Painting your motorcycle rims is a good way to restore your rims or just make them better looking. I guess that’s why you are here too. Either the original paint has fallen off or you just want to change the color. So, you want to know how to paint motorcycle rims. That’s exactly what this guide is for.
- Remove the rims
- Apply paint stripper
- Apply degreasing spray
- Clean the rims
- Apply paint
- Dry for 30 minutes
- Add another coating
This is not that hard to do, frankly, anyone can do it. But there are some things you need to look out for. I’ll be explaining the whole process step-by-step. Here we go.
Let’s start with the gear you will need to do a proper paint job. Believe me, you want to get this before you start painting. Realizing that you are missing something mid-painting, can be both annoying and dangerous. You don’t want to damage your wheel rims, so you need to do this properly. Here’s what you will need.
- Masking tape
- Paint stripper
- Paint degreaser
- Paint for rims – Rust-Oleum, Dupli-Color
- Rubber gloves & face mask
- Grit sandpaper or a wire brush
- Optional: Paintbrushes
This won’t cost you a lot, it depends on the quality of the products you buy. It cheaper than paying someone to do it for you, that’s for sure.
Painting Motorcycle Rims
Now that you have your gear ready, we can start with the painting process. Before you start though, make sure you have a good working area. A well-ventilated area, the paint has a strong smell. You have your mask but it’s better to do this outside or in an open garage.
- Remove the rims or cover the tire.
The first thing to do is prepare the rim for painting. It’s preferred that you remove the rim from the tire. But this is not that necessary. You can just cover the tire with paper or plastic, and separate the rim from the tire with masking tape. We already explained how to remove wheels from a bike in How To Change And Balance Your Motorcycle Tire. You will find out how to remove the bead too. You decide what you are comfortable with, at least remove the wheel from the bike.
- Apply the paint stripper.
A paint stripper is a spray that removes paint from surfaces. You can find it in any paint shop, check Amazon too. Check the instructions on the bottle. Usually, you apply the spray and let it sit for 15 minutes. Apply on the entire surface of the rim.
- Scrub with grit sandpaper or a wire brush.
Once the paint stripper has dissolved the surface paint, you need to scrub it off. This is best done with grit sandpaper or a wire brush. You decide what you will be using. Be careful here, you don’t want to scrub on the metal of the rim. If you see the paint falling off, and you can see the rim base, don’t scrub in that place anymore. Scratches will mess up with the new coat of paint, they will be pretty visible too.
- Apply paint degreaser.
Chances are, the paint stripper alone won’t do the job. There will be pieces of colored paint on the rim. Dirt and leftover stripper will be present too. You can’t scrub these off, you will damage the metal. So, here, we apply the paint degreaser. This will get rid of the leftovers. After this, you should have a clean, smooth surface for painting. Do not continue unless your rim is clean. The spray paint won’t attach to the rim if there are pieces of paint present.
- Prepare the rim for the light coats.
Now, we got rid of the old wheel paint, we ensured a clean surface. We can get to painting, just a few preparations left. Plan out how and where you will paint the rim. The places that won’t be painted over should be covered with masking tape. This will help you with precision.
- Apply a light coat of paint.
Start by applying the first coat of paint. Don’t cover the entire rim just yet, leave some room where the bead meets the rim. You will paint that later. We are doing this to prevent any spills and mistakes. If you are using spray paint, just do a nice light spray as a base. Use a paintbrush if you went for colored paint.
- Let the first coat dry for at least 30 minutes.
It depends on the paint you are using but 30 minutes should be enough after the first coating. However, I recommend reading the can for instructions. If there are drying instructions there, follow them and disregard what I said. Some products have a specific way of working.
- Apply the finishing coat.
All that is left to do is add the second coat. This is where you give the rims a good look. Make sure you cover the entire surface. Avoid heavy coats though. This can make the surface rugged. You are looking for a smooth shiny surface. If it looks like you need more coating, just let it dry for 30 minutes and try again. Just don’t do heavy coats.
- Let the paint dry.
You are done with painting, you have to wait now. The recommended waiting time is about an hour or two, it depends on the product you used. Check the instructions to be sure. Either way, let it dry for at least an hour.
So, there we go. A step-by-step guide on how to paint motorcycle rims. I hope this will make your rims good-looking so you can show them off.
- If you think the grit or the brush is too strong, try using playing cards to remove the current paint chunks. The cards are thin enough to get between the loose paint and the rim. But are also not strong enough to damage the paint.
- Never paint over a wet surface. Always allow time for the rim to dry completely. Rushing this will only make this more complicated and harder.
- Consider buying more than 1 spray or cans of paint. It’s better to be prepared for situations where you use up all the paint.
- Consider a powder coating job. This is more expensive than painting, and it’s usually done by a professional. It gives a better smooth finish. It’s hard to do this yourself, you just don’t have the gear.
- Before you buy the products, check what kind of rims you have. Is it an aluminum surface or chrome rims? Buy the products according to these materials.
- Treat rust spots with a rust treatment solvent.
Powder Coating Vs Painting Rims
Powder coating or painting, a dilemma every biker had. I bet some of you are wondering about this too. What is better? I think most of you know the answer by now. If you have heard about powder coating, you know how expensive it is, and how good it is.
Basically, both of these won’t affect the performance of your vehicle. So, it comes down to aesthetics and durability. There’s the price too. What looks better? What lasts longer? What is more expensive?
The answer to all of these is powder coating. Powder coating is a complicated process where the rims are neutralized, grounded, and sprayed. This ensures that the paint attaches to the rim in a really strong bond. It makes for a great finish too. Because of this, the powder coat lasts longer, but it is also more expensive.
Painting, on the other hand, is cheaper, and you can do it yourself. The only disadvantage is that it’s not as durable. Chances are, you are going to be repainting after a while. At least, you will be covering some spots where the paint has fallen off.
All in all, powder coating is better than painting. But sometimes it does not make sense to go for powder coating. First of all, the financial situation may not allow it. If you have an old bike, powder coating just does not make sense. My advice is, go for powder coating if you have a really good bike that you are going to be using for a while.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Rims
Motorcycle rims are painted with automotive spray paint. Paint specifically designed for bike rims is the only option. What kind of materials the rims are made of matters too.
How Long Does Powder Coating Last
The powder coating on motorcycle rims can last up to 20 years. It depends on the quality of the coating, and the expertise of the painter. The average life of powder coating is somewhere between 15-20 years.
How Much Does It Cost To Have Rims Powder Coated
It depends on the type of wheels you have, and how much the service provider will charge you. On average a powder coating job costs from 400$-700$ for two rims.
Is Powder Coating Bad For Rims
Powder coating can be sometimes bad for rims, especially aluminum ones. The energy required to powder coat the rims is too high for an aluminum wheel. So, it weakens the strength of the rims. This is not true for all rims though.