Designing a New Bike Colorway

Curious about what it takes to choose new colors for a bike?  We sat down with our Senior Graphic Designer, Nate Adams, to discuss how he comes up with new colors and designs for all of our bikes.

Where do you start when you first begin a new color scheme for a bike?

The first step is wrapping my head around what colorways are going to be in our lineup at the release date of the new project. I use a production colorway plan to see the whole lineup. From there I will start creating mood boards and get some themes going.

How many different color designs do you typically create for one bike? How long does the process of take, from design to seeing it on a new bike?  

If there is not going to be a physical change to the frame and we just want to freshen up the bike then we usually keep the graphics the same and dive straight into color. If we are changing the frame’s layup then we go for completely new graphics and color. Lead time from submitting art to our factory and the bikes landing in our warehouse is generally 75 to 120 days.

New bike color

Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have a normal “creative process” or do you get inspired on a whim and just go with the flow?

I pull ideas from many places. Sometimes something will catch my eye from the ski/snowboard industry or I’ll see a really cool new truck color. The most fun and rewarding source of inspiration come from travel and the natural world. For instance, when I was in Mexico last week, I caught a mahi-mahi fish and the way the yellow and green blazed in the sun was stunning! I love seeing how different colors play off each other. 

If you could have a custom, one-off bike, what would it be and look like?

I already made it… it’s the new Camo RIP 9 RDO which also happens to be available to everyone else as well haha! I have always been a fan of chartreuse but you can’t beat a badass black bike… A Rainbow Trout themed bike could be cool!

Things you avoid with colors?

It is impossible to foresee what our fellow bike manufacturers are going to come up with due to the lead time in production but we try to avoid similar colorways that are already out in the marketplace. I also try to avoid any colors that may fade or show immature wear.

Where/when did you start with design? With bike design?

I have been in love with bicycles since I was about 13. One of my first jobs in high school was powder coating the original Schwinn Homegrown frames here in Colorado. It was so fun slapping all the bass boat metal flake brilliance on their frames and I was able to paint myself some custom bikes to ride and race on as well. From there I continued to race bikes while attending Colorado State University. I graduating with a Bachelors in Graphic Design. When Niner moved to Fort Collins, it seemed like a natural fit for me and the rest is history.  

What are things that you’ve learned about design since working with Niner?

Taste in color is very subjective. One person may see lemon yellow as lemonade while another may be reminded of urine… haha. I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s good to have a little tough skin as not everyone will like the colors choices made.

The bike you’re most proud of?

The 2016 RLT 9 RDO was my first project at Niner. It is still one of my favorites for sure.