Have you ever been in the midst of a killer bike build and get stuck on one particular piece of the rolling pie simply because that part doesn’t come in just the right color? It’s a modern day horror story. For instance, maybe the purple anodizing on that cog doesn’t match that sweet purple ano chainring on your single speed build or the hot pink accents on your saddle clash with that dope Pepto-pink powdercoat on that new all-road frame? Do your oranges not match? Is the “right part” the only one that doesn’t actually exist in our current reality? Does it exist and is prohibitively expensive? Does the dizzying array of greens make it difficult to make one cohesive colourway?
I have tread upon that glass path of bike building many times. Years ago the LBS mechanics would rib me about this penchant for matching parts. In fact one time it was properly used against me while impatiently waiting out a delay for my holy grail road bike build, a baby blue Salsa Ti Colossal with Sram eTap, to be completed. They had to order another front derailleur hanger in because “we have one at the shop, but I didn’t think you’d want a Shimano branded hanger on your SRAM derailleur.” Touche. He knew me well, that would have been grinding my gears until it was replaces. Speaking of that Salsa frame, I still to this day hate that they added a red pinstripe to the fork. I almost bought a new raw fork and had it painted to match the frame so that I could do a baby blue/pink theme aka the “Gender Reveal Color Scheme.” This thankfully didn’t happen, I went with all black components and it is a fine steed indeed, even with the one tiny red offset which I can clearly not move past years later. I did build a pink Twin Six Standard Rando after that, so I got my pink bike fix eventually. I get that the shop ribbing was all out of fun, although reading back through this paragraph (and thinking back through my past color match neurosis), it was funny because it was true. Maybe a few of you reading this now can relate. All of this was before the Modern Era of Matching Parts.
The Modern Era of Matching Parts, or MEMP, has been sort of like the Industrial Revolution for us hobbyist bike build fanatics, except without all the cholera and brown lung disease. Paul Components, Wolf Tooth Components, Industry Nine, Supacaz, Hope, and so many other now offer a dizzying array of blinged out colors for everything from levers to bar end plugs to mounting bolts. Paul periodically releases full sets of limited edition anodized parts, one of the more recent was an entire gold set. My New Belgium Urban Assault partner and I were planning on building all-gold fixies to use for the third or fourth running of that event and this would have been perfect as many of the gold parts available at the time were kind of sketchy Chinese knock-offs. I’m sure they would have been just fine, but today this would have been as easy as a few searches to order parts and waiting for delivery.
MEMP is a great and glorious thing, and with more options it means you have a much better chance of matching those colors on your dream build. I guess that is my point today: it used to be a PITA to match parts, if you were so inclined, but now it’s pretty simple if you have the $$$$ to fork out.
I will expand on this discussion in the future, but for now, as it is time to leave on my bike ride to parts unknown, I leave you with this:
What is your most painful moment of bike build color matching?
- Wolf Tooth Components – Chainrings, Bling, err’ thang
- Paul Components – Boutique level anodized parts
- Endless Bikes – Kick Ass Cogs, SS Chainrings, Spacers
- SUPACAZ – Bar tape, pedals, tools, etc.
- Purely Custom – Custom top caps, all sorts of anodized stuff
- White Industries – Hubs, Cranksets, etc
- Industry Nine – Wheels n Things!