How Do I Paint My Mountain Bike Frame

Mountain biking is mostly about looks and style as much as it is about adventure and healthy living.

Why? Well, because our bike is a reflection of ourselves, more specifically of our own attitude, personality, and preferences.

That is why DIY painting on mountain bike frames has grown in popularity these days. Painting your bike gives you the freedom to make your bike truly yours where there is no other person who has the same color and style as yours.

In this article, we are going to show you an in-depth process on how you can paint your mountain bike frame in the best and most convenient way possible.

Step-by-step Guide on Painting a Mountain Bike Frame

Step 1

The first thing to do is to first disassemble your bike. Your goal here is to just have the frame itself before you continue painting it.

Start by removing both of the wheels, and then work your way towards the bottom. Remove the cranks, drivetrain, brake set, cockpit, and then your suspension system which includes your fork and rear shock.

Make sure to remove the other attached accessories on your bike just like your water bottle holder and all the bolts in it. You surely don’t want to have these painted as well. You need to be very particular when it comes to checking the remaining components and parts.

Then place the screws and all the small attachments and parts in a ziplock bag. It would be best if you label them according to the category so that they don’t get mixed up. This will also make it easier to reassemble the bike later when you’re done painting.

Step 2

Now, it’s time to get rid of all the stickers and decals on your frame. Note, though, that you might have a hard time getting them off the frame especially if it has been years since they’re stuck there.

The first thing you can try is to sprinkle the area with the sticker with water and then slowly peel it off.

If it won’t, then you can get a blow dryer and turn it on while directly blowing hot air onto the area. This warms up the sticker and makes it easier to peel it off because the adhesive melts immediately.

You can use a putty knife as a last resort if you’re still having a hard time peeling it off using your fingers alone. If you are using one, you can have it lift the side edges of the frame’s decal label. Just make sure that you don’t scratch the surface.

Step 3

Now is the time for you to wipe your frame before sanding it. Make sure that it is free from dirt, debris, and other irregularities that can ruin the smooth texture needed to have an even paint job.

If you see that there is still remaining glue residue on the metal, then you can get a WD-40 spray bottle and spray it directly on the frame. Then wipe it off using a clean dry cloth.

Step 4

Get sandpaper with a light grit rating and slowly sand the frame. This is very effective when it comes to making sure that the new paint powder coating sticks to the frame itself.

You can use light grit sandpaper if your frame features a glossy or thick paint layer. This is very effective in removing old paint such as these.

Meanwhile, you can use hard-grit sandpaper that features a fine texture rating if you have a frame that has a matte paint finish.

The same goes for frames that are completely bare. You can also do wet sanding for paint removal on thin coats because thin coat surfaces can easily be removed with this, especially on steel frame bikes.

Step 5

Get a clean dry cloth and use it to wipe down the bike. This is the time when you need to let it dry. After that, get another cloth and soak it in soapy water.

Then wipe it on the surface of the frame. Use the other dry cloth again and wipe it dry. After that, you need to place tape on the areas of the frame you don’t want to get painted.

Make sure that your seat tube, bottom bracket, brakes, bearings, and threads aren’t painted because they are moving parts. Your bottom bracket is prone to creaking if you accidentally paint it. Including them when spraying can severely damage their mechanism.

Step 6

Now is the time to start the actual painting process. We recommend you set up a painting station outside your house to prevent any mess.

But if the conditions don’t permit it, then an indoor paint station will suffice. Just make sure that it is an area with proper and ideal ventilation. An example of this is a garage that has an open door or entrance.

Then place a lot of newspapers on the ground so that it can catch any paint that drips on the ground. You can also use a tarp if you don’t have newspapers in your home. If you have safety goggles, then we recommend you wear one. Wearing a dust mask would even be better.

Step 7

Hang your frame on a looped metal wire around your head tube. You can also use a rope. Meanwhile, if you are doing this outside, you can simply hang it on a tree branch, rafter, or any object where you can hang and suspend the bike frame securely without the risk of it falling down.

You can even hang it from the ceiling if you would like. The main goal here is to hang the frame in a place where you can go around it when spray painting it at all angles and corners.

Step 8

Slowly mount the frame on a secure table if you are having a difficult time hanging it somewhere.

If you are doing this, make sure that you use a broomstick around the head tube. Then securely clamp it directly on the table and ensure that the frame is secured and elevated enough so that you can easily spray paint around it later on.

Another alternative if you don’t have a sturdy table to paint on is to just mount the frame on any stand, desk, or any structure that can securely hold it off the ground surface. The main goal here is to suspend it in the air to have an even paint surface when doing a powder coat custom paint job on the head tube with masking tape.

Step 9

Get premium spray paint when it comes to painting the frame itself. There are many options out there available online or in your local hardware shops.

Make sure that the paint you are using is specifically designed to be used on metal surfaces. However, there are times when you might have a carbon frame.

Although spray paint for metal can be used on carbon frames, there’s a good chance they won’t stick properly. If this is the case, then it’s best you just don’t repaint your carbon bike frame.

It is also important that you avoid generic brands as much as possible. You might think that you saved a few bucks from it, but what you are actually doing is just jeopardizing the whole output and quality of your mountain bike frame.

Not only will it look uneven, but the paint would not also last that long and there’s a good chance you’re going to repeat the whole process again.

Also, be particular when it comes to choosing spray paint. If you want your bike frame to look shiny, then choose the glossy finish paint. On the other hand, choose the matte finish spray paint if you want a more unique and rugged look on your bike.

Step 10

Spray paint the bike frame’s first coat. This layer will serve as the base of the new paint colorway of your bike. It is recommended that you maintain a distance of around a foot away from your frame when spraying. Also, make sure that the can is constantly moving slowly.

Do not spray too hard or too long in a single area as you will have drop marks around it. Cover the entire frame and go around it until you see that you have already painted the entire surface.

There is a good chance, though, that you’ll see a few traces of the old paint even if you’re already done with the first coat. If you see some, then apply again by spraying another layer until the old paint is completely covered, aside from the bottom bracket.

Step 11

Once you’re done with the first coat, wait for around 20 to 30 minutes before proceeding with the second coat.

If you see that it’s already thick enough, then that’s the time you can stop and wait for another 20 to 30 minutes before proceeding with the third powder coating. The darker color you have, the more layers you need to spray.

Step 12

Once you are done with the final layers, then it’s time to spray a clear coat. This protects your bike from rusting and makes it look new. You need to wait five to seven hours, though, before you apply a clear coat.

You can go as many as three clear coat layers.

Step 13

Reassemble the bike. Put back on all of the parts you detached from the frame earlier, including the wheels

Let the bike dry for more than 24 hours in a spacious and indoor area with proper ventilation. Then reassemble it fully along with the bottom bracket and you are done.

Conclusion

Knowing the correct process in painting a mountain bike frame will help you save a lot of money because you just do it yourself.

What’s more, is that you can make your bike truly unique while implementing the exact ideas and styles you want for a more customized biking experience. Follow our guide carefully and you’ll be getting a cool-looking mountain bike in no time for sure.

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AUTHOR
Jomar Teves
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends. After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings. Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.