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The color of a bike may seem a trivial thing, but it weighs heavily on the mind of anyone buying a new machine.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the predicament? The bike that has all the features you want has a gaudy or boring finish you don’t like. It’s a deal-breaker.
Many of us accept bike specs below what we wanted because the frame has a beautiful color.
Or we go the other way and spend a thousand or two $$$ more for an amazing finish.
What’s with that?
In this article, we discuss why bike colors are so important.
What Are The Best Bicycle Colors (And The Worst!)?
Firstly, are there bike colors that are objectively better than others? Maybe one color is safer than another, for instance.
Bike Colors & Safety | Visibility
Some bike frames have a fluorescent yellow finish, and maybe that has some minor effect on your visibility in certain situations. But motorists don’t usually see or notice a bike’s color when driving straight at you.
Nobody really talks about bike visibility, either, because the most effective way to become visible on a bike is to wear bright clothing. The color of the frame seems immaterial as far as your safety goes because there’s little surface area to see.
Scientific studies on this subject are few, and results aren’t always conclusive or what you’d expect (e.g., blue being easier to see than white or yellow).
On the other hand, there are retroreflective tires and bike frames in existence that make cyclists more visible during night-time riding. The notion of bike visibility shouldn’t be dismissed altogether if you do a lot of urban after-dark riding.
Read more: Bicycle commuting when it’s dark
The Subjective Element
You could create a bike frame in any color or pattern and some people would like or love it. When a bike reviewer describes a bike as having a “stunning finish”, you never have to agree with him or her.
And yet some colors and color combinations always have mass appeal. Even the non-color black is hugely popular, just as it is in cars. It has a kind of understated class, enigma, and stealth.
Black also goes rather well with red and white (says I).
The Objective Element
Anyone who is a painter or dabbled in a bit of color theory as a photographer may be familiar with color wheels and color harmony. Bike frames tend to be easy on the eye and often contain analogous colors (e.g. orange and red).
And yet the bike’s decals may well be in a complementary color—the opposite color on a color wheel—so they stand out against the frame. These design choices are based on known principles as to what colors work well together.
The Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 8 Disc in “Hot Salsa” combines red and purple, which are not often seen together. Purple is a color that mixes seamlessly with cooler hues. But personal taste always plays a part.
Whether you’re searching for a bike helmet or a bike, you’ll often find that black is sold out and you have to wait for weeks or take the lime green. Black and various shades of dark grey are popular neutral colors (technically not colors).
Many road cyclists in particular have a fascination with speed. Even if you’re not especially fast anymore (or never were), a bike that looks quick makes you want to ride. And what colors suggest speed in a bike? Red or orange – fiery colors.
Red stands out as a color in most objects. It’s always striking.
Cool blue tones also appeal to cyclists. Most famous among these colors is probably the “celeste” blue/green of an Italian Bianchi road bike, though the precise hue has altered over the years.
A handy thing about having the same taste in colors as everyone else is that it helps the resale value of your bike.
If the small sample pool on Roadbike Review counts for anything, black, red, and blue are the three most popular bike colors. Green and yellow are less popular.
Video: 1995 Steel Bianchi With Celeste Blue/Green Frame
Bikes designed with women in mind, like some step-through cruisers, tend to have either cliched feminine colors or bright colors (e.g., pink, cyan, yellow, orange).
You won’t often find these bikes in gloomy black, perhaps because of their fun, non-serious intent. Men’s cruiser bikes tend to be soberer in color.
Read more: Can you use cruisers for commuting?
Aesthetics & Fitness
We’ve touched on this already, but cyclists have a particular relationship with their bikes. If a bike looks good to you and exudes speed or class, you’ll want to ride it. And riding it makes you fitter, even if you ride slowly most of the time.
A bike that looks fast and is fast, at least potentially, makes you want to push yourself and get the best out of it. Thus, the color and look of a bike are important in that respect. It’s motivational.
Our Favorite 5 Bike Liveries And Ideas
Certain bike liveries and ideas stick in the mind. Either they were tasteful or creative, or both. Nostalgia also plays a part.
1. Colnago Eddie Merckx Molteni (Orange)
Efsane / Legend 1972 Colnago Super Eddy Merckx Molteni#eddymerckx #tourdefrance #tdf #cycling #bike #bianchi #campagnolo #letourdefrance #eddymerckxbikes #marcopantani #brussels #belgium #cyclinglife #bikelife #photography #merckx #steelvintagebikes #pinarello #vintagebike pic.twitter.com/InogRqgzPo— Acapella (@egemenatkaya) September 27, 2019
Eddie Merckx is widely considered the greatest all-around cyclist that ever lived. A modern equivalent is probably Wout Van Aert.
Merckx raced for Molteni in distinctive orange colors and his orange-colored bike was made by Colnago in the 1970s.
Another retro bike still made in orange is the Holdsworth road bike. The brand is loaded with UK cycling history and is owned today by Planet X.
2. Bianchi MegaPro XL – Mercatone Uno | Marco Pantani
A cyclist who possessed phenomenal climbing talent from an early age, and before any alleged drug involvement, was Marco Pantani.
In 1998, he rode a beautiful blue and yellow Bianchi MegaPro XL to victory in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. It had a Campagnolo Record groupset with a tough 44t-23t lowest climbing gear.
3. Look Mondrian Color Scheme (1980s – Present)
The 2014 Look range now in stock at Marrey Bike, Part of the Look 695 Premium collection, Look 695 Mondrian is a tru… pic.twitter.com/sYlM7W3r8O— Marrey Bikes (@MarreyInfo) February 19, 2014
Look is a French bike company renowned for its superior engineering quality. The bright Mondrian color scheme, inspired by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, first appeared on the La Vie Claire cycling team kit in the 1980s and eventually adorned some Look frames.
One of Look’s best bikes was the Look 695, available in a Mondrian finish.
4. Merida Reacto Team-E (Bahrain Victorious WorldTour Team)
The Merida Reacto Team-E is a speedy aero road bike in a black and Papaya Orange livery inspired by McClaren motor cars. McClaren was a sponsor of the Bahrain team (formerly known as Bahrain McClaren) until the end of the 2020 season.
This colorway is replicated in the Merida Reacto 5000 model at a more affordable price.
5. Wilier Triestina Filante SLR – Marbled Finish (Astana Qazaqstan Team)
Combining Wilier Triestina’s performance DNA with a premium hand-painted frame finishing. The result is a particular chrome-plated graphite livery that matches perfectly @AstanaQazTeam iconic colors.— Wilier Triestina (@WilierTriestina) January 3, 2023
Filante SLR Astana Qazaqstan edition ➡️ https://t.co/VBjdywXgcR#lovemywilier pic.twitter.com/uItwBN9tmC
Bringing you up to date, the Astana 2023 version of the Wilier Filante SLR has a beautiful hand-painted marbled blue and silver finish. The finish extends to the aero one-piece cockpit with its sleek handlebar stem.
This is the bike Mark Cavendish may ride as a new Astana rider bidding to overtake Eddie Merckx’s Tour de France stage win record.
2 thoughts on “Bike Colors: Why They Matter (Including Our Favorite Liveries)”
Not embedding actual images in your page makes it garbage. Not able to see a single image.
Hi EP. That’s concerning. Are you not able to click the images that take you to social media where you can then zoom in? WHat device are you using, mobile or desktop?