All-road, all-terrain, Dutch, folding, electrically assisted, tandem, etc. the models of bicycles are not lacking. Flagship product and largely top-selling product, the equipment has become an accessory, with many possibilities for personalization of aesthetics or comfort. It passes from generation to generation, goes around the neighborhood, is the subject of a birthday group purchase, or whatever. In short, rare are the bikes that have only one life. So sometimes, it is preferable, even necessary, to retype it with a little coat of paint which will be enough to give it the facelift it deserves. Here are our tips.
Why repaint a bike?
The bicycle remains one of the oldest means of individual transport, and yet one of the most practiced today, reinforced by the appearance of the electric bicycle and the self-service bicycle in recent years, but also by the desire assumed by many French people to limit their carbon footprint, to travel green, and at the same time to practice a sporting activity, which is moreover outdoors. When time is lacking in an overflowing active life, the round trip between home and school or home and work by bike allows you to tick “Sports activity OK” on your weekly to-do-list. Whether it’s a passion, a relaxing outing, a sport, an outlet or a means of transport, or all five at the same time, the bicycle remains highly acclaimed by many new followers coming to be added to the confirmed converts.
Repainting your bike can therefore take on three characteristics:
- Decorative painting, for a more modern style, or to add an original and personal touch to everyday equipment;
- Camouflage paint, to hide an unpleasant existing color, or so that the big sister’s bike is accepted by the little brother who takes a dim view of the pink floral frame;
- Repair paint, when a bike is rusty, or has suffered a shock that has damaged its paint, for example.
What paint to use to repaint a bike?
Obviously, a classic paint will not be suitable for repainting your bike, since it will have to effectively resist bad weather, strong temperature variations, and gravel projections. The chosen paint must therefore be resistant to UV and humidity. Paint quality will be important. As for a mural for example, its consistency will offer a more or less harmonious rendering. The thinner ones will tend to drool or run, and the thicker ones will sometimes splatter in bundles. The degree of pigmentation will obviously also influence the final result. Two coats will always be necessary, but the best paints will already offer a very good finish on the first coat.
On average, a 400 ml can of paint will cover the frame of a bicycle with a single coat. To get an idea of the prices, a bomb will be around 40 €, but it will be necessary to add the finishing product for an additional ten euros. If this work seems too substantial or too risky, a professional can carry it out, for a budget of 100 to 150 € for a plain finish.
What method and process to follow to repaint a bike?
If repainting a bike is possible and possible for everyone, it is however necessary to carefully follow each of the steps mentioned below. An artist’s soul will not be enough to obtain the expected rendering. It will have to mingle with the handyman soul that sleeps somewhere in you! Here is the procedure to follow.
First step: Disassemble the bike
Yes, it is possible to repaint your bike without disassembling it, but it would be better to disassemble each part to more easily access each component to be repainted, and avoid staining those you do not want to touch. To do this, start with a good splash of water on the entire bike, then grab a set of Allen wrenches, and get to work! Only the elements allowing the frame to be released must be dismantled : the saddle, the handlebars, the wheels, the cranks of the crankset, the crankset, the chain, the front and rear derailleurs, the brakes, the fork, and accessories such as a bottle holder. A crank puller will probably be needed to disassemble the crankset, depending on the type of axle on the bike. Take the opportunity to degrease all the disassembled parts, and in particular those of the transmission (chain, sprockets, chainrings and rear derailleur).
Second step: Sand the parts to be painted
Sanding is an essential step. It would be wrong to think that repainting your bike using the existing paint is a good idea, even if it’s only minor paint touch-ups. It will therefore be better to protect the parts that are not to be painted with paint tape, and start by peeling off the stickers using a hair dryer. Yes, yes, the heat will make them peel off quite effectively. Traces of glue can then be removed using a cloth soaked in acetone or white spirit.
Then comes the sanding. To do this, it will be necessary to equip yourself with a more or less thick sandpaper according to the more or less meticulous parts, to sand the surfaces concerned. Coarse grit paper will be useful for sanding down the frame that is usually covered with a thick layer of paint. Matte paint can be sanded with fine grit sandpaper without too much difficulty. Sanding will promote better adhesion of the paint, and better hold over time.
If the frame is rusty, sanding alone will not be enough, and applying a coat of paint on a corroded material may not hold up over time, and offer a disappointing result. In this case, it will be good to sandblast metal surfaces concerned. It is a piece of equipment that projects a jet of sand so powerful that the layer of rust bursts locally. To camouflage the damage caused, it will then be possible toapply a layer of putty preparation for painting.
Third step: Clean the parts to be painted
Once the sanding is done, thorough cleaning of each room will be necessary and will inexorably extend the life of your rebuilt bike. No need to invest in cleaning chemicals, everyday household products will do just fine. Bring a bucket of hot water to which you will pour a little dishwashing liquid and white vinegar for effective degreasing and to avoid too premature aging of the parts. Also, baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge will clean the chrome parts effectively and without aggressiveness. Be sure to dry the bike well so as not to risk preventing the paint from adhering. Better to wait at least 1 hour before the next step.
Finally, note that, if the unpainted parts can be exempted from cleaning, it is better to do it all the same for an optimal final rendering and like new. In particular, the chain must be properly degreased, brushed and then cleaned with a cloth, to lubricate it again with a special oil.
Third step: Apply a first coat of paint
First of all, shake the can for a long time (not less than 2 minutes) paint to homogenize the preparation, and ventilate the room in which you plan your work as an artist. Aerosol paints are toxic and should not be inhaled for prolonged periods indoors without protective equipment. The ideal will be to do it outdoors, and wear a protective mask.
The first layer can then be applied holding the can about 10 centimeters from the support, without stopping the back and forth movement to limit the risk of dripping. Please note, however, that certain parts, such as the sheaths in particular, must not be repainted. Even if some paints display a record drying time, it is better to wait at least 2 hours, or even ideally half a day, to apply a second coat.
Fourth step: Sand down any imperfections
This step may not be necessary. This will usually depend on the condition of the bike. If necessary, the light passage of a fine-grained sandpaper will gently sand the persistent imperfections, even the drips of the first coat of paint.
Step five: Apply a second coat of paint
Once the first coat is completely dry, and any small imperfections have been corrected, the second coat of paint can be applied. In the same way as the first, it will be necessary to hold the spray can at a sufficient distance, and practice going back and forth with the spray can so as not to leave a drip of paint. The drying time here will be at least 12 hours, or even ideally 24 hours. Ideally, the varnished paint will be much more resistant than the matt one, especially in the event of an impact.
Before continuing and once the second coat is dry, it will be possible to give free rein to your creative and original desires. Why not write a word, a date, draw an emblem, create any pattern, whatever. These customization elements will make it possible to bring a more personal touch to a process of modernization or appropriation.
Once the painting is finished, it will be possible and advisable to add a finish coating transparent or a coat of varnish to protect the bike from rust, and give it a satin effect. Two coats will give it a shiny effect, obviously respecting the drying times between each coat.
Step seven: Reassemble the bike
Logic isn’t it! Once each repainted part is completely dry, and everything has been carefully cleaned, the bike can be reassembled. Once done, it will be a good idea to grease the transmission parts sparingly to preserve them from humidity and corrosion.