In the Shop

Motorcycle Painting Part 1 of 3

By Bob Wark

(Note: You may use this article on your Website, but it must inlude the following - This article was written by Bob Wark. It is not intended to be a tutorial, rather an overview of the process. You may contact the author at The Warkshop - 740-374-4250 - or at his Website: www.warkshop.com)



Decisions, Decisions! What do I want? Would traditional pure white be nice or would candy red be better? There is such a wide variety, picking what you want is tough. In the past your color choice could effect durability. Lacquer reds, candy's, and pearls all had short life spans. Modern acrylic urethane is very resistant to ultra-violet, acid rain and gasoline. Candy's and Pearls are available in these fine finishes. These hi-tech coatings are more costly initially but give years of service so are actually very cost effective. There is of course a variation in material and labor cost from simple pastel colored jobs to that required for candy's, pearls, two-tones and other such fancy jobs. At repair time the above is also true. So basically if proper modern materials are used most any color will hold up well. The one exception would be neon's, their dyes are weak in the face of ultra-violet rays. The brilliant depth, gloss and sparkle of candy paint is hard to beat! Ride up to a crowd of motorcyclists or hackers with a good candy job, and you WILL be noticed! Any GOOD paint job brings your bike to life an draws people to it so they can see it's other fine aspects! If it is of any consolation I have painted bikes for over 35 years and still have a heck of a time picking color for my own bikes!



Most pro painters will not remove, dismantle, then re-assemble your rig or bike for painting. Greasy nuts and bolts don't mix well with paint materials! Gas caps, fuel petcocks and tail-lights must be removed. To mask anything is to compromise job quality, now why would we want to do that! Some hard to remove items may be left to expert removal, if you are not sure ask the painter man. Parts which are "built up" assemblies, such as BMW fairings, need to be broken down to all the separate pieces. We want to get paint around all these little edges just like the factory did, or at least should have! Ha! If you don't feel at ease with this work your local shop should be of assistance. Generally speaking tearing down for paint is within the skill level of most enthusiasts; it is time consuming more than difficult, just don't bite off more than you can chew! Also, be your painters friend, clean AND degrease your parts. You will have his appreciation (Remember he has your parts!) and may even save yourself a clean up fee! Finally, if you are going to ship your parts to the painter take note: Carefully Packing your parts in nice big boxes with lots of padding can save you dollars!! If the painter is able to put your parts back in your boxes with your padding it saves him time and might save you a handling fee!



To start with I must hesitantly broach a delicate subject. My opinion is that it is risky to have an AUTO (the key word here) body shop paint your bike or your bike or hack. Why? Because someone who does not share your love of riding doesn't understand how important these parts are to you! Why, its your bike's body!! Most bike painters, myself included, are avid riders so we know the special bond between man and machine. AUTO body shops are only rarely called upon to do bike work so are seldom prepared for these what must seem to them 'Odd' jobs. Cars will sit solidly on their tires and allow you to sand, pound and then blast them with paint. Try that with bike parts and they fall off the workbench and skid across the floor! Ouch! Most bike painters have a variety of jigging fixtures to solidly hold parts so they can be safely and easily worked on. Also different skills are developed to work on what are mostly round shaped parts as opposed to autos which are fairly flat. This next point is REAL important! If proper steps aren't taken the paint will pucker up around the gas filler hole! Anyone who has been around bikes for long has seen the ugly results of this. It IS avoidable. An auto body shop may or may not be able to identify your bikes color, bikes aren't in auto color books. The special sources of information are known to a bike painter, he has to know this stuff! There is no substitute for specialized, hands on experience, why take a chance?!

Well, that about covers the first steps, all of which are in your hands. In the next segment we will cover the actual repair and preparation of the parts, the professional's job. Read On!


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The Warkshop, Painter Bob Wark, 1955 County Road 9, Marietta, OH 45750 - (740) 538-4746

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