22 John Street, St.Albans Melbourne // Level 2, 15 McKillop Street, CBD Melbourne

How to paint a bike.

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Over the past year, I’ve gone a bit ham on bicycles. I almost have the same number of bicycles as I do fingers, so sooner or later I would have the opportunity to expand my workshop skills. Take a bike apart? Easy. Clean it up? Dunk it in your cleaner of choice. Put it back together and adjust it so it runs smooth? Done.

Repainting a frame? This is new…

A few weeks ago, I bought a track frame that arrived with a somewhat tired looking maroon paintjob. It was rough in various places and just looked dull:

So after a few weeks of procrastination, I finally got around to stripping the frame of its paint. I sanded the paint, then dabbed on paint stripper. The sanding helps the stripper to penetrate the paint, really getting it bubbly and blistered. The bubbled paint was then scrapped off. This probably took two afternoons as the paint was not consistently applied.

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After the frame was bare, the first layer of prep was applied. Etch primer, to my understanding, helps additional layers of paint adhere to the surface better because it’s porous once dry. Porous surface = holds more paint. It was my first time using this sort of product, and within an hour I had somehow used up an entire 350g can of the stuff. My brother who has a bit more experience than me when it comes to painting frames said that I probably did not need to use that much. Whoops…

Next was filler primer. Why another layer of primer? The frame had been previously sandblasted, leaving a fairly rough surface. This would mean if I sprayed paint over the etch primer, once dry the surface would still be rough. So, as the name suggests, filler primer is a type of primer that results in a smooth surface (once sanded with fine sandpaper) and in turn allows nice coverage of paint.

Again, I used a whole can of primer. Spray cans are hard to use. All respect to the writers and artists out there.

DSCF1260All about that smooth surface..

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After some amount of sanding, the frame was ready for a lick of paint. Deciding it was not worthwhile to slave away on paint choices, I settled on a “Passionate Blue” by Dulux. Revising my spraying technique, I went light coats over the frame. Things got painted, sure, but the next problem was that it was not drying with a smooth glossy finish as advertised. Must be the nozzle type or the thickness of the paint of something – does somebody know? Anyway, despite the frame getting completely painted, it needed additional coats to attain a smooth finish. This resulted in me having to purchase another can of Passionate Blue. The next challenge was having to spray on the paint thicker to get the glossy finish, without making it run. Hard stuff! My brother helped out with the fork and it looks great, but the frame took a bit more time.

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So, how much did this little project cost me?

  • Etch Primer – $11
  • Filler Primer – $11
  • Dulux Passionate Blue x 2 – $22

    Total: $44

I could have paid about $20 more for an auto shop to do a sandblast and powdercoat with somewhat more reliable results (at the cost of a less smooth finish), but obviously I would not have learned a new skill. Appreciate.

Next time, I’ll feature the frame built up into my new track bike!

5 Comments

  1. Kitty April 9, 2016

    Hey RAD little blog there!

    Great job on the blue __<

    I hope this added info helps someone out!

    – Kitty =^__^=

  2. Kitty April 9, 2016

    Hey RAD little blog there!

    Great job on the blue <3

    Just for anyone else who reads this (I am a paint specialist by day) while the Dulux duramax cans are good. As pointed out they are HARD to use because the nozzle doesn't allow for multi angle spray-age which means you have to be a bit creative on how you spray it. I'm a babe in the woods bike building wise BUT recently i helped a Saint Side're do some spraying for the show just gone ;) paint is my biz.
    I highly recommend you guys look at Rust-oleum spray cans either they're 2x ultra cover cans OR the Universal range for your finishes if your not using auto cans. Here's a lil list for why.
    – Multi angle spray (upside down too)
    – both ranges include an added primer for maximum adhesion BUT still prime with etch OR all surface primer anyway, better safe then sorry.
    – the 2x range come in 30 colors and clear in gloss and satin SO you can spray the clear over rat bikes that are metallic to make that pop.
    – the universal range is rust preventative
    If you're not going all the way back to metal remember to clean your stuff with metho or a water metho mix. Why you ask? Crows feet. Ever sprayed something up and gotten it all nice and shiney and glossy and then you come back and "NOOOOOOO" that only happens if contaminates are still on the surface its not the paint. It's you. You missed a spot in cleaning :(

    I hope this added info helps someone out!

    – Kitty =^__^=

  3. Hillary December 23, 2017

    I badly need this! Thanks for sharing these tips. I have been planning to paint my bike for so long.

  4. Ash January 22, 2018

    If you cant acheive results using ‘export’ ONLY than face it….you just can’t paint.

  5. Ash January 22, 2018

    Coles dockets over stem but under cap with pin prick through will help restrictions flow for cheap cans. Spray angled can be achieved with a hot knife to seal jet closed and a sewing needle etc to create the angle you need

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