Bike Art by KirkLee

Posted on 28. Feb, 2009 by NAHBS in 2009 News

Most of the bikes at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show are works of art, but KirkLee Bicycles’ latest creation was inspired by artwork.

When Florida veterinarian and triathlete Rachel Gross contacted the custom bike builder to create for her a new road bike, she decided to take the opportunity to pay tribute to her mother, an artist suffering from Alzheimer’s. When it came time to paint the bike, Gross asked the company to recreate one of her mother’s abstract paintings.

Building the custom carbon-fiber frame took KirkLee co-owner Brad Cason about 60 hours, but painting it was an even more time consuming. To mimic the look of the inspiration artwork, a canvas texture was painted onto the joints, followed by several layers inspired by the original art. All of the paint was applied by hand with a brush.

“When you spray paint on, you can’t get the same texture as you would a painting,” Cason said. “We wanted the texture, chunkiness of the painting to translate to the bike. We used a softer brush to create the brushstrokes, then knocked the top edges off and finished it off with a clear coat.”

In all, it took 200 hours to recreate the inspirational artwork, compared to the typical 8-10 hours.

Cason admitted he was a bit jealous when the paint job began stealing some of the thunder from the bike, but said both he and his client are thrilled with the way the bike turned out.

When it was time to deliver the bike, I told her, “The good news is your bike came out beautiful. The bad news is you’re going to want to keep your old bike,” Cason said.

Cason was reluctant to say how much Gross paid for the bike, but estimated a similar bike would cost a new client in excess of $10,000.

Robert Annis

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