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The Sunset Hardtail by Bender Bikes

Bender Bikes ran by Will Bender from Fort Collins, CO, has been producing some drop-dead gorgeous bikes since 2020. Last summer, Will shared photos of an ice-cream colored bike that took the internet by storm. Recently, he finished a new machine that takes the colorful concept even further: the Sunset Hardtail.

The Sunset Hardtail by Bender Bikes

Bender Bikes is a small but mighty bike company founded by Will Bender, a bike builder hailing from Fort Collins, Colorado. I've been following Will's work for the past couple of years and am constantly impressed by the clean and modern designs he puts out. One thing that clearly sets Bender Bikes apart from other builders is Will's creative use of color.

Will comes from a design and architectural background and approaches his craft with a unique perspective. Instead of sticking to traditional designs and color schemes, Will finds inspiration in different ways. For example, his first eye-catching bike, the Sherbet bike broke cycling-Instagram and made many of us reconsider all the dark, bland machines we have been riding.

His latest creation, the Sunset Hardtail, built for his customer Michael Kim, takes this to the next level with a tri-tone fade and spectacularly colored Paul and 5Dev components that complement the whole thing. The result is something that we have never really seen before and something that would stand out no matter where you ride. Swoon.

Photos by Embry Rucker. Build video by Velohangar.

First the Sherbert bike and now the Sunset. Where do you find your color inspiration?

My color inspiration comes from lots of different places. I would say the most common things I look at are vintage cars, art, architecture, and fashion. Even with the abundance of info and images on the internet, I like to go to old-school sources like books. However, a lot of the time, my clients also bring their own ideas and colors as well. This gives us a great place to start on a collaborative design.

This bike was a collaborative effort between my customer, Michael and I. Michael had already purchased some of the blue and purple parts, so I thought that it would be a great idea to compliment those colors. Michael also really liked the peachy color and wanted to try and incorporate that color, so it naturally progressed into the 3 color fade. On top of that, we add the cream speckle. This is an effect I have done on a few frames now, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

The bike seems loud and subtle at the same time. How is that possible?

The colors are bold, but they complement each other, creating a more subtle overall effect. Additionally, using parts that match the colorway of the frame helps blend the whole bike together.

Do you do your own color?

I do all my own designs and colorways, but I don't physically paint them. All my bikes are painted by Flux Customs in Denver, CO. Chris has been an excellent person to work with and is a super-talented painter.

There's a beautiful bike under all that fade too...

Thanks! For me, the goal with every bike I build is not only to create something beautiful, but also something functional, versatile, and built to last. A well-designed bike should not only look great, but should perform well under a wide range of conditions, and stand the test of time.

Beyond color, what makes Bender stand out?

When it comes to building bikes, my philosophy is about combining form and function in a way that truly stands out. Each bike I create is carefully crafted to fit its rider, with a focus on enhancing the overall riding experience. But for me, building a custom bike is about more than just the final product itself. It's about creating a seamless, enjoyable, and educational process for every customer.

That's why I put a lot of thought into the "Bender experience." From the initial consultation to the final touches on the build, I want my customers to feel involved and invested in the process every step of the way. Whether you're an experienced cyclist or a complete novice, my goal is to make the process easy, fun, and informative for everyone.

What is happening with that chainstay yoke?

I have designed and printed yokes for all of my mountain bikes, and I have also created a custom yoke for my gravel bikes. The goal of these yokes is to seamlessly blend into the frame and almost appear yoke-free. By utilizing 3D printing technology, I am able to achieve a greater degree of customization and flexibility in my builds, resulting in a more polished and cohesive finish. By paying close attention to even the smallest details of my designs, I am able to create bikes that not only look stunning but also perform at the highest level possible.

Why do so many great builders seem to come from Fort Collins, CO?

As many people have said, there is something in the water. Fort Collins has both thriving cycling and art cultures which creates a perfect breeding ground for frame builders. As a builder here, it feels very special to be surrounded by so many people who appreciate both the art and function of my craft.

Any plans for more colorful creations in the works?

Always! The paint design and colorway is one of my favorite parts of the process, and something I love helping customers with. I'm thankful to all my customers who give me some creative freedom with their bikes.

Thanks, Will.

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