How to paint motorcycle wheels

Updated February 21, 2017

If you want to paint your motorcycle's wheels, consider an important point before you begin the application process. Motorcycle wheels are made of metal, a nonporous surface that will not allow paint to adhere. You must pretreat the wheels before you paint or you will end up with significant peeling. Motorcycle wheels are too durable to use the same friction-based abrasion techniques used to prepare other nonporous services like vinyl, plastic and fibreglass. You must coat the wheels with a special acidic primer, formulated to etch metallic surfaces.

Scrub the motorcycle wheels with a water-based degreaser agent, using a coarse plastic brush. Rinse the wheels, using a water hose. Wait two to four hours for the motorcycle wheels to dry.

Protect the areas of the motorcycle you do not want painted, using masking paper, plastic coverings and painter's tape.

Coat the clean motorcycle wheels with galvanised metal-etching spray primer. Hold the spray can eight inches from the wheels as you apply. Wait four hours for the primed wheels to dry.

Coat the primed motorcycle wheels with oil-based enamel. Hold the spray can eight inches from the wheels as you apply. Wait six hours before riding the motorcycle.


Never use ordinary acrylic, oil-based or latex primer on motorcycle wheels or you will end up with chipping. Do not use ordinary acrylic or latex paint on motorcycle wheels or you will end up with fading and flaking.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreaser
  • Coarse plastic brush
  • Water hose
  • Masking paper
  • Plastic coverings
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Galvanised metal etching spray primer
  • Oil-based enamel
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About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.