A well-maintained ride is easy on the eyes. Part of the motorcycle care protocol is to maintain the look of your ride. Whether preserving a classic look or creating a bold new statement, paint jobs will undoubtedly be involved. But how much does this cost? We researched this to find out what you can expect when planning your motorcycle maintenance.
The cost of a motorcycle paint job could range anywhere from $100 for a DIY job to a $30,000 custom job. A regular motorcycle paint job should cost you $300-$1,500. With this price range having as wide a spread as it does, it is important to differentiate what options are available when looking into a paint job. The three motorcycle painting options are Regular, Custom, and DIY.
What does each method look like through the lens of cost-benefit analysis? We’ll start by working our way through the list from the least to greatest out of pocket cost. Just keep reading.
Cost Of Painting A Motorcycle
DIY Paint Job
DIY culture has visibly permeated into every industry. It has an immense amount of online resources and step-by-step guidance. In truth, these tasks have become more manageable than what they were in the past. While many may be skilled enough to carry out such projects, there is a level of patience and attentiveness to detail that many of us do not possess. Most projects will cost between $100-$500. They may require professional intervention in the future to achieve more professional results.
Regular Paint Job
A regular paint job is the standard paint service automotive shops may provide. This is work that is carried out by a licensed technician and can run a ballpark figure of $300-$1,500. Typically, the technician will use professional-quality paint, and the project carried out in a designated and well-equipped area designed for painting.
Custom Paint Job
The custom paint job could run anywhere between $600-$3,000. However, outlier cases involving high-end motorcycles and highly specialized custom paint services in today’s marketplace could run you as high as $30,000!
Custom jobs always entail professional applications, highest quality paint products, industry-leading tools and facilities, and often one of a kind unique artist/fabricator branded merchandise. Custom work is also highly collectible.
Pressing forward, to best illustrate the options available we’ll paint a bike together. Before going into the technical procedures of painting, it’s paramount to select a color for your bike. This selection can make or break the aesthetic and simplify other cosmetic decisions you may be faced with down the line.
What is the Most Popular Motorcycle Color?
Historically, the most popular color used in motorcycle paint jobs is black. Black is sleek and versatile. The regularity needed to keep it clean and fresh is less than other colors as well. Having a black motorcycle gives you the ability to use intriguing accent colors and additional accent features.
Red is also an extremely popular motorcycle color. It’s a bold and sporty color.
Can I Paint My Motorcycle By Myself?
If you are performing this particular DIY project for the first time, then the first obstacle to overcome is having the necessary equipment and materials at your disposal. If you are not among the fortunate few to have access to a fully stocked garage, then you will need to acquire a few tools that are likely not to be in your arsenal. Spoiler alert, the workspace is equally important as the hardware.
It would be best if you started by staging the appropriate space that will act as the painting booth. Plastic wrapped walls, extra lighting, and a well-ventilated room should be on the list of must-haves. With a workspace set aside, the focus must shift to the hardware and odds and ends required.
When working with chemicals (like paint), safety is essential. Buying the correct respirator with the appropriate filter should not be disregarded.
3M 7162 Respirator
In automotive painting, we recommend that you use one or two paint guns, air compressors, air hose attachments, and a regulator with a water trap if possible. It is possible to use canned aerosols, but we advise against it if possible.
Non-paint compounds such as reducers, plastic filler compounds, putties, primers & hardeners, epoxy sealers, base color paint, and clear coat/hardener will also all be needed.
Pros Of DIY Painting
DIY painting is cheaper, allows for creative flexibility, and can be a fun experience.
If you happen to be so fortunate as to succeed in your project, then the cost of the project was worth it. Most motorcycle enthusiasts love an opportunity to be hands-on involved in their bike care.
Cons Of DIY Painting
The quality of the result could be inferior to a professional job. The time it takes to learn how to paint your motorcycle can eat up lots of your time.
If the project is deemed a failure, then it is wasted money. You may ultimately have to enlist the help of a professional to complete the task correctly.
How Long Does It Take to Paint a Motorcycle?
It depends on what you are having done. The way one project is staged could require multiple visits, while others may need none. Typically, the more complex the task, the greater the time required.
The steps for painting your motorcycle are as follows:
Remove components from the frame to allow access to all edges and areas for seamless painting.
Sand down the components to strip the vintage paint and rust, make apparent imperfections more visible.
Prime the components for painting.
Apply body filler to renew and remove surface damages and dings. When the components have been adequately prepared, they are ready to be painted.
Buff and paint until desired results are achieved.
Most paint jobs, automotive or otherwise, require a few layers and applications to achieve the best result. Some of the coatings may need to further dry and cure time, but by and large, the components are air-dried or baked within 24 hours.
What Kind of Paint Do You Use On a Motorcycle?
The paint composition, in this case, is irrelevant. While we are not chemists, the nitty-gritty details of production aren’t quite as important as how the paint should accomplish the task. Finishes that are glossy or matte are both viable options.
When carried out in any of the settings, it should come through either one of two systems.
A single-stage paint system is when the paint and protective gloss are applied at the same time.
A two-stage paint system is when the primary paint coat is sprayed, followed by a protective gloss.
Dupli-Color Acrylic Enamel
As the dollar signs rack up, it’s clear that any expense will only be worth your while as long as you can maintain the investment.
How Do I Protect My Motorcycle Paint?
Regular cleaning is essential. Waxing and polishing compounds will help extend the longevity of the cleaning while providing a little pop to the everyday look.
Chemical Guys Metal Polish
Of course, proper storage is essential. If you do not have a dedicated covered space to store your motorcycle, then protective coverings should be used to minimize the exposure to the elements. Tarp and covers can be bought for a relatively low cost but save you a great deal of money in the long run.
Opamoo Motorcycle Cover
There is no right or wrong way to paint your motorcycle, but whichever route you select, be sure to take the time and enjoy your ride. Check out these other VEHQ guides: