My experience with frame painting

Apr 17, 2013 at 13:24
by kevin heidorn  
Everyone eventually feels like they want a new bike, even if they are currently riding a pretty "trick" machine. It's an inevitability as sure as death or taxes. Sooner or later, the breaking point will be reached and the time will come to purchase said "new bike." Downsides and upsides exist when this happens, upsides being you have a "rad" new two wheeled girlfriend (or guyfriend depending on your sexual orientation for bikes), downsides being you will now have to learn to ride a whole new bike and the old bike will either be sold or parked. Also, your bank account will take a nice hit considering most new DH rigs on the market are in the $3-8k range, either way it's not ALL good. However, a solution exists which might be ALL good after all. PAINT! Ok ok yes I know what you're thinking. Seriously Kevin, who wants to do that? Who has the time? Won't it just come out like a WalMart bike paint job (Insert Cam Zink joke here)? Lets hope not, but if you follow the right steps and are willing to trade a few good weekends of riding for it, it could come out looking pretty damn awesome and you will feel like you are on a whole new bike. For me, I just went through this process and I wanted to share my experience with it. First and most importantly, THEIR WILL BE A LOT OF WORK TO DO IF YOU WANT IT DONE RIGHT, which you do so be prepared. Second, buy the right materials. Find an automotive body repair shop and get some high quality PPG paint. Often times they can color match or mix up custom colors for you so feel free to be as creative as you want. Third, have a plan and remember that symmetry is important so don't get too complicated with your design because whatever you do to one side will have to be done to the other. As a side note(no pun intended), if you are going to be doing any graphics of any kind be sure to get some high quality striping tape from the paint store. Finally, good prep is key and paint stripper beats sand paper any 'effing day! Prep time determines if your paint job will come out good so don't rush it.

The project for me was a 2007 Santa Cruz V10.2.

Now once, you've committed to the process the hard part begins. Get the thing apart and get the old paint off. Doesn't sound too bad, but be prepared to invest a good amount of time into this part. For me, it was a solid 3 and a half days of scrubbing, sanding, brushing, getting paint stripper in my eyes and on me from overspray, more sanding, cutting myself with a razor blade, more sanding and stripper, and some more. The weld lines were the worst to get clean and I'm not sure what kind of paint came from the Santa Cruz factory, but I swear it was armored tank paint or something because even the stripper was struggling at getting it off. Some tips I learned along the way would be to spray the stripper wait a few minutes and spray it again, then start scrubbing with a wire brush while it's still bubbling. Localized small area sections work best. I thought it would be a good idea to let it sit overnight and I could just come out the next day and wipe it off. Maybe with the gel stuff that works, but the spray on only has a small window of time that it's effective, so take that piece of hard earned wisdom into consideration. Once you get a clean foundation with minimal flakes you will start to breathe a little easier. You'll know when it's ready.

Eventually, all your elbow grease will lead to this.

Now you're ready for primer. Get some good "Aluminum" metal primer.

Let it dry and may the masking begin. This is also a HUGE part of prep so don't forget to take your time. GET YOUR LINES AS SHARP AS POSSIBLE.

Now the fun part, PAINTING. For me I have a little experience with painting, but this was overall going to be a learning experience. I don't recommend using rattle cans unless your only spraying one color. I would however recommend picking up an HVLP paint gun from Harbor Freight for $15. They work great if you keep it clean between sprays. Practice with the settings to get it set up right before you start spraying on the frame.

Finally, release the butterfly from it's cocoon of masking tape and reveal your new rad, custom, one-of-a-kind paint job that you have been dying to see.

Lastly, spray some clear coat and she will be looking pretty sexy and wet in no time.

Now put that thing together and go ride your fancy pants, new, one off bike that NOBODY else has.

For the record, I will be doing the fork black also as soon as I get time and she will be complete Smile


  • + 2
 Thanks, I wanted to contribute an article on what it takes because when I went looking for stuff before I started, I found that there was hardly anything out there of any reasonable detail. Hope this helps someone.
  • + 2
 Dude this is a sick article! Useful information, anyways great job on your bike as well!
  • + 2
 very nicely done !

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