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Your dirt bike’s graphics and plastic body panels can be a great way to customize the style of your bike.
But, if you ride a lot or have bought a used motorcycle, you may find that your’s could use a bit of a touch up.
Luckily, cleaning up your dirt bike’s plastics and installing new graphics isn’t too hard.
With the right prep and patience, you’ll get your bike looking like new again.
How to Install Dirt Bike Graphics
If your dirt bike’s graphics have seen better days or you’re just looking for a fresh look, you can install some new ones yourself with the right prep and some patience.
Before you get started, you’ll need:
- Cleaning supplies.
- A sharp pair of scissors.
- A razor blade.
- Degreaser/alcohol-water solution.
- Squeegee to help remove air bubbles.
- New graphics.
You’ll want to work indoors, in a clean area that is warm and dry.
Be sure the area, your hands, and your tools are completely clean and dry.
Here’s what you’ll need to do.
First, clean up the plastic part completely to remove all dirt, oil, old graphics, and old glue. If your parts are scratched and faded, you may consider restoring them first (see below).
Clean and dry the parts completely before moving on to the next step.
Using a sharp pair of scissors, trim the paper backing as close to the edge of the graphic as you can. Remove the paper backing that covers and mounting or vent holes.
Take some time to do a dry alignment to make sure the graphic will fit and you know where to place it. You can make a pencil mark on the plastic part to help with alignment if needed.
Next, flip the graphic facing down on a flat, hard surface and remove the paper backing.
Use a sharp razor and ruler to cut the paper backing in the center to remove about ½” from the middle.
Reinstall the paper backing onto the back of the graphic, being sure to align the holes.
Align the graphic onto the part without sticking the exposed adhesive portion.
Once you’ve got it aligned, stick the center ½” of the graphic onto the part. Ensure that it’s properly aligned and you’ve removed all air bubbles – working from the center out.
Remove one half of the paper backing and slowly adhere it to the plastic. Again, work from the center out to remove all air bubbles and wrinkles. A squeegee and conservative application of a hair dryer can help smooth it out.
Repeat on the other side.
How to Restore Dirt Bike Plastics
Overtime, your dirt bike plastics will begin to look a little worn and aged. They’ll get dirty, scratched, and faded by the sun.
Don’t worry though, you’ve got some options to clean them up and get them looking new again.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Gloves and eye protection.
- Soap or plastic cleaner.
- Sponge or brush.
- Razor blade.
- Sand paper (wet/dry 80-1200 grit).
- Polisher, buffer pad, and plastic polish compound.
To start, you’ll need to clean the parts completely to remove all dirt, grime, and debris.
The older the parts are, the longer it may take to get them cleaned. A soak in warm, soapy water can often do the trick.
Next, you’ll need to get rid of the scratches and imperfections with a low-grit sandpaper and/or a razor blade.
When using a blade, be careful to keep it flat against the parts so as not to catch an edge and take an even deeper cut out. You’re only trying to scrape off the imperfections.
Once the parts are clean, you’re ready to start working your way up through dry and wet sandpaper grit.
Begin with an 80 to 120 grit to sand the entire surface of the plastic part.
Move up to progressively higher grits and finish with some stages of wet sanding in the 800 to 1200 grit range.
Take the time to wash off the part between each stage to remove all the plastic dust and debris.
At this point, the plastic should look a lot better than before, but may still be a little dull.
Now, you’re ready to polish them to get their shine and finish back.
Using an electric polisher with a buffer wheel and polishing compound, polish the plastic parts by keeping the buffer pad moving with light pressure.
Avoid staying in a single spot for too long.
Wipe it down with a clean rag, and your dirt bike plastic parts should be looking like-new!
How to Paint Dirt Bike Plastics
Painting your dirt bike plastics can be a little more challenging than the processes described above.
A good paint job requires proper preparation and the right type of paint. Otherwise, it’s not going to look good or last very long.
The best advice is to take your time and do it right.
Follow these tips to help you get started.
Be sure you’ve set up a work space that is clean, free of dust and debris, and well ventilated.
A spray paint gun is the best way to paint your plastic parts.
Step 1: Prepare the Parts
First, you’ll need to clean up and prep the plastic parts for painting.
Clean off all the dirt, grime, and everything else from the plastic.
Next, use a 180 grit sandpaper to roughen up the surface and remove any loose paint.
Once you’ve finished sanding, scrub down and wipe away everything with a scuff pad.
If you have access to a sandblaster, that’s another good option.
Finally, clean up the plastic with a plastic cleaner solution (e.g. Polyvance).
Step 2: Primer & Paint
Your next step will be to apply your coats of primer.
Be sure to select paint that is designed for plastic parts.
Apply the coats of primer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Use light coats and allow them to dry before reapplying another.
Once the coats of primer have completely dried, sand the surface with 320-400 grit sandpaper to prepare it for paint.
Use your paint gun to apply your base coats of color, and finish it off with a protective clear coat.
Remember, all the paint you choose should be designed to adhere to plastic.
If you’ve taken your time to set up a good painting area and have prepped the parts properly, your dirt bike plastics should be looking brand new.