Do it Yourself Motorcycle Paint


With the proper approach, a motorcycle can be painted in your garage to impressive effect. A paint job at a professional body shop can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but it's entirely possible with a few cans of spray paint and some elbow grease to get the same results at home. You'll need at least one can of primer, color and clear-coat. You'll also need sandpaper, masking tape and something to strip the old paint.

Remove the parts for painting

  • Remove any parts to be painted. The main component, and possibly the only one you will be painting, is the gas tank. Drain it and remove it. There are probably at least a few bolts that hold it to the frame. Once the tank is off, make sure that fuel is not leaking out of the fuel line. You also might paint the small plastic side covers that often have the company emblem as well as the headlight fairing, if there is one installed. If the gas cap is easily removed, take it off. If not, use masking tape to mask it off.

Prepare the parts

  • You can either paint over the old paint, or for an even better finish, strip the parts to be painted. This can be done a few ways. If you have a compressor, you can sand-blast the parts. You can also strip the parts with a product like Jasco and some sandpaper. Another alternative is using a 4-inch angle grinder with an EZ Strip pad attached. If there are dents and scratches on the tank or parts, use Bondo and spot putty to smooth out the low areas. Use a light coat of primer as a guide coat to determine if the finish is smooth.

Applying paint

  • Prime the tank. Dust the tank lightly with paint and let that sit for a minute, then begin applying layers of paint. The dusting will promote adhesion. Use at least three coats of primer, wet-sanding between with 180 or smoother sandpaper. Once the parts are primed, allow them to dry thoroughly, then begin applying the color coat in the same manner, with smooth, even strokes. To keep the nozzle clean, turn the can upside down frequently and spray until no paint comes out and wipe off the nozzle. Apply at least three coats, wet-sanding in between. Last, spray on several coats of clear in the same method as the other coats. Wet-sand the clear coat starting as with sandpaper as rough as 120 and moving all the way up to 1100- or even 1500-grit paper. Use a high quality wax and a high speed buffer to buff the paint to a brilliant shine.

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