How to paint a motorcycle???

9 posts / 0 new
Last post
vestureofblood's picture
Last seen: 1 week 4 days ago
Joined: 08/17/2012 - 15:21
Posts: 2040
Location: Missouri
How to paint a motorcycle???

Hi all,

I could use some help….. I’d like to paint the fenders, gas tank and side panels on my Suzuki intruder. I’m gong to have to do this myself. I do not need this to be A++++ quality, but I do want it to be pretty good.

I heard that you can get “shop quality” automotive paints that have some kind of a hardener mixed in them that come in an aerosol can. I am kind of leaning toward this because I do have a compressor, but no spray gun or line filter. I will probly do a single color (two max), and clear coat. I also have some decals I am thinking about using an “S” on each side of the tank. The parts are in pretty good shape and I am hoping to avoid having to use body filler, but may have to.

My questions:

1. Are the spray cans a good idea? If so what brand, and where to get?
2. There is a ton of metal on an intruder, would it be better to get some cheap HF type spray gun and go that way?
3. I heard somewhere that when you paint a gas tank there can be problems with the paint peeling up around the rim where you put the gas in. How can I avoid that pitfall?
3. In a video I saw someone say that you could clean the parts and then rough up the old paint with 400 grit then paint over it. Is this correct?
4. Should I be using primer?
5. Is there any other major think I need to know about this??

If someone could help me with the step by step I would also appreciate it….

1. Clean and degrease parts.
2. Rough with sand paper
3. Spray on color
4. Let dry (how long?)
5. Apply decals
6. Spray clear coat (how many layers?)

Something like that?

In Him (Jesus Christ) was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. Everyday Carry Flashlights, plus Upgrades for Maglite.

Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 05/18/2020 - 09:57
Posts: 569
Location: quarantained

I have painted a few smaller panels and parts at home, results were ok looking. They were not shop quality but the tools I have used were not the highest quality. Also cheaped out on paint, should’ve gone up there.

1) these guys paint their own cars with standard tools and utilities, they turn out great. A lot of it comes through experience and attention to detail.

2) I would look into quality, affordable spray guns. Harbor Freight is good enough for me. you could spend a little more and get something really good.

3) I wouldn’t work with spray cans on anything that has to look good.

4) yes, prep work is super relevant to how everything will turn out.

I can not answer the peeling question around the filler cap, sorry.

Typical curation is a few hours on car/body panels, depending on temperature/heat. Can be faster if you live in a hotter area. I normally use 2-3 layers of clear coat. Some professionals use more.

How you polish/work the parts after you paint is also important.

AmbientSix's picture
Last seen: 3 months 1 week ago
Joined: 04/07/2020 - 18:18
Posts: 113
Location: US of A

Don’t try to match colors under crappy LED or florescent lighting. Use natural light.

Nitecore D10 R2, Extreme E3, EX11.2, TIP, and Tubes. Noctigon KR4, FWAA, S2+

Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 05/18/2020 - 09:57
Posts: 569
Location: quarantained

The area you work in has to be really, really clean.
My first paint jobs were in a garage that had the walls and areas covered with plastic film (makeshift paint booth) – this is NOT clean. Had dust, particles and dirt enclosed in my paint and spent hours getting them out, most were left in the paint.

pennzy's picture
Last seen: 8 hours 7 min ago
Joined: 12/10/2017 - 19:45
Posts: 4618
Location: United States , Pa.

I can tell you how not to do it. I painted my bike’s gas tank with sray paint when I was a kid and the gas tore it up. I am not sure how to prevent this. Maybe clear coat would help. Maybe ask a body and fender guy.

Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: 05/30/2016 - 12:29
Posts: 639
Location: NorCal

Check out Chopcult. There are tons of guys who have had really impressive results with rattle-can paint jobs. A little searching there will help a ton.

You’ll get specific brand names and more.

Don’t check out the non motorcycle portion of the site. It’s full of the darkest crap that humanity carries.

Last seen: 8 hours 14 min ago
Joined: 05/18/2019 - 16:59
Posts: 1350
Location: Okla.

I thought for sure you were going to talk about “light painting.” Smile

== We save the planet from darkness ==

pinkpanda3310's picture
Last seen: 4 days 4 hours ago
Joined: 12/28/2013 - 08:45
Posts: 3217
Location: Perth

You can do it with a spray can if you know how to handle them

…or get someone to spray it with Lumilor Evil like a true sun depraved blf’er


Last seen: 1 day 19 hours ago
Joined: 07/27/2017 - 23:57
Posts: 71
Location: New york

Its very possible to rattle can and have a presentable bike.. But I LOVE the hvlp sprayer set from harbor freight. Its 30$ on sale, but 50 now. You can make the bike look like it was sprayed by a professional with but 20 minutes of pratice. Seriously. Takes more time to prep/clean the surface your painting.

You will also need DRY air from your compressor. You can buy disposable ones, or reusable one. Water

And pratice on a spare hood, or anything metal to dial in the paint gun. Cardboard can work, but wont show you how heavy the coats are your putting down (paint absorbed into cardboard). After that quick pratice session youll realize its AWESOME, and you want to paint everything. These cheap hvlp guns are considered disposable to most, but ive had mine for close to 5 years. Sprays as good as day one! Just clean them after each session.

My bikes yet to peel around the gas tank (or anywhere), and that was with duplicolor ready-to-spray black, and matching duplicolor clear (available at local parts stores on the shelf). Mixing your own paint is an option too, its not rocket science. Just stick to one brand of base/clear/. Dont take a chance of ruining a nice paint job by having the base paint eat through the clear (or vice versa)

50$ gun, 50$ dryer (or 10$ disposable), 3 quarts of paint 90$, 2 quart of clear 60$. Potentially painting your bike for under 250$ since you already have the compressor.

More tips in no random order:

If your not stripping and priming/repainting be sure to Scuff every surface to be painted, you want good adhesion. 3m makes scuff pads that work well.

Curing time between coats/clear varies by brand. This is one time to follow the directions.

Clean with dish soap and warm water. Then clean with high percentage iso alcohol.

Before you start spraying, drain your compressor tank of water (compressors can stay running while spraying) even if you have a in line drier.

The ammount of time you spend filling/smoothing/cleaning is directly proportional to how your paint job will come out. Prep is 90% of the job.

Use as little bondo or filler as possible.

If you have decals for the tank, resist the urge to put them between the basecoat and the clear coat layers. You want proper adhesion of base to clear.

Wetsanding seems counterintuitive, but isn’t. It is possible to have a decent paint job without it, but it helps… A lot. Theres something to be said about a mirror like painted surface.

It all started with just one flashlight.