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How to Paint your Bike or Bike Parts

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  • How to Paint your Bike or Bike Parts

    This is gona be a big write up, so here we go.

    How to Paint your Bike or Bike Parts

    At some point you may find that you want to change the color of your bike, or maybe you have damage caused from a fall or someone bumping into it. Well, no need to take the bike to a body shop to get repaired or repainted, because with a little time and effort, you can do it yourself.

    The paint I am using in the folowing write up is a chamelion color changing paint, and tkaes multiple coats, and is a bit more time consuming. To do a regular color would proabably be abit easier, but still, the difficulty is not anywhere near the high mark.

    What you need:

    - A partner. Weather it be Man, Woman, Or child, this will really help.

    - A Radio. Hey, you are about to spend a lot of time working on something you love, might as well listen to some good tunes!

    -A clean, uncluttered work space (Yeah Right, uncluttered about the fist hour)

    -Proper Safety equipment is a must. You may be dealing with harsh chemicals in some cases, and gloves are cheap. I do not recomend latex anything. Even if you do not have a alergic reaction, latex products WILL irritate the skin after a while. Either go with Nitrile gloves, which are much stronger than latex and powder free, or vinal gloves work well also. Also, a side note is that some gloves will not be chemical resistant for long. We used Vinal gloves, and paint stripper and paint thinner ate through them!!! If you may have a bad reaction to some of the chemicals you may use, get chemical resistant gloves. You can get boxes of the rubber (Vinal or Nitral) gloves at the painting section in Home Depot, along with the chemical resistant gloves.

    -Eye Protection. Either Clear Safety Glasses (Cheap, but trust worthy) or full face screens (Like we wore) work fine.

    - Repirators / Dust Mask. Painting will create a lot of dust as the excesss paint dries in the air. If you do not wear soemthing, you will find your nose full of paint goo. It is nasty. A dust mask would be your lowest leval of protection, but if you are only doing this once, or maybe a small project, then that would probably be the way to go. Otherwise you can get a respirator which is a rubber mask fitted around your nose and mouth. Cartradges fit to either side of the mask to filter all air coming in. Quite nice, but a bit bulky. This is the way to go for full protection. Your local hardware store or any Menards, Home Depot can help you choose your size and what cartradges to use for your projects. Also note that if you have a lot of facial hair around the area it is to seal, it may not seal properly. It will still be better than a dust mask though.

    - Fire Extinguisher. Once again, chemicals are in play, and its better to be safe then sorry.

    -Liquid Refreshment. Stay hydrated!!! Drink lots of water (And Beer if you are over the legal drinking age). Don't drink to much beer though, remember, you need to be able to concentrate somewhat, after all you are painting your baby!!!

    Ok, now the actual equipment you will be using.

    -Sandpaper. Grit size will vary depending on how much, and what type of body work you will be doing. To remove the big bumps, gouges, scrapes, we used 160 to 180 grit paper, then worked our way up from there. Emery paper is nice as well. 400 grit to wet sand (Scuff up the surace a bit so the paint/primer has something to stick to) and you may want to use all the way up to 1000 grit. The highest we used was 400 grit, and that smoothed everything out enough.

    -Distilled water to wet sand. Yeah, you could use tap water or a hose, but distilled water has all the crap out of it, and its only .53 cents at walmart for a gallon!

    -Water bottle with spray attachment on top. Used for wet sanding and spraying your partner. Can also be used to begin washing areas of your skin off incase of a chemical spill, like when your friend "Accidently" gets paint stripper on the back of your neck, and in your hair. Like I am not missing enough hair on my head anyways. Thanks Corey.

    -Heat Gun! You don't have one you say? Don't feel like spending the money to buy one??? RENT ONE! They are cheap to rent, and can be had at most rental shops and/or auto parts stores. Trust me, we used this a lot. Helps the paint to dry faster, and to set, and is great for getting sticky stuff off. Also can be used as a regular gun when posing for a picture while riding a vacum cleaner, and having your hat turned up like Robin Hood... You will see later.

    -*Paint Remover. Only if you plan on stripping paint on anything. Let me tell you, if you strip the paint, be prepared for some work ahead of you, espcially with the tank. Yeah, it looks so nice when done, but man a lot of work. There are a few types of Paint Remover. Liquid and Gel. The gel is nicer I think, because as it melts the paint off, you can scrape it back into stubborn areas. Some are even safe for plastic, but not many! The one we got came with a plastic spray bottle for free (Home Depot). I can't remember the name if it, but hey, if it can be put in a plastic spray bottle, must be safe on plastic...right?????

    -*Paint Thinner. After using the Paint Remover,you need Paint Thinner to remove the Paint Remover. It helps if you have a tool bath to let the stuff soak in, but I know not a lot of people have those.

    -Various Scrapers. These are used to remove stubborn glue, epoxy, and anyother gunk that is being a pain in the arse. Another suggestion here would be to use rubber scrapers, such as those used when doing body work, to spread bondo and stuff. They can be cut to different sizes, are strong enough to really put some elbow grease into, and make cool throwing stars to throw at your partner like a NINJA!

    Ok, now for your paint supplies.

    *If you are going to be bringing your tank, handle, or any other metal parts down to the metal surface, I suggest getting a Rustoleum Brand primer. It is supposed to help to prevent rust. Doesn't really matter what color, you are going to be painting over it anyway. I am just paranoid though, but better to be safe then sorry.

    For the Plastics.

    -Primer. Make sure you get a sandable primer. Also look for a Fill Primer. Those work well to fill little nicks and scratches. Those are also sandable. When using a fill primer, make sure to lay light coats, sand and repeat. Heavy coats are not good! If using multiple layers of Primer, you do not need to sand in between coats. Primer sticks to Primer. Doesn't matter if it is differnet brands or different colors.

    I suggest using Dupli-Color Primer and Brand paints. No, I do not work for the company, but there paints seem to be of high quality, and the tip they use on there spray cans are very nice. You get a much smoother finish out of them, better control, ect. Trust me when I say that between a Dupli-Color tim, and a regular tip can, the cances for a run will increase wuite a bit. I noticed that some of the Dupli-Color tips did seem to leak a bit around the base though (Hey, we went thorugh a ton of cans, some are bound to have problems). Easy fix, take a tip off of a used can, or even a new can. The tips come off easy, and interchange quite easy.

    -Paint. Here comes the time to choose the color of your desire.

    *Before using any new can of paint, spray off to the side to make sure the stream is spraying correct. We found one can the literaly srayed out like a watergun! Also, this helps to get the soap and stuff they use in the head and hose out so that does not mix in with the paint on your bike.

    *Before purchasing the paint, make sure to shake it well to see if it has the ball bearing in it. 2 cans that we purchased did not. Trust us, we shook, and shook, and banged, and banged, and shook some more. No Ball Bearings!

    Like I said earlier, Dupli-Color I believe is the way to go if you are going to be using can spray paint, because of the quality of there paint, and the nozzle design. Yes you can get a good paint job out of a spray can! You are only painting a bike, not a car, and many of the peices are not that big. You do not need any big compressors, no special paint guns, just old shake, rattle, and roll spray cans. Choose your color wisely!

    Get a clear coat to match the type of paint you are using. Also, many canned clear coats are not gasoline resistant. This means that if you are doing your tank, you will need to either bring it to a body shop (Macco, Abra) to get a automotive clear-coat put on it, or attempt one yourself. If only doing the tank, it really shouldn't be to expensive though. Check around to see what you can find price wise.

    -Tac Cloth. Removes stuff water and shop towels don't. Get a few of them. You can find them in single packages at walmart for like .97cents in the home painting section.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by steves; 12-19-2007, 05:45 PM. Reason: Added PDF to the writeup
    -89 Gixxer 1100 Engine
    -Stage 3 Jet Kit / KNN Pod Filters
    -Ohlins Susupension
    -Various Other Mods

  • #2
    Ok Now, here is the Picture Book Directions.

    First, make sure you have a decent work space. If working in cold weather, make sure your area is heated, and low humidity. Pull the Plane (Or car, mower, anything else) out of your area so you do not get paint dust all over it!!!

    Remove all un-neccesary clutter, your about to make a huge mess, why have the extra stuff?


    Next, you will need sticker removal stuff. Goo B Gone, Brake Cleaner, WD40, and maybe even some Carb cleaner (Harsh on paint) Also, this is where the Heat Gun begins to come into play. Low heat is plenty good for sticker removal.

    On the side farings, you have clear vinal knee guards. A little heat from the heat gun, and it should easily begin to peal either with your finger nail, or RUBBER scraper.


    Emblam Removal. This is tricker, and the easiest way you really need a second person. The pic shows the hard way, Heating it, peal a bit up, and repeat, and repaeat, a Royal PIA!!!

    Easist way (No Pic) Have a friend, loved one, or annoying in-law hold the fairing firmly. Take a thick piece of string or twine (About 18 to 24 inches long), tie either end around a screw driver or something with a handle, and put string under the emblam, now saw away! Make sure that the string does not get caught on some of the edges of the lettering. Also, some areas may be damn hard to saw through. PUT YOUR BACK INTO IT YOU WEAKLING!!! Just kiding, but really, maybe you should start working out

    After the emblam is removed, you will have some of the sticky foam tape crap left behind.

    That stuff is tuff to remove. It takes a lot of time, or some grinding. We used a variety of chemicals here to see what would remove the foam the easiest. Sprayable Carb Cleaner seemed to loosen up the glue the best, but it also weakens the paint. We really weren't to worried about it though. We were going to sand down the area, and reprime it anyway. take your time, and find what works best for you. Also, metal scrapers work a lot better here, as you can see, I can even talk on the phone while doing it!

    For the little bits of gooey stuff that remains, sand down using a fine sandpaper. You can even soften it up a bit with Goo B gone. squirt a little on the glue, and rub it in with your finger. Let it sit for a bit, and sand away!


    Now, you need to clean the hell outa the piece. Take your Brake cleaner, and hose her down. Brake cleaner removes all oil, grime, and nasty stuff. It also removes bugs good. Clean it nice and thourough. I suggest using shop towels for this part, as they don't really leave lint behind.

    Now that all stickers and gooey stuff is removed, you can begin with body repair. The previous owner of my bike had dropped it at one point, and scratched/gouged part of the fairing. Take a 160 to 180 grit sand paper, and sand down the ruff mid section as much as you can.

    Mext, round the edges with the same grit sandpaper. Once you get it to shape (Its not going to be perfect), take some of your emery cloth, and smooth it out. If you do not have emery, skip this step, and move to the next step. Get your 400 grit sandpaper, and DRY sand it to smoothness. Now its time to use that Filler Primer you bought. Lay a light coat down, and take the heat gun to it! This is where you get to use high heat. Not to close though, or the paint will boil. Heat it for a few minutes, moving it back and forth over the primed area. Let cool for a few minutes. Now WET sand with 400 grit paper. Repeat until you get the desired smoothness and fill. (You may not be able to get all scratches filled, depending on depth. That is OK!! The paint will fillthose area anyway and they shoul be small enough to where you don't notice them. Anything to big you will need to fill with scratch filler or bondo/fiberglass, and I am not going that far in depth!!!)

    Here the body is repaired, and we are heating the final repaired area to speed drying.
    -89 Gixxer 1100 Engine
    -Stage 3 Jet Kit / KNN Pod Filters
    -Ohlins Susupension
    -Various Other Mods


    • #3
      Now we are ready to begin WET Sanding.

      The whole peice needs to be wetsanded, well, the parts with no primer anyways. Remember, primer sticks to primer. We went ahead and wet sanded the whole peice anyways, just to be picky. Spray your water onto the peice so that it is running off, spray a little on your sandpaper, and go at it. The foggy section in the pic is the part that has been wet sanded, compared to what has not for your reference.

      You are only scuffing up the surface, so that the primer has something nice to stick to. Wet sanding also removes bugs and other crap that may have been imbeded and baked into the clear coat because you are to lazy to wash those hard to reach areas.

      Now after the peice is WET sanded, clean it off with water and shop towles (or lint free paper towles). After it is clean, take a Tac Cloths, and wipe the peice down again.


      Now you are ready to prime!!!! (Heat gun can be used between each coat of paint or primer to speed drying time! Just don't hold the ehad gun to close, and don't apply paint to a hot surface!

      I suggest hanging the peice if possible. If not, then laying it down, or if small enough even holding it if you can (May want to use those handy dandy gloves I was talking about). Use light coats to start with. Remember, light is good, heavy is bad. It is ok to be able to see the orignal paint underneath your first or even second coat. You are building up the layers to get a nice smooth finish. Take your time and don't get any runs. To speed up the drying process,use your heat gun (High setting), about 12 inches away from the surface, and dry it with a sweeping motion. Remeber to let the plastic cool before going onto your next coat. Not sure if it is cool enough? Touch the back of the peice you are working on to check the temp of the plastic.

      Here is our finished piece, all primed and just drying. Now, what can you do while letting the paint dry? I know!


      Now we can start with our base coat. Please note that not all paints need a base coat, your primer would be your base coat. The Color-Changing paint that I used (By Dupli-Color of course) requires a base coat for the pigment to show.

      We first apply a light coat to the primer (remember, primer sticks to primer)

      Also note that you can still see the grey in some spots. Thats OK, we still have a second coat to go yet!

      After drying, you will want to go over it with a flash light to make sure that you did not miss any areas. Make sure that your coat is even, and no grey is showing! Touch up as needed.

      Now the base coat is completely done, we will let it dry and prepare for the application of the pigment (paint if not using color-changing paint)
      -89 Gixxer 1100 Engine
      -Stage 3 Jet Kit / KNN Pod Filters
      -Ohlins Susupension
      -Various Other Mods


      • #4
        Now its time for some COLOR!!!!

        The painting process goes the same as with the primer. Light coats. Make sure you are flowing with the shape of your peice as well. Don't just go back and forth robotically. Imagine you and Range are on some romatic get-away, and you two are dancing to some romantic music (or don't, I just figured I would share my fantasy) Move with the contours of your peice. Also, for fairing holes, you may need to go to the back of the fairing and spray through it to get a even coat. Also, if doing the fuel switch hole, don't overspray in there!!!! You will get a run, trust me, I did. It will get all the paint it needs when moving back and forth to the music... with Range... Ok, scratch that last part.

        This fist coat is a very light coat. This pigment requires you to lightly build it up with layers. The more layers, the more drastic the color change. We did 6 layers on every peice we painted.

        Second Coat

        Third Coat

        Fourth Coat

        FIF Coat.... Almost there!

        And there we go!

        At this point, as the paint dries, it looks a little matte. Not to worry, that is what the clear coat is for! Once the paint is COMPLETLY DRY, you can start to apply the clear coat. A light even coat should go on first. After that is dry (Think Heat Gun to spead it up), begin the second layer of clear coat. This needs to go on a bit thicker, meaning slower movements, and holding the can a bit closer. Remember, take your time, and not to heavy of a coat, or you will get a run!
        -89 Gixxer 1100 Engine
        -Stage 3 Jet Kit / KNN Pod Filters
        -Ohlins Susupension
        -Various Other Mods


        • #5
          Next we did the tank. That was a beast of a job. It was also our own fault taht it was a beast of a job. I decided that I wanted the words "Suzuki" off my tank. Well, they were clearcoated on. So we decided to use POWER TOOLS!

          That got it off in a hurry.

          You don't really need to do it, I just wanted to, because I am a NERD that way. It took us about 3 to 4 hours to completley prep the tank. So unless you are a NERD, PERFECTONIST, or just BORED, DO NOT STRIP THE TANK!. But I will tell you this. It looks DAMN GOOD! Ok, so if you are just going to Prime it and paint it, then skip ahead, or read on to see what was our hell...

          First, is the easy way to remove the paint. Paint Remover!

          This stuff works awsome.

          The Paint Stripper needs to sit for anywhere to 5 to 15 minutes to really work, so what can you do while it is sitting? Play with the Air Hose! See how it really feels to have NO mosture in your mouth!!!


          Sweet Lou! I also used the Air Hose to do my Hair!

          After sitting, we found it did take more than one coat. As you can see, there were some areas that needed a little more stripper.

          Light sanding can also remove some of the stubborn stuff.


          We also stripped the Handle with the Paint Remover

          After clean up of the handle, it is ready to prime!

          Next is the hard part. Removing the padding underneath the tank. Chemicals didn't do it, paint remover didn't do it. Power Tools did. Thank Good For Air Compressed Tools.


          After ALL Paint Stripper has been removed by a PAINT THINNER bath, you are ready to wash it with water, then ready to WET Sand the metal with 400 grit paper.


          After the tank is fully WET Sanded, cleaned with water and shop towels, and then tac clothed,

          you will be ready to prime.

          Before priming though, you need to close all the holes on your tank!!! Use either Painters Tape, or Masking tape.

          Don't forget to close off the little fuel line nipple!


          Now comes the EASY PART! PAINTING!

          Get all your gear on

          And Get'r Done!!!!

          I first laid down a layer of Rustoleum Primer on both the handle and the tank. I then layed down a layer of the Filler Primer, just to make sure my finish was nice and smooth. From there, paint away. If using a regular paint. Follow the directions onthe can with howemany coats to go with. Me, I had to do the layer, by layer, by layer, by layer... you get the point, but let me tell you, the finish product was worth it.

          It looks so much better in person, the picture does it no justice. A lot of work, and well worth it if you ask me.
          -89 Gixxer 1100 Engine
          -Stage 3 Jet Kit / KNN Pod Filters
          -Ohlins Susupension
          -Various Other Mods


          • #6
            Well, now that you know how to paint your plastics, and your metals, I hope you get to Modding your bike soon! Remember, proper safety gear is important. Corey and myself are professional idiots though, so we did not always wear our resporators and dust masks. Now our noses leak pretty colors!

            If you have any questions about painting or fixing minor scuffs and scrapes, feel free to PM me. Cyber Poet and Special K are also a wealth of knowledge, but they are not as photogenic.

            The most important thing to remember is.....

            Have Fun!!!!

            Don't rush, and call your girlfriend to help clean the Hanger!!!!

            Oh, don't sweep until all peices are dry, or else dust will settle in the paint or clearcoat!!!!! Tac clothes are a good way to remove the stuff though!

            Have Fun, Be Safe, and ENJOY!

            For all 2 days worth of Pictures from this project, visit:
            Click on the Album titled "Painting"

            Almost Forgot, Big Thanks to Dennis Wilson for hosting all my beautiful Pictures!!!!
            -89 Gixxer 1100 Engine
            -Stage 3 Jet Kit / KNN Pod Filters
            -Ohlins Susupension
            -Various Other Mods


            • #7
              Professional idiots you say. Hmmm I might just qualify for this mod with a little more training.

              Great How-To I see an earlier spring paint job in my future.
              '92 Kat restoration/mod project


              • #8
                That was fantastic, Thanks much for the, how do you say, slightly IN DEPTH explanation!!!!

                But how's about all together now?


                • #9
                  Amazing post SweetLou. Well done.
                  fulcrum (aka David)
                  Blue 2004 GSX750F
                  Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.--Isaac Asimov
                  If you can keep your head, while all around you are losing theirs, then you probably aren't grasping the situation

                  Crash virginity lost: March 6th 2005


                  • #10
                    Very nice write-up! Thanks for putting the time in to do it.

                    BTW, I really think you need to make this your avatar...too funny, I do it all the time

                    Welcome to! Click here to register


                    • #11
                      excellent.. I do have a couple things to add though...

                      A good degreaser is needed as well .. I use one before I start painting and also a tack cloth. Eastwood makes a chemical called Paint Prep that comes in a spray that is awesome for prepping paint. They also make a quality kick the paint in the butt stripper. If you do decided to use a stripper make sure you READ THE INSTRUCTIONS some are not safe for plastics.. NEVER use gas on plastic for stripping paint it will melt the plastic. If you do use a stripper wash the part thoroughly BEFORE yous tart painting. If you leave any residue (even ones that you can't see) your paint will not last long and all your hard work will be for not.

                      Also while you ahve to plastics off it is a good time to do some other mods or engine tune ups. If your gas tank is old and metal you can even think about prepping and sealing the inside of the tank. Eastwood makes a great product for that and I have used it before on my camaro's gas tank with MUCH success..

                      Great write up sweetlou...
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                      • #12
                        Excellent post and thanks for taking the time to do that. This is the kind of stuff that people want to see.
                        Suzuki Katana: The best underated motersicle in da woild


                        • #13
                          Is the bike back together? Let's see a pic.


                          • #14
                            Someone should sticky this or add a faq/mods and sticky it there along with the how to put a gixxer motor in your kat thread and others, IE.. biggest tire? etc...


                            • #15
                              nice write up, can't wait to see it together
                              92 Katana 600 Project bike
                              Some assembly required is my middle name!!!