The world is undergoing a paradigm shift with the COVID-19 crisis, and if sustainability was already making a major impact on the consumer market prior to the pandemic, it will undoubtedly hold even greater importance in the future. Across the globe, experts in sustainability are lamenting the ‘throwaway culture’ that is leading not only to environmental disaster but also to a missed opportunity to give many old objects new life. If you love cycling and have family members who would love to take up the sport, why not repaint an old bike and give them a personalized gift they won’t forget?

Spray-painted bike
You might be surprised at how beautiful a DIY spray-painted bike can be. Image: Glory Cycles on Flickr CC BY 2.0

Disassemble the bike before spray-painting

You will need to reduce the bike to separate parts so you can ensure the paint reaches every single corner you want it to. Remove the front and back wheel first, followed by the cranks, bottom bracket, derailleurs and chain, brakes, front brakes, screws for water bottle, handlebars, seats, and front forks. The two components of the bike that will need to be painted are the frame and the forks.

Smoothening Out the Area to be Painted

You may have stickers you wish to remove before commencing your paint job. These can be resistant so heat them up with a hairdryer or heat gun then use a scraper to peel off the maximum amount of vinyl that you can. Use gloves to protect your hand against the heat. Try not to damage the paint beneath the sticker as it will help protect your frame against rust. Remove the sticky remnants with an adhesive removal solution.

Protecting Your Work Area

Protect your floor in the area you will be working in with unwanted fabric or a large plastic covering. Because spray particles are airborne, they can sometimes make their way to other parts of the home but don’t worry: spray paint is easy to strip. Depending on the affected surface, you can use a different DIY solution. For instance, if the paint has made its way to a metal surface, you can use baking soda and a little paint stripper to restore your bench to new.

Prepping the Frame

You will need to cover any area you don’t want painted with tape. It is pretty easy to work out which areas you don’t want painted; just see the parts the manufacturer kept in its original state. These include the posts for brakes, which need to stay metallic as other parts can slide over them well. You also need to protect the interiors of any ‘pipe-type’ structure that you twist a screw into, since pain will stop the metal threads from doing their intended job. Stand the frame on a wooden structure, securing it on a raised plank so that all parts of the bike you need to get to are easily accessed.

Getting to the Paint Job

Use a rust protector or primer to coat your bike frame. Keep the can around 10cm away and keep moving the can so that you don’t get globs of paint on any area of the frame. You should repeat this process to ensure everything is well coated. Once this first layer is dry, you can begin with color coats. You will need around two coats of color, followed by three to four coats of clear. Let the frameset for a full day between your coats of color and clear. Allow the frame to dry for a full week before you assemble the bike again. If you want to add stickers, do so before the clear coat layers.

You might be surprised at how beautiful a DIY spray-painted bike can be. This project will take patience and a small investment in cans of paint but the result can look as good as a professional job. Be sure to use trusted brands of rust-free primer, paint, and gloss and leave time for each layer to dry before starting on a new one.

How to spray-paint a Bike Frame
FAQ: Why didn’t you sand off the old paint before applying the new paint?
The maker of the video intentionally left the existing paint on the frame for the purpose of rust protection.
Jane Sandwood

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