So Cole Coatings Workshop is still refinishing BUT we have other commitments at the moment and we have so many requests that we just have to be really picky about what we say "yes" to.
We average around 20 legit non-timewaster requests a week and we can probably paint three to four bikes well per month... so... in order for us to take it on, it's usually gotta be something "special". We're not aloof, we're just really busy!
At the minute, we've got some bikes for the Olympics in Tokyo and a couple of handmade things from collectors we work with regularly and our NDAs say we can't talk about anything more than that! There's no harm in asking though.
In the instance that we're unable to help, we always recommend Paul at Quinntessential Customs. Paul apprenticed at Cole Coatings Workshop for four years and now has their own full time wet paint practice. They also are an experienced mechanic in their own right so they bring an insight many others might not have. Check out Paul's recent work here... including a fun tribute to one of the Rapha Cannondale Palace bikes Rob worked on... https://www.quinntessentialcustomsworkshop.com/
There are a few people I rate... some rambled nonsense below...
An aftermarket wet spray finish is not as strong or as "clean" as the factory finish on your bike now or any bike you have ever bought off the peg... for loads of reasons not worth sharing now.
Painting a carbon bike will almost always void your warranty.
A custom wet finish needs aftercare. It should be treated like it cost you what you paid for it!
Painting a carbon bike should really involve fully stripping it back to bare carbon but this is laborious and therefore expensive. Some painters are happy to tell you that and work according to your budget, others won't work on anything but raw carbon even if that means a large portion of your budget goes into sanding off the original paint.
Any bike that is "vintage" or old or whatever isn't going to get the same finish as a brand new frame. It's old and not fun to work on and concessions have to be made from the off. Your lugs will be softened, your panto elements will be less defined, all the original chrome will be gone too...
Don't ask anyone to lug line for you on a refurb. It can never look genuinely good unless it's a brand new, perfectly made set of lugs and painted by the most steady-handed artist in the world. Lug lining is always imperfect by the nature of the free-hand application so in my humble opinion, it has no place on modern finishes which can be done with complex detailed cnc layered stencils.
Try Vaz for an enamel plus transfers if you have an old bike.
If you want a clean finish, don't ask for white or any plain, light solid colour... it will get surface inclusions - which just means bits of dust and such.
If you can give the refinisher freedoms, they can make it cheaper. They will explain this if you ask.
Most of the good ones are artists and designers of some form and are self-employed so giving strict instructions on exactly what you want isn't fun and doesn't always get the best work.
If you've been looking online for "cool bike paint" on pinterest, you're already going to start by taking someone else's idea and interpreting it or embellishing it in some way... just be aware that if you are too invested in it being like something else you've seen, you might not be getting the full benefit of a one-of-a-kind custom finish! Tell the refinisher about your favourite album art or food or holidays or something... for something unique, try to take the design inspiration from somewhere other than a bike that already exists... and if your next thought after that is "I should paint it like a car I've seen", you are not in any way original and someone has almost certainly already done it!
Don't go for any kind of non-gloss finish. Matte, satin etc are complex to apply, difficult to maintain and not as strong as gloss finishes. Matte finishes can't be repaired if they scratch. Gloss can. Flowcoats can. Swerve non-gloss even though it looks great.
No refinishers like painting fluro/neon. It fades and doesn't cover well and its cheaply made so it has chemical conflicts with "real" paint. Swerve it.
Splatter isn't a wise investment in a finish that lasts. Auto paint is designed to be atomised so applying with anything other than airbrushes and HVLP guns means the chemical ratios are inaccurate and the build is too high... you'll have a non-deliberate textured finish you can feel with your hands (not indicative of a premium finish imo) and it won't chemically bond properly so it won't be as tough as it should.
Get a flowcoat if your budget can stretch. Cure the bike as long ast the [ainter tells yo... then wait more...
Have it professionally wrapped if you can afford it... not helitape or invisiwrap which anyone in a bike shop can do, but a professional wrap from a specialist. christ Tilley is the best out there in my humble opinion... knows more about paint than some of the painters.
Once you learn about how to read the light and see peel, dry spray/overspray/fallout, polished clear, unpolished clear, figuring out if paint is done with stencils or masks and how to spot product or edge build, you'll usually be able to tell who is good with your own eyes.
Always the same things to consider... don't go to anyone who can fit you in tomorrow. If they were any good, they'd have a waiting list! Don't go to anyone who says they can do it in two weeks... they're cutting corners to do that.
It's not always necessary to choose someone based on a "style"you like per se... good refinishers can paint most things just as well as one another, just make sure that the person you're commissioning understands what your needs are and you understand what the limitations of the process are (relative to your particular design).
Some finishes don't need paint per se. Gold leaf, polishing, brushing, media blasting etc.
Same opinion on Ali at Fat Creations.
Super talented refinisher but they like to throw everything at it!
That's not to say they can't do "subtle" but you rarely see it.
Potentially also a victim of their own success in that their online profile means they get more requests than they can take on without an epic wait list which is enough to put some off... I know because I've painted things for people after Ali has given them an estimated timeline.
You might see Phil Callow here and there.
LOVES airbrushing so gets loads of flake and candy and pearl and cartoons and stencils on there. Callow is a hobbyist though so might not offer the level of service you might want.
And they only paint their own designs.
I highly rate Jack Kingston in Hull. Jack comes from a motorbike customisation background so gets the small scale of a bike down really well compared to those who come from car backgrounds.
Tom, aka Kustomflow is a really talented painter.
Mercian is great at what they do but this isn't strictly in line with what people are able to achieve with modern, premium automotive paint and tools. Its right for Mercian bikes but not for everything.
I've seen many things from Argos and again, they're fine at the price point they work at but they aren't for everyone. I wouldn't use them for anything too complex.
Lucia Brava came along to the Cole Coatings Workshop course to learn a bit more about how to detail and polish. They do excellent work with inks to create organic celestial textures.
I think Spoon Customs works with or is a part of Gun Control who paint Wyndymilla, Spoon and private clients too. I've yet to see one of theirs in person so I can't comment.
Dave at Enigma is very talented although I'm not sure they're still there.
I don't think they'll take on any private work and if they did, you'd pay accordingly but keep an eye on Billy at Saffron. Billy came to learn to paint at Cole Coatings Workshop and the stuff coming out of Saffron Frameworks since then has been challenging but meticulous. Billy is going to have ,ore than one refinishing rosette from Bespoked before they're finished.
Thanks for reading the ramble... I recommend Paul 'cause I work with them at Quinntessential but there are plenty of others to think about.