Scores of people flocked to the ASI/Kestrel Interbike booth to catch a glimpse of the bike everyone was talking about, the bike so striking photographers couldn't stay away: Pip Taylor's custom-painted Kestrel 4000.
Embellished with glimmering gold graffiti paint strokes atop an iridescent black base coat that, in the light, refracts every color in the spectrum, Pip's 4000 is a true work of art.
Earlier in the season, Kestrel Brand Manager Steve Harad approached sponsored triathlete Pip Taylor about pursuing a "different" project and using the 4000 - Kestrel's flagship, A2 Wind Tunnel-designed, all-carbon aero bike, as a canvas.
"As a professional athlete, you get to do some pretty cool things - and the opportunity to have a custom-painted bike is not something I'm going to turn down!" joked Pip. "Working with Kestrel and Steve is great. If we can leverage exposure for the brand and have some fun with it at the same time, I am all for it. Plus, I like bringing something new to the sport, something that breaks with the stereotypical view of triathlon yet stays true to the sport always being forward-thinking."
Pip and her team got to work on a concept.
"We wanted to take a new approach to traditional 'custom' paint jobs, bringing both an element of fun, as well as modern urban elements to what is a high-tech canvas," explained Pip of her vision for the project.
Then began the research. Where could they find someone who could bring the unique urban style to the table but also have experience with bikes?
Enter Ube Urban, the creative genius behind Ube's Icecream Shop, a San Francisco-based international design firm specializing in custom paint jobs - especially bike frames.
"I'll give anything that has a surface a try," explained Ube. "I customize my client's passion. And it's not the obvious that I'm interested in. It's what's below the surface. I capture my client's mannerisms. I listen to the music they like."
It was Ube's distinctive graffiti style that caught the eye of Pip. She reached out to him, communicated her vision, and the rest is history.
"It was clear that Ube had the skills we needed. What was fun was convincing him he could absolutely go to town on this project and take the graffiti element further than he had on any other bike," explained Pip.
It started with multiple concept sketches and feedback strings regarding colors, effects, and graffiti styles. Ultimately, the parties decided on a black background with gold graffiti.
"It's a strong contrast, and it also allowed Ube to bring in the multi-color effect to the base color and clear coat, which is really what sets everything off. Strangely, we also settled on the gold with black in that it remained restrained in some aspects, matching the rest of the build kit and serving as a contrast to my bright race suits," said Pip.
"An extremely flamboyant design doesn't make sense when it's always in motion," Ube explained of the bike he knew Pip would race. "So we went with the simplicity of black and gold. But I said to myself, 'I'll make the best black that I can.' When it's at rest, it's pure beauty and awe-inspiring."
It took approximately three 2-hour grafitti sessions - meticulous sessions devoted to a different region of the frame each time - to complete the work of art because as Ube explains, "I took it to the next level, canvassing every nook and cranny."
Pip couldn't be happier with the final product. "I love the way it balances being over-the-top glam and industrial/urban at the same time."
"I'm ecstatic about how it turned out," said Ube. "The public response has been that they really appreciate the amount of work and effort that went into it."
Based on the number of people surrounding the glimmering gold 4000 at Interbike, they surely do.
Watch Ube at work on Pip's 4000 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLltPQbahr4