Steps to Painting a Motorcycle

Updated April 17, 2017

Motorcycles are a two-wheel, gas-friendly way to get around the road. However, any money you save on riding one of these can disappear if you decide to paint or repaint your motorcycle. Professional custom painting can cost a boatload and easily equal what you paid for the bike, so it's much cheaper to do the job yourself. Taking your bike apart can be the hardest part, and it's important to practice painting on scrap metal before trying on your bike. But with the right supplies and practice, you'll be happy you chose to paint your own motorcycle.

Take off the parts of your bike that need painting. Removal procedure may vary depending on your type of motorcycle. Check your bike's manual or ask a mechanic if you have trouble removing these parts. You'll be better asking a professional how it's done than messing up.

Prepare the parts for painting. This involves sanding, buffing, taking off old paint and making sure you have a smooth surface. Figure out if lacquer thinner will take off your existing paint by trying it on a small hidden spot. If not, use a lacquer primer that can be sanded later.

Use lacquer paint for maximum results. Buy a lacquer that's one of the easier ones to use, because it dries fast and leaves little room for mistakes. Use spray cans you can fill up to spray on the paint. Mix the paint according to directions and fill up the spray cans to prepare for painting.

Spray a few light coats at first as a base coat. Wait about a half hour in between each coat to let the paint dry. If you have drips, you can sand quickly before applying more colour. Then spray another couple coats on, waiting the same amount of time, and spray a few coats of clear coat to finish.

Sand and buff the surface to get rid of drips and create a glossy finish. Sand and polish softly when you get closer to the edges so you don't take off the paint. Using a professional electronic buffer and polisher is helpful and does a good job to create a shiny surface.


Buy a mask for your face that's intended to keep out vapours when painting. Other masks may not do the job as well.


Don't paint your motorcycle in an enclosed area when using lacquered paint, and don't set off any sparks, as this paint is very flammable.

Things You'll Need

  • Tools for taking apart motorcycle
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Sander
  • Lacquer paint
  • Spray cans
  • Lacquer clear coat
  • Electronic buffer
  • Buffer polish
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