How to Paint Motorcycle Saddlebags

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Use a paint formulated to bond to leather.
Use a paint formulated to bond to leather. (Image: motorcycle image by Bionic Media from Fotolia.com)

You can transform the appearance of your motorcycle saddlebags by refinishing them with paint. Before you begin the application process, you must condition the saddlebags to accept their new finish. Motorcycle saddlebags are composed of leather or fiberglass. You must employ specific preparation strategies, based on the particular surface with which you are working. In addition, you should select a special paint that will promote an attractive, professional-looking sheen and strong durability in exterior environments.

Things You'll Need

  • SEM - Plastic/Leather Prep
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Masking paper
  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Acrylic primer
  • Classic Coat Aerosol for Leather, Vinyl & Plastic

Spray SEM - Plastic/Leather Prep onto the motorcycle saddlebags. Wait 30 seconds. Scrub the saddlebags with a clean rag. Rinse the saddlebags with damp rags and dry the saddlebags with towels.

Abrade fiberglass motorcycle saddlebags to promote adhesion. Scour the saddlebags until they feel slightly rough.

Protect the motorcycle from paint overspray by covering it with masking paper, plastic drop cloths and painter's tape.

Coat fiberglass motorcycle saddlebags with acrylic spray primer. Maintain a distance of 8 inches between the saddlebags and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait three hours for the primer to dry. Skip this step if the saddlebags are leather.

Coat the motorcycle saddlebags with two thins coats of Classic Coat Aerosol for Leather, Vinyl & Plastic. Maintain a distance of 8 inches between the saddlebags and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait two hours between each coat. Wait 6 hours for the final coat to dry and cure.

Tips & Warnings

  • Classic Coat Aerosol for Leather, Vinyl & Plastic is ideal for this project because it bonds well to leather and produces an attractive, durable sheen. If you choose a different brand of paint, be sure to study the labeling to ensure that it possesses these same qualities.
  • Never prime unsanded fiberglass motorcycle saddlebags, or the finish will flake.
  • Never paint unprimed fiberglass motorcycle saddlebags, or the paint will peel.
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