Sunday, January 23, 2011

Superba Colour and Other Decisions: Your Feedback Welcome!


I will soon need to make a decision on the colour for the Bella Ciao "Superba" and would like to know what you think. I realise that the usefulness of asking this question is limited, as the persons answering might not be the ones considering buying the bicycle. But I think it's still helpful to me. The Superba is not meant as an overall crowd pleaser (that's an impossible task anyway!), but as something that will reflect my design aesthetic and will appeal to those who share it. Keeping that in mind, please feel free to let me know which, if any, of the above colour families you prefer [poll now closed]:


It will probably come as no surprise that I am leaning toward the greens. It's hard to get a good idea of a colour by looking at a small swatch on a computer screen, but the "pale sage" I am considering would be a more vibrant, less military version of the colour of my bike. A fresh, airy, Spring green. The "deep sage" would be a slightly darker, and also a bit more vibrant, version of the colour of my bike. The "mauve," "periwinkle," and "slate" would all be very subdued colours, close to gray. And of course, picture each colour choice paired with cream tires.

The other question I want to ask, has to do with a possibility of a gentleman's Superba - and I call them lady's and gentleman's, because that is what the frames are called in Italian, not because I am sexist! But anyhow, there have been some comments and emails from male readers expressing interest, so I've thought about it. But here are my concerns: First, despite the comments I am just not sure that the demand is there. And it's trickier to order the diamond frames, because they are available in four sizes (measured c-t). But the bigger issue, is that I have never ridden a diamond frame Bella Ciao, and therefore cannot make any endorsements regarding how it handles. It looks lovely, but nonetheless I have never ridden one or even examined one in person. So, keeping that bit in mind, do you still think a gentlemen's Superba is a good idea [poll now closed]?


My own inclination is to recommend that Harris Cyclery orders a couple of standard (non-Superba) Bella Ciao "Corvo Citta" Uomo bicycles first, so that either I or the Co-Habitant can ride them and form an impression of how they handle. But it will be nice to see what you think. Thanks in advance for the feedback on both questions, and please feel free to elaborate in the comments.

64 comments:

  1. I find myself torn between both greens and the slate. I'm a sucker for anything green though. I think that I would vote for the Deep Sage. Maybe the Slate for the Gents?

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  2. My apologies all - The initial poll software I used developed a glitch and made the entire site unaccessible. There were only 13 votes before the downtime, so not too big of a deal. But please re-enter your vote if you've already voted using the original mechanism (this would be before 10:45am).

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  3. Greens can be lovely, but I'm always a sucker for a creamy vanilla color.

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  4. I favor the more saturated colors. It would be interesting to "try them on" the bike. Is there anyway you could photoshop it?

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  5. April - I considered a buttercream sort of colour, but ultimately decided to exclude it, as it would look weird with cream tires. Also, there are several other manufacturers making cream and white bikes, and I wanted this one to be something more unusual.

    Anne - I could photoshop it on a BW picture of the actual bike, but I feel that it would be misleading. The colours never look representative when displayed in that manner. At least this way, the viewer can use their imagination...

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  6. My bike is pale sage and it's lovely colour. My favourite colour of all is purple (I'm wearing a jumper in the mauve shade right now).

    Glad you didn't have pink as an option - the local bikeshop tried to persuade me to get a pink Pashley (my handbag is a Cambridge Satchel Company satchel in pink so I think they thought I was a "pink girl"). I like a bit of pink, but only "a bit", I don't like feeling like a fullsize Barbie doll.

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  7. All of the color choices are gorgeous. I voted for periwinkle, but then when I read the text below the poll, the description of sage green sounded the best, especially with cream tires. I'm sure whatever you decided on will be lovely.

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  8. I voted for anything other than green. I LOVE the pale mint, such as on my Jeunet, but I have way too many green-ish bikes. I actually think the military drab green on your bella chiao is very nice and I'd choose that over light or dark sage.

    For men's bike, I voted 60cm, although 61cm c-t would be ideal (you should indicate if that's c-c or c-t). For city bikes with upright seating position, you can get away with a slightly smaller frame than on a road bike, so 60 cm would work for me. However, my vote is academic, as I wouldn't be buying one, but it would be good to know what the most popular size request is.

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  9. I actually love the idea of a mauve bike. You don't see that too often and I think that it would be subtle and lovely. But I agree with Dottie. Whatever the result, it is going to be lovely.

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  10. somervillain - I meant what colour you think is best for this particular bike, not what colour you'd want your next bike to be : )

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  11. All of the color choices reflect the drab morticians touch to be the worst possible choices for a bicycle in urban traffic. They are even worse than basic black!!

    Why?

    They blend into the background to easily making the bike more invisible to traffic.

    Choose a bright color like a shade of yellow or red to add spark to the bike.

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  12. I'm thinking: hi-vis yellow, lime green and neon fuchsia (all on the same bike, naturally).

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  13. somervillain - I meant what colour you think is best for this particular bike, not what colour you'd want your next bike to be : )

    I know :-)

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  14. Totally understand the decision not to pair buttercream frame with cream tires. I missed the tire color in the bike description. Second vote is for the sage green.

    When are you going to make your color decision?

    BTW: I am so happy to have found your blog. I am in the market for a dutch style bike and your blog has been super informative.

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  15. All the colors are nice, I'm inclined toward green as well. Ignore the "high visibility" color guy. Bike tube frame paint has zero effect on safety.

    Probably more important than the beautiful colors you have identified, is the contrasting colors. Creamy tires are a big part. Stickers, saddle, grips, components. These will make or break the scheme of the bikes appearance.

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  16. I like the light grey-purple of the periwinkle. But I think any of the colors would work really nicely. The pale sage above seems too yellow to me, but I understand I am looking at an internet swatch and not the actual color of the paint, which I imagine would be a little more grey in person.

    I would be afraid of being irritating to drivers if I had a "high-visibility" frame because I personally find ultra bright colors abrasive and unpleasant to look at in most contexts. That doesn't feel safe to me.

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  17. neighbourtease said...
    "I would be afraid of being irritating to drivers if I had a "high-visibility" frame because I personally find ultra bright colors abrasive and unpleasant to look at in most contexts. That doesn't feel safe to me."

    It's not about what anyone person likes or dislikes for a color. It's about basic visibility that plays by it's own rules. The whole point behind brighter colors is to make you ,and your bike, more visible ,so drivers won't hit you because they can now see you.

    You know there are times when cyclist can be their own worst enemy. :(

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  18. i think they're all lovely and i'm looking forward to this being such a successful project that we have a range of colors to choose from.

    having said that, pale sage or mauve would be most appealing to me.

    or a muted cranberry/burgundy. :)

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  19. Walt - While super bright colours may increase visibility in some contexts, they have also been shown to encourage higher speeds and reckless behaviour on the roads. This is especially so with reds and yellows, which are exciting to the nervous system and encourage loss of inhibition. Greens and neutrals, on the other hand, promote calm behaviour and clear thinking. As usual, there is more than one side to every argument.

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  20. An example of how to make your bike more visible to traffic.......
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Bright-Bike/
    http://www.brightthread.com/

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  21. Hello! Lurker, first time for a remark.

    A gents version would sure be nice and sell some, but would it not be too easy to make one just using existing frames, like a Sam H? Only thin missing would be the chaincase, but could you not persuade e.g. VO to sell a similar?

    And while you are still at it persuade them to have Panaracer make a Pasela Grey in 32mm, or Grant P a grey Jack Brown?

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  22. (Posted and lost it. Sometimes I hate Blogger. Grrr.)

    I wonder what your monitor settings are? It's tough to know exactly what the other person is seeing.

    (mine is a color temp of 6500 with RGB values of 87, 78, and 59. Sony Trinitron 21" monitor.)

    That said, I think the two greens work well, and I favor the darker one a bit. Both Herself and I would happily ride a bike with the military green you have on your personal Bella Ciao.

    I might also favor the Periwinkle, if it has equal amounts of blue and blue violet to go with the gray.
    A red-black or deep eggplant accent would work with any of these to vary color modulation.

    The idea of bringing in a few stock Corvo Citta L'Uomo bikes to gauge and garner interest is a good one, and probably less risky for Harris.
    Perhaps Bella Ciao can put a few together with your spec'd Sturmey-Archer hubs to keep apples with apples, so to speak.

    Corey K

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  23. Velouria said...
    "Walt - While super bright colours may increase visibility in some contexts, they have also been shown to encourage higher speeds and reckless behaviour on the roads. This is especially so with reds and yellows, which are exciting to the nervous system and encourage loss of inhibition. Greens and neutrals, on the other hand, promote calm behaviour and clear thinking. As usual, there is more than one side to every argument."

    No disrespect intended but this line of thinking is pure unsupported rubbish!!

    There is no evidence in any industry to support any claim made here concerning the use of bright colors other than muted colors are dangerous in other than indoor settings.

    It's your project so you paint the bike any color you choose. Just know that there are better color choices that you ignored.

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  24. sipelgas - I agree with you in the sense that it is easier to make a fast but comfy "men's bike" out of existing models than it is to do the same for a "woman's bike". That is precisely why I am so obsessed with loop frame transportation bikes per se.

    But regarding the Rivendell Sam H. in particular, I am not sure that's a good example: First off, that bike currently costs $1250 for just the frame alone, whereas a complete Bella Ciao Superba, including dynamo lighting and a rack, would be $1450-1490. That's a huge price difference. Second, the Riv frame is made for derailleur gearing, and it is awkward to adapt it to an IGH. Finally, it is not as easy as you might suppose to adapt an existing chaincase to a frame. I know many who have purchased that VO chaincase (which I think looks great) only to return it.

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  25. Walt, you exhaust me. It has been demonstrated with respect to cars, and other traffic situations. One of my university professors in grad school specialized in that research, so it most definitely exists. Look it up.

    But speaking more generally, I think it is in bad faith for you to raise the high-vis issue in almost every single post when you know in advance that our views on the matter differ, and when I have asked you to refrain from these comments. As I have said before, there are many websites where you can argue about this stuff with people who love arguing about it. Please do it there, and not here. I am asking nicely.

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  26. The studies about color and agitation that Velouria refers to are so numerous that they've been reported on not just in peer-reviewd academic journals but also in the mainstream press. This doesn't mean those studies can be directly applied to analyzing all situations, but they certainly do their part to counter the Absolute Truth you present about bright colors being the safest.

    Walt, it's very hard to respond to someone who takes his or her personal philosophy as universal truth and so I'm not ever sure how to respond to your comments here in this post, or generally. I think you might find people more amenable to your high vis philosophy if you allowed for the possibility that it's just your philosophy.

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  27. Not to belabor the point but you did ask for opinions on two specific items. As an engineer I offered you my 40+ years of experience to use or discard. So there is not one bit of bad faith involved.

    You choose to discard the advice so be it.

    But you did ask.........

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  28. My post crashed before so sorry if this is a repeat.

    Another vote for pale sage. It's light. It plays well with shiny alloy or chrome components. It plays well with leather saddles and canvas bags. And white tires. It's the most similar to color scheme you have chosen for some of your own LovelyBikes (providing an aesthetic connection for people who discover the bike through your blog). Finally, I ride a Celeste Bianchi so I am biased. The combination of light green and gleam of components makes me smile every time I see or ride the bike!

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  29. Considering the choice of tires, I prefer the darker colours - deep sage or slate being my favourites, either for the lady's or gentleman's versions and maybe even both of the same colour. For the gentleman's version black tires would be my personal preference.

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  30. Pale sage. Got to be some version of green!
    I was leaning against the gents version until I saw the number of people saying they would order one. Now, if you could get them to put some money down you should go for it.

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  31. Walt - You are clearly an intelligent person, and so I am sure you realise that this is not the type of feedback I was inviting. I respect your 40+ years of engineering experience, make no mistake about it. But it does not qualify you to argue about matters of human behaviour and perception. Please also respect my 10+ years of research in human perception and behaviour. Please also note that I am not saying "you are wrong and I am right". I am saying that "both points of view are valid, so let's agree to disagree and stop debating this here". You, on the other hand, practically accuse me of putting future cyclists in danger with the colour choice of my bike, and I think that's going too far. This is the last time I will comment on this issue.

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  32. By the way, when thinking about colors consider that the fenders/mudguards will be body colour, and the rims will be high-polished alloy. I also agree that creme tyres sometimes look weird with cream-family frames. I am generally bad at choosing among colour families, I don't know how to settle on one choice...

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  33. I voted for pale sage green (drooling). Any student discounts ;)

    *As a fellow student of psychology, I can confirm the validity of the color theory: Many studies support the idea that there are predispositions and proclivities are activated by certain colors, particularly by the color red (Elliot, Moller, Friedman, Maier, & Meinhardt, 2007).

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  34. I too have a preference for green colors. The mauve to me has the risk of appearing too purplish. The Periwinkle is nice, but in the end I decided to vote for Slate. I'm picturing the lug accenting you might choose to go with it and it's not too dark, and still soft enough to work well with the cream tires and not run the risk of clashing.

    Good luck with the selection, I'm sure whatever you choose will be perfect.

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  35. p.s. unfortunately I'm not tall enough (5' 1") to qualify for the purchase of the bike, but I'll get over it. I kid, i kid... :)

    Thanks for including us in the process.

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  36. Velouria,

    Since you are going to mount cream tires, have you considered an Oxford grey? Being male, I think of it as that shade of grey in gentlemen's suiting that marries well with British tan (or Brooks' honey if you will) cap toes - a few shades shy of charcoal but not the light sky of a rainy day in spring.

    You have got a lot of sage/green in your stable. Throw a variant in there for fun.

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  37. I voted for the 63cm size...I could probably ride the 60cm but there is a lack of decent bikes in the larger sizes. I know I have been looking! Too many manufacturers make the larger size for a year or two(if they even offer it at all), only sell a small number then drop that size because it didn't sell enough units.

    As far as the color...you are own your own. I like just about any color on a bike, including Hot Pink and Apple Green for a Brommie (yes I am seriously considering that color combination)

    Aaron

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  38. Taupe. The car I coveted in my teens until finally being able to buy one was a 1970 BMW 2002 in taupe. Boy was that a classy color…wish I had put it up on blocks and kept it instead of selling it to buy that maroon TR6 that was never as good (though convertible counts for something). Anyway! My wife always says that accessories and detail make the outfit and you want a neutral but unusual base for great accessories. That’s why taupe is the right choice . But you should include some bright colored accessory in the original build (like the original daisy in the new Bug…but less calculated and corporate) to point out the solidness of taupe. Taupe is the time is the place is the motion. Taupe is the way we are feeling. TAUPE!

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  39. Thanks for doing a vote and inviting comments, Velouria. :)

    Not to exhaust the discussion on the psychology of color, but didn't yellow and red also have to do with increasing appetite? I want an elegant, bright bike--not a McDonald's bike. ;)

    I think the pale sage is the best option up there, so if I had to vote for one, it would be that. It will look great with silver or gold colors, the brown saddle, and cream tires. It might look a bit like your custom bicycle, which really pops without being garish at all.

    The slate is a great color--perhaps for the hypothetical men's version? But back to the lady's version...

    I'm a tiny bit disappointed there isn't a soft blue, or a soft green-blue. Is she not a creature of the sky? :) Also, like Phil, I think some kind of soft grey (grigio? maybe with a hint of blue?) would look nice on this frame with the cream tires. Not to mention unusual, in a good way I think!

    Lastly [and sorry I'm going on and on], I have a deep aversion to anything purple. Total deal breaker for me.

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  40. I really love the slate blue. And if a gents version were available, hands down that would be the next bike I bought for my bf, whom has no "city bike". Poor guy, 10 bikes in the stable, and no gents city bike.

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  41. Well, I voted for mauve... I like the periwinkle as well but I thought it was maybe too similar to my other loop frame bike. Are these RAL powder coat colors? You can usually find pictures of someone's bike in any of those colors on google image search, which I think is more helpful for visualizing the result than using photoshop, so if they are RAL colors, please do divulge which numbers they are!

    I'm not much for the slate or the dark green, and I can't help but think that your male audience is out there voting for them... As expected, the pale sage seems to be pulling ahead, which would still put it the bike under consideration for me personally. IF it even would fit.

    As for yellow, I think it could be cute on a Bella Ciao in a sort of "Man in the Yellow Hat" shade, but that wouldn't be very "Velouria", and would kind of defeat the point, no?

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  42. Walt,

    It has been demonstrated in the auto industry as well as the health care industry that certain colors have a calming effect: those colors are in the pale green, pale blue, and pale yellow areas. Red is the most stimulating. It's been demonstrated in scientific studies.

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  43. I'm personally getting bit tired of green, maybe because I've been doing sage green for a while now.. I voted for slate, because it's a lovely color that it seems fresher. I'd also think that there might be a nice "french" or warm gray which would look lovely with the cream tires.

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  44. somervillain said...
    "Walt,
    It has been demonstrated in the auto industry as well as the health care industry that certain colors have a calming effect: those colors are in the pale green, pale blue, and pale yellow areas. Red is the most stimulating. It's been demonstrated in scientific studies."

    In the colors poll there is an "other" choice which I selected then explained. I can't help it that some people don't like the idea of a bright color on a bicycle.

    I don't dispute what you say I just don't agree with putting such muted colors on a bicycle when you're the smallest vehicle on the road.

    That said, If you ,or anyone else, wants a muted color fine but not me. ALL of my bikes (4) are bright yellow to be easily seen by all. Muted colors belong indoors IMO.

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  45. I think a cool charcoal would look fantastic on the men's version!

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  46. Walt - Just out of curiosity: could you share what kind of lights you use on your bike?

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  47. Velouria, an interesting color for man city bike is mate black...

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  48. Carine - I can't divulge the RAL colours I am considering, but you're right that real examples of bike pictures gives the most realistic impression. I have been able to find those for some, but not all colours I am considering. My biggest fear about the greens, is that RAL samples always tend to come across as greener than the real-life result, meaning that many of their "greens" actually look blue or teal in real life. So I may overdo it and pick a green that is too green, just to avoid it looking blue... Can you tell that this has been keeping me up at night? : ))

    Oh, and if there is a men's bike - Yeah, it won't be mauve, don't worry guys! I am thinking dark racing green, slate, or taupe.

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  49. I love the green of the vintage Raleigh sports--distinctive, with presence, deep. I don't care much for these sages and I loathe purple in all its permutations for a bicycle (and much else).

    If a "light" colour is in order, then perhaps Meetinghouse Blue (I used the California Historic Paint Colors as a basis) http://www.californiapaints.com/2colors/colorgiude.html. Watery but not too dark.

    I also think that there is room in the world for dark red cikes

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  50. Anon - I like the "Meetinghouse Blue" and it's very close to the colour I chose for my custom mixte. But I don't think it would work too well on an Italian loop-frame bike with matching fenders and chaincase. I don't know why I think that, but picturing it in this colour, it just doesn't seem right. The "deep sage" in my samples, would in real life actually be kind of close to the vintage Raleigh green, without going so far as to imitate it. It's an avocado sort of colour.

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  51. Velouria, I do not envy you. :) Finding the perfect color and then reproducing it can be difficult; for me at least.

    How does the process work? Will the paint shop give you a sample of your RAL color choices on a scrap tube of metal?

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  52. The color of one's bicycle frameis highly subjective. My thinking is, if this project is to offer a Bella Ciao in a special, limited-edition Lovely Bicycle/Velouria remix version, then it's kinda her call. Nice that she solicited our opinions, but i'm thinking it'll ultimately be one of the shades of sage.

    As far as the high-vis argument goes, i see Walt's point at its most basic level. Bright colors can be "safer" than subdued ones. And, while i have read studies concerning bright hues and their connection with human aggression, but i really don't think that applies to traffic situations much. You'll never hear a motorist explaining an accident thusly:
    "I'm sorry, officer, but i don't know what came over me! her chartreuse frameset irritated and enraged me, so i punched the gas and swerved!"

    What you *will* hear is "I'm sorry i hit that cyclist; i guess i didn't see her." And here, the high-vis folks have a point.

    However, a neon pink frame won't help a driver see you if you ride at night without sufficient lights, or if the driver is distracted with texting, or is looking down while driving b/c she's trying to extricate a dropped tictac from between the driver's seat and e-brake. Best thing to do, if you're concerned, is get some good lights, maybe use a bit of 3m reflective tape, avoid wearing dark clothing, etc. These measures go further for visibility than gaudy framesets do.

    What Velouria is trying to do is design a bike with Bella Ciao that Harris Cyclery will be trying to SELL. To ppl. The type of ppl who buy that style of bike are probably not gonna drop a bit under 2G$ for a chartreuse frameset with color-matched fenders and chaincase. The few who do might be advised to buy the thing in sage green, strip it,l and have it painted an eye-searing color, but to offer it in such a color, as-standard, would be suicidal from a business standpoint.

    just my $3.22
    rob

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  53. Walt, et al, Re: whole color visibility vs. behavioral effect of certain colors debate: there just isn't enough surface area on a bicycle frame for it to make much of a difference either way. If your bicycle is bright yellow or red that isn't really going to register with a driver nearly as much as that which dominates the visual field of a person and bicycle: the person. Both of your contrasting opinions would apply better to what a cyclist is wearing, not the color of the minimal skinny little tubes holding that person up.

    With that said, I maintain my visibility by using lights, some reflective surfaces and riding both visibly and predictably. I calm the behavior of motorists around me by riding legally, predictably and courteously. The effect of a frame being either bright yellow or midnight blue pales in comparison to those tried and tested tactics.

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  54. yen said...
    "Walt - Just out of curiosity: could you share what kind of lights you use on your bike?"-

    At the present time I use this light front & back......
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0034JTDRA/ref=oss_product

    I also use a simple Nashbar brand head light until I can design a more powerful low wattage light of my own. But I don't ride that much at night so that will take awhile.

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  55. " If your bicycle is bright yellow or red that isn't really going to register with a driver nearly as much as that which dominates the visual field of a person and bicycle: the person. Both of your contrasting opinions would apply better to what a cyclist is wearing,"

    On this we agree but it is outside of Velouria's purview so I refrain from discussing it.

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  56. : )))

    If I consider Walt's suggestions in terms of aesthetics, I actually think that a bright red or even a neon yellow bicycle could look elegant and intriguing if done right. I would love to put together such a bicycle in future, if a manufacturer gave me a task to "put together an elegant bike in a high vis colour that women would consider attractive". Yeah, i think I could do it, and I would find it interesting, too. But this particular Bella Ciao bike? It wouldn't be right for the project.

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  57. Walt, why do you run what looks like a car rear light in the front of your bike? That can confuse people at night into thinking you are traveling away from them, or are going wrong way, or who knows what. Sounds dangerous, even if done while wearing a poison yellow jumpsuit.

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  58. Please refrain from intentionally baiting Walt, it's not fair. Let's end the high-vis safety topic, from both sides of the argument. Thanks to all.

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  59. I'm sorry. I *was* a bit malicious when I asked Walt about the lights. I just knew he had substandard lights, otherwise he wouldn't be going on about hi-vis frames and clothing.

    Walt, I'll bring my (hypothetical) Lumotec Cyo with daytime running lights, Planet Bike strobe, B&M taillight, and pulsing Radbot, and you bring your hi-vis gear, and we'll talk about visibility. :)

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  60. "...Walt's suggestions in terms of aesthetics..."

    Valouria, go beyond that: strong, two or three color schemes that interact with one another in the way you see in the paintings and theoretical works of Josef Albers.

    Make one color pretend to be two colors, two colors pretend to be one color... Make the black or white or metallic surfaced components act like colors. (For isn't black the darkest neutral color?) Make a brown look a strong red, set low keyed compliments against one another so they smoulder but don't flash...

    I'm calling for the painter's sensitivity.

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  61. "MDI said...
    Walt, why do you run what looks like a car rear light in the front of your bike? "

    This one I'll respond to 'cause I feel these lights deserve a good honest consideration for all cyclist.

    The "Foxfire" light I use are sold in both Amber (front) & Red (rear). My source for these lights (kinda hard to find) is Amazon.

    I now will close the book on this tread out of respect for Velouria's wishes.

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  62. ^ Sorry, I didn't know your front was amber. I read your original comment as red both front+rear. I suppose what I said about directionality does not apply, then.

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  63. neighbourtease said...
    The pale sage above seems too yellow to me, but I understand I am looking at an internet swatch and not the actual color of the paint, which I imagine would be a little more grey in person.


    I just re-read this remark and concur. What makes the amount of yellow in that swatch more dramatic is seeing it near the edges/background color of this site, which is pretty nice actually! Talk about Josef Albers... Anyway, I get that it's the *idea* of pale sage, and not the exact color on my LCD. :o)

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