If you are looking for a repainted bike, I recommend that you specifically seek out an 'endangered' bike (either one that's already been ruined by a repaint, or has serious rust issues, serious chrome or damage issues, etc.)
In my opinion, there is no sin in repainting production bikes like Colnagos because there will be a zillion of these bikes floating around for the next 25 years.
Before the repaint, take photographs. This can be used to justify your repaint to the new buyer.
In my case I decided to do two of the exact same bikes at the same time, because I was going to need to make some custom decals. Check with experienced painters (Brian Baylis, Joe Bell, etc.) BEFORE you decide that a reproduction decal is needed. It makes little sense to go through a great struggle to make art for a single frameset, or if good reproduction art is already available.
Here was my experience with doing 3x reproduction decals.
1. I did my own art for a top-tube name / logo decal, from cut vinyl. I did this specifically to get the raised-letter look-and-feel of the original bike. The original was a transfer, and the reproduction has been clearcoated and can be instantly recognized as a reproduction by someone who knows the decal technology for an original bike. However, this decal is a 99.999% dead ringer for the original decal. If it were reproduced as a transfer with silkscreen, it would be undetectable.
2. I did my own art for a near-the-seat 'Made in England' decal. Like most 1970's decals, the logo was outlined in black (this is done to hide alignment errors in the silk screening process). However, the weight of the outline and shape of the outline was not uniform across the decal, so mine is decidedly 'not original'. This was my first try and next time I'd learn to use the intersection operators in the graphics package IN ADVANCE. if you put the original and reproduction decal side-by-side. It looks original from 4 ft, but not original from 12 inches.
3. I did my own 1974 square 'Reynolds 531 Throughout' decal. To this day I'm probably the only guy making these square decals. I started with a NOS square decal. I was lucky to get one of these decals, they are so rare, I got by mistake, actually, I thought it was the 1976 decal when I put in my ebay bid.
HOWEVER, the particular NOS instance I got had VERY heavyweight letters (maybe at the end of a silk screen run), and the postscript rasterization made my artwork even heavier, and of course the gold and greens are slightly off at certain angles. So, the reproduction decal looks non-original, even though it's probably one of the best Reynolds 531 reproductions ever produced ~ the problem was, the original had sub-millimeter artwork drift, and the reproduction had sub-millimeter artwork drift.
In this photograph the decals are tilted to get the colors as close as possible :
If you are going to make reproduction decals, I suggest :
1. Find a bureau to print your decals BEFORE you start. 2. Where possible, obtain and scan original artwork BEFORE you start. 3. If not possible, photograph/measure on-bike art BEFORE you start. 4. tape graph paper around the original art to get the scales right. 5. Use Adobe Illustrator (30-day eval copy is o.k.) or MS-Visio. 6. Print to PDF or Postscript for submission to the bureau, and to have a long-term archival copy of the decal.
If you are happy with the results then you can make and sell extra copies to defray the costs of the decal production run and to help other people. I sold about 30x reproductions of (2) and (3) above, to help offset the production costs and support my hobby. I will ONLY sell a decal if I can happily put my reprouction decal RIGHT NEXT TO the original in an ebay listing photograph.
- Don Gillies
San Diego, CA, USA