During the past year, Suzanne Carlsen has come on board to help with the design and day-to-day operations of VéloColour. Suzanne is a trained designer, jeweller and textile artist and has been involved behind the scenes since the beginning.
It is with her official addition to VéloColour that we have also introduced a line of cycling products that currently include tool rolls, musettes, head badges (both standard and fully custom designs) and chain guards.
This is a growing part of our focus and we are passionate about all of the things we do. In the new year we will be adding more soft goods to our product line, like medium sized and mini saddle bags, track racing parts bags and race day bags, to name a few.
How we do it:
Each paint job starts from scratch. All pre-painted metal frames go into an acid bath to remove the existing finish. They are well cleaned then inspected for large defects like cracks or spots where there may be potential structural failure.
In some cases we adjust the braze-ons, add bottle bosses or replace rusted out frame parts. Then they are media blasted before getting a primer coat. Carbon frames are carefully hand-sanded to a smooth finish and masked to prevent over spray in the head. We do plenty of sanding and clean-up before adding colour.
We apply two-to-three colour coats and mask and layer colour coats depending on the specifics of the paint job. Every frame gets, at minimum, one clear coat, before being dry sanded smooth, wet sanded and then two final clear coats.
We use top-quality decals for our restorations (in the case of the candy Red Colnago) which get three clear coats before being sanded smooth and clear coated in the final part of the process. We spend a lot of time doing graphic work and draw and cut stencils for graphics, striping, and logos on modern frames.
Many of the paint schemes we do are executed completely in paint (like the Dave Kirk — Mondrian/Frank Lloyd Wright). Many of our customers rely on us to help with the fine tuning of the paint schemes, or come up with completely new paint designs for them.
The VéloColour workshop:
We took over a 3000sqft auto body shop in Toronto about two years ago. It had an existing automotive sized paint booth which was our main reason for taking it. We’ve since built a number of production spaces within the shop; a ventilated sanding room, a sandblasting room, a clean working space and a paint mixing room — essentially everything you need for the paint work.
On top of that we have a sewing production area, a metal shop, a photo booth and a store/showroom area which is slowly expanding to fit the new products that we produce or that which we sell from other producers. It’s a lot but we have big ideas with plenty of room for expansion.
The history of VéloColour:
Noah started out painting for local frame builder and bicycle historian Mike Barry of Mariposa Bicycles. He worked there for two years until Mike retired at the end of 2007. Noah started VéloColour that January of 2008.
Over the years he has grown a loyal and international following with help from a Best Paint Award at NAHBS in 2009 which put his business on the map.
The new products:
We are really excited about this new line of cycling products. We have been offering custom head badges to VéloColour customers for quite some time. This part of the business has been really busy. Now we also have our growing line of badges for purchase and we also design and produce badges for other brands and bike shops.
The soft goods are a result of being unhappy with many of the options available in stores today. Clearly we are aesthetically driven and after spending so much time adding custom paint to bikes we are pretty selective about what goes on them.
These are bags and products that are well thought out and made by cyclists for cyclists. We go through loads of samples tweaking little things along the way to make sure each product really is the best it can be.
It’s little things like the tapered flap and extra strap so it doesn’t unroll while attaching it that makes our tool roll work really well, and sets them apart.
As makers/designers, we are big supporters of locally made products. We are building a bicycle brand based completely on Canadian-made products and are growing our in-house production capabilities along the way.
Our chain guards, and laser cut head badges for larger orders, are all produced within a half-hour bike ride of our shop. Producing in North America costs more but it’s the only way we want to do it, and means we have complete control over everything we produce.
The VéloColour website has many awe-inspiring examples of their restoration and custom paint paint work. If you’ve got a beloved frame that you’ve been thinking about restoring, or have an idea for a personal paint job, get in touch with Noah and Suzanne.