The Bikes Way

painting my bike

Can I Paint My Bike Without Taking It Apart?

You love to ride on the bike. But it’s so yuck. It’s old and dusty; the paint is chipped and faded, the stickers are all wrinkled and coming off, and there are rusty spots where you can see metal through the splotchy green paint job. How can you make your trusty steed look new without taking it to a mechanic or spending a lot of cash? With a can of spray paint, of course! Believe it or not, painting your bike is easier than you might think. With just a little prep work, minor adjustments, and aftermarket add-ons (if necessary), you can give your bike a new look in just an afternoon — with almost no money spent.

1. Choose your paint color.

The first step in painting your bike is deciding what color you want it to be. There are a few things to remember when choosing paint for your bike. First, you want to select a color that will look good with your bike frame. You can’t just pick the fanciest shade under the sun and slap it on your bike — it has to look good with the frame’s natural finish. Second, you’ll want to pick a color that will stand out. You’re not going for a stealth bike where — you want your ride to get noticed. If you blend in with the crowd, you can always wear black. Finally, you’ll want to consider the weather. If you live in a windy, rainy area, you may want to steer clear of matte paints.

2. Decide on your paint strategy.

You’ve picked out a color, but do you want to paint the whole bike, just the frame, or both? If you want to touch up the edge, that’s easy enough. You can buy touch-up paint for just this purpose at almost any local hardware store. If you want to paint the whole bike, you’ll have to remove the wheels and the seat. You can do it all in one afternoon, but you’ll have a much better experience if you split it into two days. On day one, cover the wheels and the seat, paint the frame and let it dry overnight. On day two, cover the frame and paint the wheels and the seat. You’ll thank yourself for the extra time.

3. Mask off what you don’t want to paint.

Before you start, cover up any areas of the bike that you don’t want to get paint on. Use old T-shirts, painter’s tape, or even newspaper if you have nothing else on hand. You don’t need to convey colorations that don’t belong together with your brake pads or the inner of your wheel rims. It would be best if you also covered up your bike’s chain and the surrounding area with a rag or newspaper. You don’t want paint flakes in your chain, and the paint will help it last longer.

4. Prep the surface.

Before you paint your bike, you want to ensure the surface is ready to accept paint. The best way to do this is to sand it down with sandpaper. You can use a power sander, a sanding block, an orbital sander — whichever you’re most comfortable with. If you want a super smooth finish, you’ll want to sand it down as smoothly as possible. If you want a rougher, more weathered look, you can skip this step and move on to the next one.

5. Help yourself to a temporary buffer.

If you want a very smooth finish, you’ll want to sand your frame down and then use a buffer to get it nice and smooth. You can rent a pad from a local hardware store, but if you don’t have time or would rather not spend the money, you can also use a dry cloth or T-shirt. You can use the fabric to sand down the frame and then use it to wipe off the dust and get it nice and smooth.

6. Spraying the base coat.

Spray painting a bike is a lot like spray painting a car — you have to be more mindful of how you’re holding the gun, where you’re spraying, and how much paint is coming out. Before pouring, prop the bike up so you can easily reach all sides of the frame. You can prop it up on a table or a box, or you can use an old bike frame as a stand if you have one lying around. To start spraying, start with the frame. You don’t want to start with the seat or the wheels because they’re easier to get messy.

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7. More touch-ups and more drying time.

Once you’ve sprayed the frame, you’ll want to touch up any areas that got missed. As you go, you’ll want to check the edge now and then for drips and paint pools. If you notice any, dab them up with a rag as soon as possible, so they don’t dry. Once you’ve finished spraying the frame and any missed areas, let the paint dry for about 12 hours before moving on to the next step. Once the paint is fully dry, you can paint the wheels and the rest of the bike.


Painted bikes are more than just a pretty paint job. They are also great for safety and security. When your bike is old and faded, it is easy to overlook. When painted, it becomes one of the first things people notice. When you paint your bike, you are also making it safer. The paint protects it from rust and UV damage. With a freshly painted bike, you will feel proud to ride it.

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