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Anodized Titanium Bicycles

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Leni Fried Designs has done titanium anodizing on bicycles longer than anyone. Her background as a printmaker makes her highly suited for anodizing Like printmaking, anodizing combines the vision of an artist with the skill of a technician.It uses electricity, masking, metal finishing, bead blasting, and polishing all to create imagery and color on a bike frame. Leni is also a specialist in metal finishing as she was the first finisher at Merlin Metalworks in 1986 and helped to develop and perfect the scotchbrite finish they still use today.

1. What is titanium anodizing?

Anodizing is an electrical process that has been used in the jewelry business for years.The colors can only be produced on what are called ‘reactive metals’.These metals are titanium, niobium and tantalum.These particular metals when hooked up to an electric power source and a conducter will grow a thin film or oxide on the surface.When you look through this oxide you will see a color. As you apply more electricity the oxide grows thicker and other colors are produced. The range of colors are directly a property of the metal itself and how it is cleaned and finished. For example 6/4 titanium will naturally produce a wider spectrum of color than the more common 3/2.5 . Although 3/2.5 can produce this wider spectrum when cleaned properly.

2. Can the anodized colors fade?
The colors one sees from anodizing cannot fade. They are a product of electricity and light that reflects the colors off the bike surface, similar towhat you see when oil floats on water. They are not a dye or a pigment.

3. Can you anodize my aluminum bike?
The word anodize is a loosely used term and therefore creates confusion.There is a world of differance between aluminum anodizing and the anodizing done on ‘reactive’ metals. Although aluminum anodizing uses electricity as part of the process the colors produced are dyes and are not a product of the electrical wave. Aluminum anodized bikes have a color that is perfectly smooth and flawless over a large area. If one looks closely at an anodized titanium frame one will actually see a somewhat more ‘mottled’ color because it is the direct representation of an electrical pulsation or wavelength.

4. Can you anodize my entire bike blue?
I don’t recommend anodizing a frame with just a single color. Because of the mottled quality of titanium anodized color over a large area, I find the effect to be too subtle. I usually recommend doing a series of fades, patterns, images and graphics so the frame has more contrast and areas of interest.

5. Can you anodize my bike red?
No. There is no red in titanium anodizing. The colors are very specific. Each one corresponds to its own voltage. The lowest voltage color is gold. After that is purple,then dark blue,light blue, clear, yellow, pink and chartreuse green. As you go up in voltage you go down in surface area.In other words it’s easier to make the whole bike gold then it is to make it pink.

6. Can you make my bike pink?
Maybe.If you want the higher voltage colors such as yellow, pink and green they will be more expensive.They require a separate cleaning process that isn’t as much fun...If you are lucky enough to have a 6/4 titanium bike (decorative grade) then you can get the high voltage colors without the added expense.

7. What is the best surface finish for you to work on?
The best finish is either scotchbrite or polish. Glass bead is the worst.The colors of anodizing are limited & subtle to begin with,and very surface dependent. When anodizing on top of a glass beaded surface the color reflects less off the surface and appears less bright. The problem with anodizing over a polished frame is that in certain lights you won’t see the color and in other light the color will be brilliant. To resolve this lighting issue I combine polished areas with glass beaded areas on the frame so that when I anodize on top of these surfaces the color will reflect in every light.

8. Can you refinish my titanium frame?
One of the great benefits of titanium is its’ long lifespan. Even if your frame has been glassbeaded which is the most common finish for titanium bike frames I can polish this out and transform it from that dull off the shelf gray.

9. How durable is titanium anodizing?
Although titanium anodizing is a very thin oxide layer it is as hard as titanium itself. So in that sense it is as durable as a painted frame and a little more so since the color cannot chip or fade. But it is subject to abrasion.The areas where cables rub or a bag is strapped will eventually wear away the color. I can always bead blast those trouble spots. In general I would concude that an anodized frame has a similar lifespan to paint and is easier and more environmentally friendly to refinish.

10. How do I take care of my anodized finish?
I really sell Windex in my spare time! When your frame looks kind of dull it’s amazing what happens when you wipe it down with a little Windex and a soft paper towel The oil from your fingers will create a film over the color and make it look dull.

11. How much will it cost to do my frame?
In general prices have ranged from $1000- $8000-. There really is no upper limit. Basically when you pay more money you get more time. All jobs require a combination of research, design time, decal work , masking, blasting and anodizing. All prices are set and confirmed when you place your order. Since each job is unique, I often give a price range and we go from there. As I do the frame I may want to go in a direction I hadn’t predicted, but will take more time than what we originally discussed. If this happens I will call the customer and present those new options before going forward. There is a $1000- minimum for bicycle art.

12. What are some of the different jobs that you have done?
The most straight forward and simplest job is what I call decal replacement. This means that I strip all the plastic decals off your frame and have those same logos scanned and computer cut out of a special vinyl. I use these vinyls as masks for the anodizing and can anodize the graphics right onto the frame. This looks really slick and transforms the frame. Other anodizations include: Slickrock arches and mountains, stars and planets,flames, geometric patterns, camo/ano, wheres Waldo?, M.C. Escher, monkeys, dogs I have known, Owls, petroglyphs, etc.

13. Can you do any brand of titanium frame?
I am a free agent. I work for myself, not any specific company, so any brand is fine.

14. How long will it take?
This depends on how busy I am. If it’s just a stem or a seat post these small jobs can be really fast especially if there are no logos,since I can do everything in house. W’ell discuss the time frame when you are ready to send your frame and initial deposit.

15. I’m totally psyched!! How do I order?
Fill out the questionaire below and give Leni a call!! Call (413) 634-5591 or write her to send you photos.

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