New Bike Day!

Project Echelon’s Custom Sum Design

UCI Continental team Project Echelon will have their own custom-painted Sum for the 2024 season. We had a chance to talk to Argon 18 designer Sam Clairoux and Project Echelon founder Eric Hill about the design process.

A18: Tell us how the design process started. What were the initial sources of inspiration?

Sam Clairoux: I wanted to deliver a design that would match the personality of the team. Project Echelon is a uniquely US-based UCI Continental team, and are working to raise the profile of cycling in the US. So I asked myself, what great American icon could I use as a source of inspiration? The team’s kit uses different shades of blue, giving me a defined colour palette. I went searching for American classic cars and one stood out immediately: the 66 Mustang coupe. This is a true classic when it comes to car culture, and there’s one model that uses a Britney blue base paint and a white vinyl top. That was my starting point.

“The fact that the Sum is Argon 18’s flagship road race bike also came into play during the design process. It’s a speed machine - the bike already looks fast by itself. Seeing those guys racing it always puts me in a state of awe. The speed they can achieve, and the acceleration is mind-bending. There are tiny details in the artwork that make the bike look even faster, like stripes in the logos, and lines mimicking the airflow on the fork.”

- Sam Clairoux, Graphic Designer at Argon 18

A18: Project Echelon is very driven by their mission: to educate, equip and empower veterans and their communities through physical activity and self-discovery. How did this impact the design?

“I think when a team and brand can come together and create piece of art – and this really is a piece of art – it shows the strength of the partnership, and the connection of shared values and vision. I feel like this whole process shows Argon 18’s commitment to our mission, and also their support of our commitment to product design, working with the R&D team and giving feedback on the bikes.”

- Eric Hill, Project Echelon founder

Eric Hill: Our mission statement is on the toptube of the bike, right there where it’s impossible to miss. Our riders are constantly pushing themselves, constantly experiencing adversity, and they have to be gritty and persistent. But they’re known as some of the most gritty and persistent cyclists out there because they’re doing it for something more than just themselves. I think that in the moments when they feel they can’t keep going, feel things are just too tough, they can look down and see that mission statement and suddenly reset and think, nope, it’s never too tough; I can keep going.

A18: What’s it like for the riders to see the bike for the first time?

Sam Clairoux: I am always excited in those moments, when you see the emotion on the athletes’ faces. This feeling is extremely hard to describe and is what keeps me doing what I do.

“It’s beyond Christmas, when you get something like this. There’s such a sense of pride and ownership in something that was designed and meant just for you. It gives the guys, as athletes, that next level of determination, getting on a custom machine like this.”
- Eric Hill, Project Echelon founder