How to Paint a Motorcycle With Spray Paint and Get Great Results.

IMG_3612

Masking off everything I didn’t want to get paint overspray on.

IMG_3611

The hideous “Tribal Armband Tattoo” paint scheme I was getting rid of. It smelled of Overcompensation and fail. The scent of 1000 “Tapout” tee shirts and Axe Body Spray. Had to go.

IMG_3610

More air brushed Power Fail.

IMG_3477

Pretty much summed up my thoughts anytime I looked at the awful original paint on my bike.

IMG_3661

My feeling after being quoted around $2,700 for a new paint job by two local professional motorcycle paint companies.

IMG_3606

IMG_3621 Masked off ready for spray can goodness!

IMG_3617

Then this happened, and it continued to rain like the mother fucking Amazon rain forest for a week straight. I trudged on despite this…

IMG_3658

The original tank in it’s horrid glory, complete with the scratches and big dent the previous owner inflicted upon it.

IMG_3657

Black… Red… Chrome… An “Ace of Spades” with some guy in it… So bad.

IMG_3595

The bare metal replacement tank I bought. Hanging from my improvised outdoors paint rig.

IMG_3603

First couple of coats of metal etching primer.

IMG_3602

After another coat of the etching primer, I did three coats of sandable filler primer. Wet sanded between every couple of layers.

 

 

IMG_3619

A few base coats in. I wet sanded in between each coat, probably did about 8 layers.

IMG_3616

Wet sanding is easy, and made a huge difference in the final quality of this paint job.

IMG_3621

I sanded up the fenders – Taking off most of the clear coat until they were dull looking. I didn’t re prime them, but started spraying coat after coat of new paint.

IMG_3623

Slowly, the ugly original paint began to disappear…

IMG_3625

… Like a bad dream.

IMG_3624

…. Until it was almost completely gone.

IMG_3632

The tank base coats done.

IMG_3607

The first coat of Urethane two part clear. looking shiny!

IMG_3643

My improvised “Inside a shed” paint room since the weather sucked so bad.

IMG_3644

IMG_3641 This was my secret weapon for a good looking and durable final product. This Spraymax 2K clear coat is basically the same stuff a pro painter would mix up. unlike other off the shelf clears, you actuate a little canister of hardener that’s in the can, and it mixes into the same type of clear that the pros use. It’s as resistant to gasoline and other solvents, something none of the spray paint clears are. You’ll want the goofy looking filtration mask though. This stuff is dangerous to breathe.

 

IMG_3649

Pretty much done.

IMG_3650

Old and new.

IMG_3655

The finished products back on the bike.

IMG_3662

The stuff I had to buy. Probably between $100 and $150 total investment with lots left over. Still WAY better than $2,700!

Several months ago I bought a used chopper from it’s original owner. Great bike, but it had a ridiculous looking “Tribal tattoo” paint job… Pretty much the exact opposite of anything I would consider cool.

I entertained getting a professional repaint done, figuring maybe a budget for a solid color might be around $600 – $800. I was wrong. Both places I contacted quoted me around $2,700, enough to buy another bike.

Was not going to happen.

So I did some research on various custom motorcycle forums, and there are lots of people doing great paint jobs with cans of automotive spray paint. The stuff you can buy at any auto supply store.

You’ll read scary warnings about how shitty spray can paint jobs will look, don’t believe that, those rumors are probably started by guys that paint motorcycles for a living. Any person willing to spend a few days doing prep work and taking their time can get great results.

A few tips:

Warm your spray cans with hot water. It makes the paint flow more evenly. Buy one of those little spray can trigger/handle rigs. they’re inexpensive and make it a lot nicer to spray.

Almost all spray paint is lacquer. Lacquer paints have solvents in them, and they dry as the solvents evaporate. they dry really quickly, and are easy to work with. The downside to them, is that if you rush things, the final product will look like crap, and any solvents that land on that paint will mess them up. Gasoline being a solvent, makes a lacquer painted motorcycle tank… Risky. Lacquer paints also tend to chip easily, and generally don’t last a long time.

These unfortunate properties extend to most if not all of the straight out of the can clear coats that you can get at an auto supply or home improvement store.

Fortunately, a few years ago new “2K” spray paint clear coats were developed. These are just like the stuff a pro would mix up and use to paint a vehicle, the two part chemical process is set up so a person can trigger it in the can, and then has around 48 hours to spray before the stuff hardens too much.

I got great results with using the SprayMax 2K glossy clear coat over standard Rustoleum and Duplicolor rattlecan paint.

I would do it again anytime before spending almost 3K on some pro job.

Is it perfect? No. But for a custom cycle with lots of personal touches and small imperfections already, it looks great.

 

 

Bankers & Lawyers Playing Tough Guys – The Problems With American Motorcycle Culture Today.

I own a couple of American-made motorcycles. More on that a little later.

Riding a Harley or custom chopper automatically bestows certain expectations upon a person. The Harley Davidson brand has particularly cultivated its image over decades, and that image is hard to shake even if you want to. Most people that buy those bikes don’t seem to want to, but I find the weird patriotism and “off the rack rebel” imagery to be…pretty stupid.

For a country that seems to generally reward people that don’t step too far out of line, America really seems to love the image of rebellion. I suppose that the image of a rebel, living outside the rules of conventional society is an appealing one. Since the 1950’s and especially the 1960’s, the image of bikers fits that bill nicely. Just watch any of the old exploitation biker films from the late 1960’s, and it becomes obvious that many Americans were both frightened and fascinated by the idea of “Outlaw Bikers.” Media coverage of stories concerning the exploits of those biker gangs created a modern mythos, and somehow in the last 40 years or so, the homogeneous image of American bikers became popular with mainstream society.

Yeah, the actual dangerous biker gangs are still active today, essentially having become crime families. But most people you’ll see dressed in stereotypical biker garb, riding a Harley are more likely to be middle aged yuppies than scary gang members.

I still remember my old band being on tour, and pulling into a huge truck stop one early morning after a show. We were still wearing gear from the night before. Since that was pretty freaky looking, and since our band included attractive women, I was concerned to see a huge crowd of Harleys occupying a big chunk of the parking lot, surrounded by what looked like a scary outlaw biker gang,

My fears were dispelled as we got closer, and I saw that no one in the group looked younger than 55. Although dressed head-to-toe in leather, and riding choppers, the whole crew looked more likely to be doctors and lawyers than meth-slinging outlaws.

In fact, we were far scarier than anyone in that gang, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

But what the hell is up with comfortable fattened suburbanites dressing like the cast from “Hell’s Angels on Wheels”? I get it, it’s a safe way to try to look like a bad ass once firmly in the grips of middle age. But it looks kind of desperate and lame too.

Besides, when I see an older guy wearing a leather vest and chaps, I don’t usually think “Bad Ass Biker.” I think “that guy likes to have anal sex with other men.”

Nothing wrong with that if it’s your thing, but something¬† to consider if it’s not.

Also, for a bunch of “rebels” (or even yuppies playing rebel dress up on the weekend) the typical biker costume makes them look less like individuals that will fight the system and live outside of conventional norms, and more like a bunch of wannabe poseurs that all shop at the same costume shop. It’s the opposite of rebellion. You want to rebel on a Harley without actually becoming a criminal? Be a heterosexual male and wear pink or something. Wear a leather vest or some of that other junk, and you’ll just look like another old guy playing fancy dress up.

Then there’s the weird patriotism/snobbery that many Harley riders seem to cultivate. Harley Davidsons haven’t entirely been made in America since the early 70’s. Yep. This isn’t news to people that investigate such things, various parts are outsourced from many countries, and are assembled in the U.S.A. This isn’t something only H.D. is guilty of doing, of course. Our global economy has dramatically changed and reduced the number of goods that really are made entirely in America, but H.D. definitely promotes the hell out of being considered an American company. And they ARE, but their bikes are built from a lot of parts made elsewhere, and have been for years.

This is significant only because the company slathers almost everything they sell with the American flag, and so many people that own Harley’s develop a shitty attitude about any other motorcycle a person might choose to ride. In my opinion, someone driving a 50cc Chinese scooter every day is more of a biker than the leather clad dude that rides his Dyna Glide a few miles to show it off on weekends. That guy probably has a bunch of Chinese parts on his bike too. Anyone that’s tried to buy Harley accessories lately will see “Made in China” on those parts as often as not.

There’s even the occasional sneer directed towards people that own Sportsters, which are the smaller bikes that Harley builds. a lot of “bikers” consider them “girl’s bikes”, even though they can often perform better on streets than the bigger motorcycles in the Harley lineup.

So what do you do if you want a Harley or some kind of Harley style custom bike but don’t want to seem like a hypocritical asshole wearing a goofy costume to your “Tough Guy Club” parties?

Well, just don’t be that person. Don’t be a dick when you pull up to a guy riding something else, and consider dressing to ride rather than dressing to look like a dumb stereotype. That would be my advice anyway, but I’ll be the guy you see pull up on a custom chopper wearing a pink shirt.

Well maybe not. I don’t actually own a pink shirt, but I damn well don’t dress like a cookie cutter biker.

Oh, one last thing. For god’s sake don’t wear a bandana on your head unless you have some valid reason to. That looks so incredibly lame, and makes most of us just wonder if it’s disguising a receding hairline.

lawyer

“Biker” – The reality much of the time.

EASYRIDER-SPTI-14.tif

“Bikers”, the legend.

Sportster_chopper

A “Girl’s Bike” apparently…