How to Paint Your Motorcycle for the Beginner

by Justin Wash

A new paint job is one of the most effective ways to bolster the look of your motorcycle, but many auto-body and motorcycle shops will charge a hefty price for such alterations. Save money and have fun painting your motorcycle at home.

Preparing for Paint

Remove any parts of the motorcycle that are to be painted, using your owner's manual or a shop manual specific to your motorcycle for reference. Cover the now naked motorcycle with a tarp or cover, as the parts will be off the bike for several days during painting.

Wet sand the parts that are to be painted, using waterproof 600-grit sandpaper. Do not completely strip the parts to bare metal; rather, remove any "sheen" from the original paint. If the parts are stripped completely, a primer will need to be applied before painting.

Wash the parts thoroughly, using soap and hot water. Allow them to air dry completely. Do not dry them with a towel or rag, as this will leave lint behind that will show behind the new paint.

Painting the Parts

Shake your spray paint for two to three minutes before applying the first coat. Unless you want a matte, "rat-bike" look, use a high-gloss spray paint.

Spray a thin, even coat of paint onto each part separately. Do not worry if the original paint shows through the first few coats. Spray for evenness, not for coverage.

Spray a second coat of paint onto each part separately. Evenly coat the entire surface of the part. Allow this coat to dry overnight.

Wet sand the surface of the parts lightly with waterproof 800-grit sandpaper, after a full 12 hours of drying time. Aim only to even the finish of the paint. Do not remove paint from the parts. Allow the parts to air dry completely.

Spray a third coat of paint onto each part separately. You may spray more liberally this time, coating the entire surface evenly until the original paint no longer shows through. Allow the paint to dry for 12 hours and then wet sand with waterproof 800-grit sandpaper. If, after drying, the original color shows, you may spray more coats in a similar fashion.

Spray a thin, even coat of clear enamel over the surface of each part separately when the final coat has been sanded and allowed to dry. Allow the clear enamel to dry for 12 hours. Wet sand the clear enamel with waterproof 1000-grit sandpaper.

Spray a second layer of clear enamel. Allow the clear enamel to dry for 12 hours, then wet sand lightly with waterproof 1000-grit sandpaper. Spray more liberally on the second coat, but still as evenly as possible.

Inspect each part for dull spots or imperfections in the paint. Respray any areas needed with the same procedure. Do not rush the painting process.

Reinstall the parts onto the motorcycle, carefully, using your owner's manual or shop guide for reference.

Items you will need


About the Author

Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., Justin Wash began his professional writing career in 2004 with an online freelance copywriting business. Over the years, he has written for a myriad of clients including China-Vasion and The Executives Closet.

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