Gallery: the making of Connor Swift’s customised Genesis Zero SL

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Images and an interview from Colourburn Studio where Connor Swift’s celebratory Genesis Zero SL was customised in celebration of his British National road title

Photographs: Ben Read; Luke Webber

Madison-Genesis didn’t have any spare frames available when they decided to commission a special custom paint scheme to celebrate Connor Swift’s surprise victory in the British National Championships.


First they had to get their factory to make one up and air freight it over. From there it went straight to Rob Nichols at Colourburn Studio before being returned to the team’s mechanic Chuck Buckley for its final build.


Having looked at the finished product and discussed the inspiration for the design in a previous post, here we talk to Nicolson about the process of applying the paint scheme.


How long did the paint scheme take?


I turned the frame around in about a week and half, spending about 30-35 hours on the bike in total. It was a fun project to work on, but also a little stressful due to the time sensitive nature of the project.


Although you were working around the constraints of the national champs colours and input from Connor Swift and Madison, it sounds like you had quite a lot of input yourself in the design?


I’ve done a fair bit of work in the past year for various  pro teams and sponsored riders, and having visible sponsorship logos is always a tricky thing to incoroporate into a design. But it’s part of racing, so needs to happen. Its a bit more complicated when it’s a national champ’s bike, as I think the stripes deserve a certain level of respect. Having the bike covered in logos can distract from from what the bike represents.


I think we found a happy medium on this one.  I really wanted to try and do something a bit different than the typical white bike with red and blue stripes that we usually see for the British national champs. So that is where the idea of the splatter effect on the the rear end came from and Connor seemed into the idea when I proposed it to him.


I think its important to keep a bit of fun in cycling, even at this level, and I’ve tried to do that with this bike. It’s business as usual out front, and a party at the rear!


You actively discouraged Connor to hold back on one or two ideas to avoid the whole thing being over-the-top…


Yes, there are quite a few little personal touches on the bike that Connor requested: a specific quote that he thinks of when racing and a few other little things. Obviously Connor is the National Champ and fully deserves to have whatever he wants written on his bike, but I felt if we put them all along the top tube together, it would have been a bit cluttered.


Read: Custom paint (part I) – six stunning personalised frames and the stories behind them


Although they were personal, and very meaningful to Connor, they would’t have made much sense all next to each other. So we decided to spread them out a bit over the bike: putting the quote on the top of the stem instead of the top tube for example. It was a case of trying to make all those elements work visually with the rest of the bike.


What techniques did you use in creating the paint scheme?


I’ve done a fair bit of work with the guys at Genesis on custom projects and I was watching the national champs on TV at home. So when I saw Connor win, I started thinking about what I’d do for a national champ’s bike straight away. I really try and design my paint schemes to stand out a bit from the norm, and immediately thought a white bike with red and blue splatter would be a great way to incorporate the championship colours, yet have a bike that really stands out in the peleton.


Was that aspect as simple as it looks in the photos?


Part of the process is as lo-fi as flicking paint with a mixing stick, but the type of paint and viscosity mix are very important. It’s not as pre-school art class as it may look. There is definitely a skill to it.

There are are several inter-coat stages needed to achieve a totally flat finish. But I’m afraid I don’t want to give away all the finer details as it’s taken me a lot of trial and error to figure out how to do it. It’s a technique I’ve used a fair bit before, but never in a split design like this one.


The front half of the bike is white with a very light grey speckle over the top. You get this effect by adjusting the flow and pressure of the spray gun. It looks plain white from a distance, but gives a tone on tone depth to the paint when you look at it up close.


Read: Custom paint (part II) – six schemes with an arty theme


Connor’s nickname on the top tube is gilded in variegated gold leaf. Gilding is a very old fashioned technique, and it’s super tricky to get clean and sharp graphics using this technique on complex paint schemes like this. All the other graphics on the bike have been applied with an airbrish and stencils.


Did you do anything new that you’d not done before?


I painted a matching bike stand with Swifty’s name on. That was definitely a first for me.


Were there any external sources of inspiration for the design?


Not really. There are certain aspects of the design like the Yorkshire rose for example that I had to draw up from reference images off the web. But pretty much the whole design was created and executed in house at Colourburn Studio.


That said, I’m reminded by the sad news of Dario Pegoretti’s passing last week of what effect he had on the industry. He was a true game changer. Bike design would be a much duller industry if it wasn’t for his fresh approach Being able to create the kind of design we have done for Connor can be directly linked to his influence.

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