How to paint motorcycle engines

Updated April 17, 2017

Engine paint can greatly improve a bike's curb appeal. Whether going with a monochrome paint scheme or painting the engine with black wrinkle paint, the paint will protect the engine and prevent oxidation. Painting the cylinders black, then sanding the paint from the edges of the cooling fins is a popular engine paint upgrade that can turn a bland aluminium engine into an eye-catching centrepiece for your bike, especially when coupled with chrome engine accents.

Remove the gas tank, carburettor, seat, plug wires and any other hang-on parts that are not to be painted. Wash the engine with soapy water, then let it dry thoroughly.

Apply masking tape to the engine. Mask off all of the engine parts that are to be left unpainted, such as the rocker boxes and pushrod tubes.

Don the goggles and respirator, then spray the paint onto the desired areas of the engine. Lay the paint on with a few light coats instead of one heavy coat to help prevent sags and runs in the paint. Apply the thinnest coating of paint you can to get coverage and no more.

Allow the paint to dry fully, then remove the masking tape. Reinstall the components removed in Step 1.


Use only paint rated for motorcycle engines and apply the thinnest coat possible. If the paint is too thick, overheating will be a problem. Follow the instructions from the paint manufacturer for drying times and application recommendations.


Wear eye and respiratory protection when working with aerosol-driven paint. Work in an area with lots of fresh air and no ignition sources.

Things You'll Need

  • Mechanic's tools
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Masking tape
  • Goggles
  • Respirator
  • Aerosol engine paint
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