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Bored with the color of your bike? Let someone skilled in bicycle painting refinish it !

"Bicycle painting brought new life to my old bike."

Bicycle painting was not on my radar until about 7 years ago.  My wife and I bought a tandem and we didn't really think too much about the color of the bike.  When the manufacturer asked us what color we wanted, we just chose something, I would call it Champagne.  I had driven a car for a while that was this color and it looked really good on the car.  When applied to a bicycle however, the effect was not the same.

After having the bike for a few years, we decided we wanted to upgrade some components.  At this point the discussion about the color of the bike came up.  So, anyway, we talked about this and decided while the bike was back at the manufacturer's plant we would have them re-finish it.

You are probably at this point now, or why would you be looking for bicycle painting?

I don't want to burst your bubble her but unless you are very patient and diligent have a professional do it.  A can of spray paint and 10 minutes of sanding is not going to give you results that you will be proud of.

There is quite a bit involved in getting a bike to look just right and the price that a professional shop charges is well worth their know how.

Still if you are really determined, here are the steps of bicycle painting. Follow these closely if you want to have a good finish your bike.

For those who aren't up to bicycle painting or just plain want to have someone else do it, I'll put some links below in the paint house section.

Doing it yourself

The biggest thing to remember is that if you are going to paint the bike frame yourself, taking time and following through with the small details is where your paint job will show as being done well.

If you can't do this, leave it to the professionals. Many years ago I was into painting cars. I did several of my own, some more than once plus did several for friends of mine. I had a nice paint shop to work in because my family had a workshop for our fleet of rolling stock for our cement company. These trucks needed to be painted our touched up constantly. The guys in the paint shop there taught me a great deal. This carries over to what I am sharing here with bicycles. Painting a car or painting a bike, you have to do the little things well for the big job to look good.

To quote the guys from Velocolour in Toronto "Painting a frame is pretty simple. All it takes is skill, knowledge, patience, the right equipment (like a stripping tank, a large sandblast cabinet, multiple HVLP spray guns, a good spray booth, a drying "oven"). And did we mention patience, a lot of patience?"

Anyway, if you are going to attempt bicycle painting, you are going to need a few things to get a quality paint job:

  • Access to sandblasting equipment or a saint's patience to sand
  • Alternative to sanding could be a dunk tank for chemical stripping (better)bicycle painting
  • An air compressor
  • A quality paint gun (rent or buy one )
  • Or instead of a compressor and gun an HVLP system
  • Good lighting (cannot understate this)
  • Great ventilation
  • Time - you won't do this in an hour.

Step One:
bicycle paintingdown to this Take the bike apart.  Strip the frame bare.  Tape up the inside of the bottom bracket, seattube and headtube. The last thing you want to do is dig paint out of the threads. You want to get it down to this:

Step Two:bicycle painting
Prep the frame for primer by either sandblasting or hand sanding with a medium fine (220) grit sandpaper.  Alternatively, you could use a red scotchbrite which will not have clogging issues like sandpaper can.  If doing carbon fiber you will want to beadblast rather than sandblast (good idea for all frames to prevent warping). You do have beadblasting equipment right?

If you are going to chemically strip your frame I really wouldn't recommend doing it yourself.  The chemicals required to remove finishes could either damage your frame or your lungs if you don't know what you are doing.  Damaged lungs means less fun riding your bike.

Step Three:bicycle painting
Prep any pits or dings in the frame with body filler and wet sand smooth.
The best paint job in the world will be ruined by a poor prep job.

Step Four:
Hang the bike from a suitable hanger where you can spray the bike from all sides without changing the angle of spray from the paint gun. Changing the angle relative to the surface, I learned from painting cars, is a major cause of sags and runs (next to just putting on too much paint).
Laying your frame on the ground and spraying it will just ask for dirt and dust to get in the paint.bicycle painting  This will surely cause specks and fish-eyes, something you don't want to see.  Another cause of poor paint jobs is not getting the frame clean enough before painting.
Be aware that the paint will not just go on your bike.  It will go all over things in the area you are painting.  Over spray happens!
Put down a coat of primer.  White makes a nice color and puts a good base behind your main color.  Makes it pop.
Let it dry.  Lay down a color coat.  Let it dry, 24 hours is best.  Do a very light wet sand with 1200 grit or finer wet/dry sandpaper.  Lay down your clear coat. Let it dry, wet sand.Clear coat, let it dry. Wet sand, clear coat, let it dry.
You are done. Move on to Step Five.

Step Five:
Let the paint cure according to the paint manufacturer's instructions. Usually 24 hours between coats.  You put the bike back together too soon, the paint will be damaged and you'll have to start all over fixing your mistake.

Bicycle painting is more than just throwing some color down.  If you want a terrible looking paint job you will skip a step or two and just end up disappointed.

If you are looking to do it yourself, save some money on supplies and get them from eBay.

Professional Paint Houses

If you are looking for someone to do the bicycle painting for you, this is a good place to start.  These paint houses below are practiced in the art of carefully refinishing your ride.  Check with each on their requirements for disassembly and shipping.  Not every shop is the same in what what they need from you.

Powder Coating

bicycle powder coatingAustin Powder Coating - As well as bicycle painting, these guys do motorcycles.

bicycle powder coatingFive Star Power Coating - Some really nice two color fade jobs!

bicycle paintingPrecision Powder Coating - Let their photos show the results!


Paint Houses

If you want a traditional paint job instead of a powder coat job you have to be sure you pick the right shop to do your bicycle painting. When we had our tandem repainted, I used the manufacturer. It was convenient to have the parts put on and the color changed right there. They did an amazing job and I'll recommend them below.

bicycle paintingCalfee Design - These guys fixed my TT frame and offer some really nice refinishing options. Take a look at their site. 1st rate work.

bicycle paintingAirglow Painting - Check out these guys for a quality paint job.  Look through their portfolio for examples of what they have done.

bicycle paintingVelocolour - These guys have a really nice site showing off their Toronto shop.  Check out their gallery for some stunning paint jobs.




Davinci Design - These guys repainted our tandem with a great color changing paint job. I can't attest to them doing other brands of tandems but I can't see how it could hurt to contact them and see if they will handle your bicycle painting for you on either your tandem or single bike.

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