Classic Steel Frame Design
I think lugged steel bicycles are, by their very nature, beautiful. The thin diameter tubes, the crisp angles, and the graceful lines of the lugs all combine to make a functional work of art. If you’re new to a steel frame, then you have yet to experience what can only be described as the magic carpet ride. I’ve ridden every kind of material out there. Unless you’re trying to shave seconds off of your personal best, I’m convinced you really need to throw your leg over a custom steel frame to know what you’ve been missing. Personally I’ve found that I’m faster on a steel frame after the second hour in the saddle than any other kind of bicycle, because road vibration and rider fatigue are lessened significantly. For this reason, Paramour bikes are designed only with steel frames.
Radical geometries and one-off attempts to reengineer the classic double-diamond bicycle frame are not my thing. I applaud the builders who attempt those kinds of things, and I would happily recommend someone if you want to go in that direction. I’ve found that a better use of my time is to work towards the goal of flawlessly executing a proven design. I’m a firm believer that your Paramour should be a blend of performance and aesthetics. If you are wanting the lightest and stiffest frame that money can buy, I’m not your builder and steel should not be your starting point.
Choosing Paint Colors
Paint choices can bring out the beauty of a steel bike or overpower it. When it comes to paint schemes on lugged frames, I’m a big fan of starting with classic color combinations and sprinkling in a few bits of design here and there. Simple color choices lead to what I like to call a long shelf life. Turquoise and chocolate brown might be the hot thing now, but that combo doesn’t have the same staying power as a fundamentally sound pairing, like red and white.
If a basic paint scheme seems a little too tame, lame, or timid for you, then you can always tweak things by changing up the color just a bit. Red doesn’t have to be fire-engine red; it can be maroon, cranberry, or candy-apple metal flake. If you want to be even more adventuresome with the main color, then I usually suggest grounding it by keeping the decal and graphic choices fairly basic. If rocking a mid-80s Italian fade scheme is your thing, then I have no problem with that. (Though I would suggest keeping it to two colors instead of three.) Just make sure you understand that you are cultivating a very specific look. Bottom line: I can spec any color out of the Dupont auto refinishing catalog—just know that some of the more trendy choices may not stand up well over time.
For some examples of strong paint schemes, check out the bicycles in my gallery or my Flickr stream. If you really want that one-of-a-kind look for your bike, let’s talk about it. Together we can come up with something special.
Makers Marks and Other Details
There are certain design elements that belong on all Paramour frames. The head tube badge, the seat tube badge, and the name on the down tube are all fixtures. I also prefer to have what I call the “steel star” on the fork blades. Most painters like to have their logo or badge on the left chain stay. It’s my plan to provide you with options for each of these elements so you will have plenty of choices available. That way, your custom bike is truly one of a kind.