How to Put Decals on Motorcyclesby Amrita Chuasiriporn
Applying motorcycle decals yourself can save you money over having a professional do it, but ultimately, it will only be satisfying if you allow yourself time to do it slowly and carefully. You may also wish to ask a friend to help if your decals are large. Applying decals to your bike will require you to plan and prepare ahead of time, but it is not difficult as long as you take the time to do it right.
Decide where you want your decal to be placed. Place your decal there without peeling it off the backing. Use a piece or two of low-tack masking tape to hold it in place. Do not use a stronger tape than this, or you risk possibly causing damage to your paint.
Adjust the placement of your decal as needed. Once you have finalized placement, use the ruler to draw one line at the bottom and one at the top with your water-soluble pencil. Make sure to get the pencil on your bike so you can ensure proper placement once you pull the backing off the decal.
Dampen a clean, non-shedding cotton cloth with soapy water and thoroughly wash the area where you will be placing the decal. Dry the area.
Apply the decal according to your markings. Peel off the backing first, and be careful not to get fingerprints on the adhesive side of the decal if your decal involves clear vinyl.
Smooth the decal with the plastic squeegee, moving from the center to the outside of the decal to push out any air bubbles. This may take several passes to get all the air out, so be patient.
Poke tiny holes in any remaining air bubbles with a pin. As the decal sets, the bubble will disappear and you will not even know where it was.
Trim any rough edges with your X-Acto knife. Be very careful if you do this on your bike. It is best to do this while you are in the process of applying the decal if possible.
- For more complicated applications, such as around curved pieces of bodywork, you may want to try cutting a larger decal into pieces for the sake of a smooth wraparound image. Unfortunately, this will mean you will have to be extra careful in lining up the different parts of the image so they come together to form a cohesive whole.
- Another way to apply vinyl decals to a curved surface involves using a heat gun or hairdryer to make the vinyl easier to mold. To do this, apply the decal as normal and then have a friend hold the heat gun or hairdryer on the decal as you smooth it with the squeegee. Do not hold it too close, or you may melt the vinyl.
Things You'll Need
- X-Acto knife
- Soapy water
- Plastic squeegee
- Non-shedding cotton cloth
- Water-soluble pencil
- Low-tack masking tape
- Heat gun or hairdryer
Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker and writer who has written for several online publications, including Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication CarEnvy.ca. Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.