Velocolour fork geometric paint detail

Behind the Curtain: Velocolour

Repair all the things (and make them pretty while you’re at it, too).

James Huang
by James Huang 14.05.2024 Photography by
James Huang
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My first encounter with custom paint shop Velocolour came at a low-key industry event in 2015 somewhere in the middle-of-nowhere, Virginia. It was called Baller’s Ride, organized by NixFrixShun founder Josh Simonds, and intended to be a mixed-terrain meeting of the minds of sorts: a diverse gathering of folks that included custom framebuilders, small component and accessory brands, associated retailers, and so on (somehow I got invited too). 

Most of the attendees were on custom machines they’d crafted themselves given the then-unusual mixed-terrain format, not to mention the fact we’d be spending most of the time outside of cell range. This was before “gravel” was a thing, after all, so off-the-shelf options were few and far between. But this one fellow was on an old Olmo steel rig that he had no troubles keeping up on despite the fact it didn’t exactly seem particularly well-suited for the mission at hand. The bike was old, but also beautiful, with the patina of a machine that was simultaneously well-loved and well-used. As I came to eventually find out, the bike’s owner was Noah Rosen, and the reason that Olmo was such an impressive specimen was because he was a specialist in restorations, operating out of a small facility in Toronto, Canada. 

It was the first time we’d met, and I’m happy to say it wasn’t the last. 

I’d later see Rosen – and Velocolour co-owner Suzanne Carlsen – regularly on the custom bike show circuit at events like NAHBS and the Philly Bike Expo, and I never failed to be blown away by the samples of their work they brought with them. In fact, I have a board I maintain on my Instagram account filled with nothing but custom-painted bikes because of them, with the hopes of one day drawing inspiration from those images and indulging myself in a custom finish of my own.

I’ve had the luxury of watching Rosen and Carlsen develop the business of Velocolour since then from afar, but it was only recently I was finally able to pay them a visit in person. The paint shop stuff I was completely prepared for: the plotter cutter, color samples everywhere, design sketches, mixing tables, spray guns, paint booths, you name it. And there certainly was no shortage of eye candy both in progress and hanging on the walls. But the other stuff? Not so much.

Velocolour Rocket Pocket colors

Velocolour has become much more than just a custom paint and restoration shop, expanding into a curiously diverse operation with a common theme: be mindful of your consumption, love what you do consume, and do whatever you can to keep those things in good working order so you can enjoy them for years to come. 

For example, the Canadian brand has its own range of soft goods – saddle packs, tool rolls, rack top bags, musettes, and so on. They’re made entirely in house by a local craftsman who apparently transferred his talents over from costume design, and often using salvaged fabrics that not only lend a unique style, but keep those materials out of the landfill. The items in the soft goods collection are far from inexpensive – the Rocket Pocket saddle pack is a substantial US$62, for example – but Rosen and Carlsen feel it’s important that they’re made to last, manufactured locally, and thoughtfully designed such that people don’t feel the need to “upgrade” to something else sooner than later. They seem to be on to something, too, given how the design has since been “borrowed” by more than a few well-known brands.

Velocolour went further into the soft goods rabbit hole by launching into clothing repair, covering everything from a blown stitch on a jersey, replacing entire panels in a pair of bibs that were shredded in a crash, and even shortening tights that otherwise fit aside from being a tad too long. The goal here is for the garment to be returned as close to original condition as possible, and the company is now even working directly with some clothing brands – such as Velocio – to ensure OEM fabrics are on hand for repairs. More recently, Velocolour has expanded even further on the repair theme, branching out into carbon fiber frame repair. 

Despite the steady expansions, Velocolour is still a tiny operation. There’s Rosen and Carlsen, soft goods master Perseus Rebelo, and painter Elodie Feugeade – and that’s about it.

“We’ve had slow enough growth over the last 15 years that it’s been nice and steady,” Carlsen told me during my visit. “I think if you’d asked Noah in 2008 if Velocolour would have all of these things, he would have laughed at you. The motivation has definitely been on the repair side, keeping things out of landfills and giving people options to fix things. And that’s definitely been with, probably since 2016 or 2017, really looking at the climate. Realistically, if all we’re doing is high-end custom paint and shipping bikes to California, like, is that still going to be a business in 2025? If California is on fire, are people still going to be thinking about that? It’s a way for us to contribute.”

Well said, Suzanne. Well said. 

If you want to check out more of Velocolour’s work, a good place to do so would be the company’s Instagram account. Fair warning, though: it won’t be a quick visit.

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