Painting the spokes on your bike is a good way to stand out from the crowd with a small amount of effort. Using masking tape to protect those parts of the wheel you wish to leave uncovered, a layer of paint can be applied in any colour you desire. Completely controlling the look of the paint job can be done by patterning the masking tape and using multiple colours to create the patterns within the spokes. Adding paint can affect the bike performance because of the added weight to carefully balanced wheels.
Remove the bike wheel from the bike using an adjustable wrench. Tape the portions of the wheel you want to protect from the paint with the masking tape. Place the tape on the sides of the wheel, and fold the edge of the tape over the inside of the rim to cover half the rim from each side. Press the tape against the spoke nipples where the spokes are threaded into the rim to keep them unobstructed by paint. Obstructed nipples make removing damaged spokes difficult.
Place masking tape over the hub of the wheel, covering the flanges in between the spokes where the wheel is connected to the forks of the bike. Tape the axle and nuts of wheel.
Mask off the tires to prevent paint spray from floating onto the tires and marking them.
Mask the area of the spokes you don't wish to paint with the applied colour when combining colours or creating patterns. The process of creating detailed patterns is a subtractive one, where one colour is painted, then the masked areas are shifted to protect the painted section and allow paint to be applied to a new section.
Hang the wheel in a clear area using a bungee cord. Cover the ground with a tarp to catch errant paint. Hold a can of semigloss primer paint 6 inches from the wheel and carefully spray two layers of paint on the spokes. Allow the first layer of paint to dry for 20 minutes, and the second to dry for one hour.
Apply the final layer of paint, the actual colour you wish to apply to the spokes, using steady passes with the paint. Leave a light layer with each pass until a solid coating of paint is created. Allow the paint to dry for one hour.
Remove the masking tape and replace the wheel onto the bike. If working in a pattern, remove the tape from the unpainted area and apply a new layer of tape to the painted area before applying a new colour
Substitute specially formulated wheel and spoke paint, which is designed to dry thin, adding little weight to the wheel and affecting bike performance less.
Tips and warnings
- Substitute specially formulated wheel and spoke paint, which is designed to dry thin, adding little weight to the wheel and affecting bike performance less.