Why is the bike blue? — Inside the mind of a graphic designer

Why is the bike blue? — Inside the mind of a graphic designer

In our scrolling endeavours we’ve all happened across vintage cycling photos. Oh have times changed, even from as recently as the last decade. Dive deeper into the rabbit hole and feel a wave of nostalgia to wash over us, with the distinctive colours and garish graphics triggering memories and emotions from when times were different, and when we were different. The designs that marked cycling history didn’t just reflect the era, they defined them, and us, and vice versa. That’s what made us at SwiftCarbon think ‘wow bike designers actually have some significant rule over our emotions…’

The debate is out on the interdependence of external influence and internal inspiration, but in the meantime we thought to ask our design team where and how his inspiration came in imagining some of the bikes in our 2021 range. We can’t promise our bikes appear in social media feeds in years to come, or even where or how they’ll appear (we’ve learned not to try predict anything in this crazy world), but just for curiosity’s sake we thought we’d take a look inside the mind of the person that sits late at night in our HQ office, dreaming (and designing).

Looking at bikes today, there’s a distinct move away from the aggressive, bold, italics riddled graphics to a more muted, single colour design. From the dizzying, bewildering schemes that wouldn’t look out of place on a casino carpet or bodybuilding supplement tub, to a pared down look. Less is more. Yet with minimalism comes an added pressure – all the focus is on what remains. This makes it all about the colour selection – a point on which our guy is acutely aware.

“Colour trends in bikes right now seems to be all about a new take on a traditional colour. Like the red Hypervox – it’s less of a standard crimson and more of a radiant red, and it really pops. I like this colour a lot and I am reminded of wineries – a classic red wine [our HQ and paint shop is in Porto, as in Port wine…] In certain light condition it looks muted, but in the sunlight it really radiates with the metallic finish. It's a colour that reminds me that riding fast bikes does not have to be about bike racing. This colour speaks about lifestyle, experience, traveling…

“A grey bike is a must for any collection and the Ultravox is a matt, ‘anchor’ grey with white. I first showed to one of our marketing guys and it made him laugh – he knew exactly why I’d picked it. We are right at the seaside and I associate this grey with ships crossing the horizon – the metal surface of the vessels. It’s a new kind of grey with some character to it. I think the white helps the overall look to stand out. It just would’ve been too ‘military’ if we make the details and logos in black.

“We painted one of the Hypervox models in a chalk grey and navy blue metallic. Being a car fan, the appeal is linked to performance car trends – yes grey what we call a ‘commercial colour’ (an easy seller) like the Ultravox disc in gloss dark grey and light grey. But this is a grey with something extra, reminding me of a flat white coffee after a ride – the mix of coffee and milk – that kind of tonal reference. I like that there's still a story to a ‘commercial requirement’. But the real beauty of the colour on the frame is something that you can’t see easily in photos – the blue metallic details and metallic navy blue logos are like the pre-dawn sky. This looks spectacular in the sun and is an unusual combination.

“The Attack G2 comes in murdered-out black on black – gloss logos on a matt background. We always have to have a black bike in the range. Our customers demand it. I like to imagine that it gives the rider a chance to make their kit pop. The matt just soaks up all the light… The bike is not asking for attention – it’s all about the rider. Hey and also, we should focus on the surroundings, the beautiful landscapes we’ll pass. The bike can blend in. Make the highlights of the ride the scenery. That’s the story of the ride!

“The Racevox comes in a gloss blue cyan. If we go back to the early years, this colour appears often and has become ‘our brand’. I have to admit this evolution from the ‘classic’ 2014 solid colour was a happy accident. We wanted to recreate a retrospective look and when testing it in the paint booth at the factory we made a slight error in the mix. The production manager apologised profusely but somehow the final result looked really great. This in fact inspired me to push harder and experiment more – to go radical to a point where I know it will never work. Every now and then there’s a trigger. It’s great to get out of the comfort zone to rebirth something and give it a new life. The cyan seems obvious now and the difference is subtle, but in the process we needed to go radical to get there. It's on brand, it’s classy and still sporty.”