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Cycling Lifestyle Photos by Chris Wimpey©

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Joe Bell Wants Your Bike to Shine

JB Smiles for this Bicycling.com magazine feature.

Bell, who has been plying his craft since 1979, painted 150 bikes last year. PHOTO BRIAN VERNOR

In junior college, I found Casa de Oro Cycles. Bill Holland taught me how to paint the right way. I figured when there were no more bikes, I'd look for a job or go back to school. But the bikes just kept coming.

It takes five to six hours for a simple job. I've had others that take 40. I do what it takes to make it right.

People e-mail me pictures of bikes they like. Sometimes they send me an object and ask if I can match it. I've gotten model cars, rugby jerseys.

In a quality paint job, you look at the clearcoat. That's the thing everyone notices. If it's a single color, you look at the consistency of the color and that it's not built up around the lugs. Clean work is the hallmark of a good painter.

I look at the shorelines of the lugs. I look at the metalwork, how the dropouts are joined. But it's not my job to critique. I'm the hairdresser.

I like modern bicycles. But when I see a well-kept Rene Herse or Masi Gran Criterium, I linger a little longer.

When you put your bike away wet, that takes its toll. Wipe your bike down. Use a clean, soft T-shirt. lemon Pledge is great. It cleans and leaves a little film so that water beads up.

I still like fades [when adjacent colors appear to blend into each other]. They'll probably come back in style.

I'll do a really nice pearl and take it outside to admire in the sun. Then I say, great, put it in the box and ship it.

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