Select works 18––23
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08/2023–Painting-process research starts.

The research concludes that re-painting a carbon bicycle frame is doable but with specific requirements.

  • The frame has to be painted with a carbon-resin-friendly primer.
  • The frame must be sanded and keyed enough for the specific primer to work.
  • Due to the nature of the two-part paint (2k), the ambient temperature can’t drop below 13c as the chemical reaction for curing stops.

As it was likely that this would take longer than expected, and the fact that the studio is housed in an old industrial pot bank, and with autumn quickly approaching, this could become a problem.

12/08/2023–Idea development starts.

Taking design cues from the BMC paint job, idea development started with photographing the bike in the studio and experimenting with examples of colour combinations and designs in Photoshop.

The final paint design and the colour combinations are confirmed; black and metallic silver with a medium fleck.

Metallic silver with a high-gloss finish would allow the environment and lighting to affect the shape of the frame and how it’s viewed by the human eye, with gloss black accents designed to blend into the winter nights of the UK, contrasting against the reflectiveness of the metallic silver; monochromatic by design, and a metaphorical representation of IFSOBCZWHY.

A conversation between two best friends, an opportunity to once again communicate that IFSOBCZWHY isn’t just a photography studio; a one-off edition conceived.

The reality is that burnout comes to us all at some point in the career of a creative, and after discussing this in-depth with business coach Iain Thackrah it led to the realisation that the driving factor behind IFSOBCZWHY was to get paid to do cool shit. When founded, this was the 'true north', and over time, and for whatever reasons, the studio had lost sight of this.

Painting a custom one-off IFSOBCZWHY edition of a bike frame was a random concept. A concept with creative weight. If the studio created a one-off edition, what would it look like,and would it be ‘any good’?, and could it even be done?

Discussing this idea with Videographer Joe Brennan, we discovered that he had a 2014 BMC Teammachine SLR02 locked away in his shed; his first real racing bike. A bike he would never sell, a bike that he won his first national championship crit race on, and a bike he would entrust IFSOBCZWHY to modify, but also a bike that had seen better days and as cyclists do, had been demoted to his winter training bike.

The seed was planted, the idea firmly rooted, and the only condition stated – don’t fuck it up.


18/08/2023–IFSOBCZWHY graphic development.

As this would be an IFSOBCZWHY edition of a BMC bike, the bike needed to be instantly recognisable as a BMC product, but getting closer to the bike would reveal that this was not a standard off-the-shelf version of the 2013 Teammachine SLR02.

In holding the frame I noticed my fingerprints. Everything touched by the studio would leave with a metaphorical creative fingerprint and as humans, we leave traces of our presence in the form of fingerprints.

The development of the IFSOBCZWHY graphic came down to a simple idea, everything we touch as a studio should leave with our fingerprint, a visual icon representing the studio; the Turing pattern fingerprint.

20/08–Wet sanding of the BMC Teammachine SLR02 begins.

For the 2K carbon primer to work correctly, the entire frame required wet sanding; sanding started with 240-grit sandpaper. The quality of the finish straight from BMC was nothing short of impressive. Where deep scratches had occurred over time from years of use, the thickness of the paint was measurable.

After sanding the frame with 240-grit sandpaper, it needed resanding with 400-grit to even out any remaining imperfections and scratches in the existing paintwork.

The entire sanding process was done by hand, totalling about 22 hours of sanding and a pack of 240-grit and 400-grit sandpaper.

06/09–Frame primed with 2K carbon primer.

Everything came down to whether the prep work that had gone into the frame was enough. I applied primer to the frame, forks and seat post–the primer was matte black and dried with a rough texture, ideal for the next steps of the process.

I sprayed the frame twice in 8 hours, leaving approximately 4 hours between each coat of primer, and allowed it to dry for 72 hours before being handled.


24/09– Gloss black paint is applied to the frame.

The next step of the painting process was the gloss black base coat that would form the main body of paint for the rear frame supports, seat post and forks, and this would also act as a base coat for the metallic silver section design.

Due to a drop in temperature and lack of experience spray painting, tiny air bubbles formed on the first and second coats of paint, and required the frame to cure for seven days before being able to refinish the frame and sand back all of the imperfections from spraying. I sprayed a third coat of gloss black paint, and no paint bubbling occurred.

I let the black paint cure for seven days, the following steps would require masking off sections of the freshly painted frame, and it was important that the paint had cured before taping off the parts of the frame that would remain black.

13/10–Metallic silver paint was applied to the frame.

A further drop in temperature meant that without a temperature-controlled spray booth, the bike was left untouched for two weeks, the time had finally come to apply the metallic silver paint, and with the frame masked off, a nervous breath and a not-so-steady hand, I started to spray the frame silver.

Metallic silver paint is unforgiving, I'd chosen to go for a colour with a fine metallic fleck, which left little to no room for errors, and the ambient temperature of the studio wasn't in our favour, averaging just above 10c.

The temperate at floor level was 2c and close to 24c in the ceiling space; we needed an average of 13c for the paint to cure without air bubbles.

18/10–Paint cured, application of BMC decals.

Due to the frame design, applying the BMC decals was a headache. Each side of the frame required the logo to be in the opposite direction to read correctly and not be back-to-front.

The frame also tapers, and the shape meant there was little to no visual guide when trying to match decal positioning.

I applied BMC decals to the bottom of the seat post, and both sides of the downtube. The studio's decal was applied to the top tube to be visible from the position of the rider.

With the decals applied and the end in sight, the frame was cleaned using lighter fluid and prepped for the 2K clear coat. The clear coat would ensure that the decals would remain permanent, giving a durable layer to the frame.

31/10–2K Clear coat is applied, and the painting is complete.

We applied 2K clear coat, wet sanding with 1200-grit sandpaper after the first coat. The final sanding removed any subtle flaws and orange-peel texture that remained. The final clear-coat layer is applied, and the frame is left to cure in the studio.

Estimated drying time based on the ambient temperature of the studio – 7 days.

14/11–The paint still hasn’t dried. Fuck.

?/12–The paint still hasn’t dried and is soft to the touch.

01/2023–Frame polished and bike reassembled.

It turns out that a studio based in an old industrial pot bank made of concrete, isn’t the most suitable of conditions for resin-based paint to cure fully.

What should’ve been a 7-day curing period turned into a 6-week wait, and we couldn’t start polishing the frame and reassembling the bike until the paint had hardened.

We opted for a two-part car polish; part one was a polishing compound, and part two was a waxed-based finishing polish. Polishing the frame, forks, and seat post took approximately 4 hours and was done by hand.

Repainting of the BMC TMSLR02 is complete–time to rebuild.


14/01–Photography of the IFSOBCZWHY BMCTMSLR02

From conception, I’d had an idea of how I wanted the imagery to look, and I knew that the choice of paint would dramatically change the shape and feel of the frame based on the environment and its lighting.

The colour scheme is monochromatic by design, but the imagery would be shot in colour, allowing nuanced tonalities to show.

I wanted the bike to feel fast, like an old 1970s Porche 911, and the shape of the BMC needed to be captured and showcased the only way I knew how; in camera.

The people around me and the creatives involved with the studio know that authenticity is important to me, the studio, and its approach to every project.

The final hero image is an accidental image with a bike, studio equipment and photographer in the shot, a two-light set-up, a bike stand, and two Mathews C-stands.

The IFSOBCZWHY BMC Teammachine SLR02.

Photography – Ben Farr
Post-production – Ben Farr
Videography – Joe Brennan/Adam Grüning

A special mention goes to Joe Brennan, videographer and best friend, without him this project wouldn’t have got off the ground, he’s made a short film about the project and you should watch it here.