Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Painting the Sam Hillborne: Color Suggestions?

The topic of bicycle color has definitely come up here prior to today, but I am currently debating colors to paint the Sam Hillborne, so it has become more personal at the moment. When I bought the frame, I was having trouble finding one in a small enough size to fit me, and the one partner of Rivendell who had the appropriate sized frame had already built it up as a bike.  The owner of the shop indicated that it would probably save me money to just purchase the whole bike from him, but I can be stubborn and had dreams of picking everything out for myself, so I declined his offer. He warned that the frame would likely have paint chips around eyelets and such due to removal of racks, etc. I assured him that it wasn't an issue, and regardless of whether I had purchased the bike whole or not, it would have needed to be disassembled for shipment, so I can't very well blame my stubbornness for the paint chipping off the bike.
There is a very small chip in the paint on the seat tube in this picture, however,
most of the major ones seem to be on the alternate side of the Hillborne.
When the frame arrived, there were indeed many paint chips on eyelets from removal of the prior parts, however, I knew that they would be covered for the most part by items I would be attaching. I had actually inquired about touch up paint from Riv, but that was not a possibility. Unfortunately, the paint on the rest of the frame soon began flaking off on its own (I don't know if this was merely a fluke with this bike's paint - others have said they've had no problems with theirs, and I've had no issues with the Betty thus far). For the first several months of ownership I didn't let anyone near this bike, I babied it as though it were a - well, baby - and never did anything harsh or abusive to the frame (not that I abuse it now, but I'm less fanatical around the bike as I realize it is still just a bike - regardless of what I may want to believe - you know, that it has mystical powers, makes me look better, etc).  At this point, there are several places that the paint has come off that are visible on the frame (some of them quite large), and since it is steel, I don't want it to get to the point that it begins to rust. Not to mention, I was never particularly in love with the color of this bike, so it seems a good time to start thinking about color change. In some ways I am happy that it needs paint because I can justify changing the color sooner than seems reasonable, but it's actually created quite a dilemma.

I thought that I knew the color that I wanted to paint the bike - I've had it picked out in my mind for over a year now - but as I think about it more and look at color options, I can see things going in two ways. First option: keep things more muted, classic, and understated (this was the original idea), or (second option) perhaps it is better to try out something bright? In some sense, I find that I'm more visible because of the orange color (even when there isn't as much light out), so perhaps going brighter makes more sense?
RAL 4009 - A lavender/gray-ish color to keep it looking classic
I tend to be drawn to very brightly colored bikes, but I appreciate the subtly in more muted colors as well. It's a little disturbing to be drawn to such different colors... but it's fun to think about what the Hillborne would look like with each of the different possibilities.
RAL 1016 - Maybe bright yellow is the way to go?
There are so many options to choose from that I find it difficult to make a decision, so I know I will hold off until I'm certain of the direction I want to go. But, when you have a chart of colors to pick from, it's difficult to narrow things down it seems.
RAL color chart - so many colors!
I find that I am fond of many different options, but I'm curious, if you were going to paint your bike, what color would you choose? Do you prefer the more muted tones, or would you opt for a brighter option? And, of course, if you'd like to offer suggestions for the Hillborne specifically, I'm all ears... err, uh, eyes.


  1. A friend of mine powder coated a frame an iridescent 4006 on your chart. It is gorgeous and very unusual. If you like bright colors, the mauve is kind of depressing. I love a yellow bike, so I'd probably choose that between the two. What colors do you wear most? I love your bike and I hope it finds a new coat!

    1. Oooh, I bet the 4006 was very interesting!

      The two color swatches were just samplings of possibilities... I am definitely drawn to bright yellow bikes though, so it is in the running. :O)

      As for colors worn most, I tend to wear more muted tones (usually)... so, I suppose a brighter bike could balance that out nicely. I think I fear painting it bright though and getting sick of the color quickly, whereas with a more muted choice, it would be more understated. Hmm... something to think about.

  2. I'm a jewel tone kind of girl, rather than muted or bright. If PUBLIC had offered the C8 in the same royal blue as the M8, I'd have jumped on that without a second thought. I do like the idea of an iridescent finish for your bike whether you go muted (muted iridescence?) or bright.

    The more I think about it, your internet presence is very bright. You need a bike to match that. :)

    I have a color question for you. How are Hillborne's tires so clean? In less than a week of riding, my C8's tires are nearly solid black on the treads and dingy on the sidewalls.

    1. I do love that darker blue that Public has on the M8... very pretty with the cream tires.

      I am so torn about the bright bike... I am definitely drawn to the bright colors, but on some level fear it.

      The Hillborne's tires really aren't very clean, honestly. It's deceptive in a lot of the photos because there's some distance. The sidewalls get grungy looking and the tread is pretty bad too. They were just cleaned about a month ago by the wonderfully fabulous Sam, but I've been on it quite a bit since that time. Unfortunately, I think it's one of the down sides to the light colored tires, though it doesn't bother me as much now as it did when they were brand new. Even after cleaning, they still keep that dirty look too. I wish I had a good suggestion for keeping them clean, but I've yet to figure that out. :O)

  3. Not sure I can help you since I've very undecided about this myself. I'm thinking about having my bike repainted. I like the color okay - it's similar to RAL 5013 - but it has about a gazillion logos. Apparently in the mid-80s, Raleigh felt they needed to label very part of the bike with some kind of logo. And I do mean every part - top tube, down tube, seat tube, chain stays, seat stays, fork blades, fork crown, and more.

    I love both the original green and orange colors of the Sam Hillborne. I also love bright colors - yellows, reds, oranges. And I think that lavender would be elegant. You see my problem...

    I don't think you can go wrong with yellow or lavender, actually. As for me, I'll probably end up with black, a color I've always admired in vintage bikes. Plus, I can easily use accessories to brighten it or class it up as I choose.

    1. I don't think the decal-madness was exclusive to Raleigh, CJ...or at least from what I've seen recently in the 80s era bikes. I think it was more of that time kind of thing, perhaps? I've been looking at a few 80s road bikes over the last month or so and they all seem to be sticker-laden. I feel your pain though, as I've never been a fan of tons of decals all over a bike.

      My love of all the colors has given me trouble too... I just don't know which way to turn anymore, but hopefully, a stand out will make itself known. :O)

      Good luck with your bike paint decision too! As you said, black is a nice, classic color - hard to go wrong... hmm... a black Hillborne? Maybe not.

  4. I like the way you look in green. Do you wear a lot of it? The clear bright 6018 would look good with that saddle. (But, then again, I once painted a room a bright purple--and loved it--so maybe my advice should be taken cautiously!!)

    1. Marsha, I don't wear green very often - but maybe I should! :O) It's funny that you bring up the 6018 because I was pondering a brighter green as well. So many choices... it just makes it difficult to make a decision.

      By the way, I'm actually looking at a bright purple for our kitchen right now. I think some are trying to talk me out of it, but I think it could look really cool... besides, it's just paint.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Man, you can't get guys to discuss bike colors - but I come from a design background, so I place a lot of weight on the color of a bike. If you like yellow, have you seen the yellow Bobbin Birdie bike?

  6. I like flashy colors like red, silver metallic [or silver blue metallic], deep purple, orange, and sky blue [cyan]. Fluorescent yellow would also be fun.

  7. I am confused over RAL color charts. Colors can vary greatly from swash to swash on the Internet. I think I'll find an actual paper sample locally, to be sure, before repainting a bike. If I had an orange bike, I wouldn't change it as it is harder to find bikes that aren't neutral colors these days. That's just me. I'm more prone to paint a bike that needs a new finish or one that is a boring dark color.


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