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How to paint motorcycle fairings

Updated April 17, 2017

Motorcycle fairings take a lot of abuse. Paint flakes off after miles of abuse from rocks, road debris and bugs. And, let's face it, sometimes motorcycles fall over, whether it happens in a car park or at speed. After a lot of wear and tear, you might want to paint your motorcycle fairings to keep them looking their best. Just be sure to schedule plenty of time because you want the paint to dry thoroughly between coats. Avoid drips, uneven paint and snags by being patient during the process.

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  1. Prepare your work area. Put a dust sheet on the floor to catch any paint splatters or spills. If you are not removing your windscreen before you paint, tape both sides thoroughly to protect it.

  2. Sand the fairing with 80-grid sandpaper, using straight strokes in the same direction. You can use a belt sander, or do this step by hand. For curvy areas of the fairing, you'll need to sand by hand to get into all of the crevices. Sand the outside of the fairing to remove all of the old paint and to prepare the surface for the primer.

  3. Repair any dents, scratches or holes in the bodywork. Your bodywork should be smooth before you begin painting. If the fairing has any damage, use a fibreglass repair kit to patch the holes, or to fill in scratches and dents. Once the repair work dries, sand it with the 80-grit sandpaper, ensuring that it is flush with the rest of the fairing.

  4. Tape over the headlights with masking tape. The better the quality of tape, the better your headlights will be protected. Make sure you cover all of the surface area of the headlights and that the tape is secure. If you have difficult curves to cover, lacquer masking tape is flexible enough to conform to the curves.

  5. Apply primer, using a spray gun or foam brush. A thick coat will fill in small scratches and give you a smooth surface. If you want your finished fairing to look its best, primer is a necessary step. Once it is applied, allow the primer to dry thoroughly.

  6. Once the primer is completely dry, rough it up with 400-grit sandpaper. Run the sandpaper lightly over the surface by hand. This will make the paint adhere better to the primer.

  7. Apply two coats of lacquer paint, using a spray gun, spray can or a horsehair brush. Each coat should be thin: the thickness should be just enough that the colour is even throughout. Allow enough time between each application for the paint to dry.

  8. Apply a top coat for protection and shine using a spray gun, spray can or horsehair brush. This layer should be applied in stages: apply three thin coats and allow each to dry before applying the next. Make sure you do this step after your second coat of paint has dried completely.

  9. Tip

    The fairing should be free from blemishes before you start painting, but the gritty surface left by the sandpaper makes the paint adhere better.


    Plug the mounting bracket and windscreen holes before you begin. You don't want to accidentally fill them in with paint. Don't apply too thick of coats: this may cause drips.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper, 80-grit and 400-grit
  • Primer
  • Lacquer paint
  • Sealer/top coat
  • Fibreglass repair kit
  • Paint gun
  • Foam paint brush
  • Masking tape
  • Dust sheet

About the Author

Elizabeth Dolgner is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Dolgner now works in the motorsports industry, writing for "2Wheel Tuner," "Roadracing World," "Grassroots Motorsports," and other publications. She is also an author and has published two books. Dolgner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Florida Atlantic University.

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