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If you’re restoring a motorcycle, opting to powder coat some of the parts, like the frame, swing arm, and wheels can be a great way to get a professional looking finish.
Powder coating will allow you to take a bike back to its near-stock appearance or do something totally custom.
We’ll go over the basics of powder coating your motorcycle parts to help you decide whether it’s the right call for your current project.
Process for Powder Coating Motorcycle Wheels, Frames, and Other Parts
Powder coating is a process in which color is applied to parts using a method that results in a more durable, longer lasting finish compared to traditional painting methods.
The process for powder coating involves:
- Cleaning the parts thoroughly.
- Taping off any threads, holes, bearing seats, and anything else that shouldn’t be coated.
- Suspending and grounding the parts in a clean space.
- Applying colored powder that has been electrically charged.
- Baking the parts to “seal” the color.
Step 1 is making sure the parts to be powder coated are completely clean and free of dirt, grime, and rust.
Many powder coating shops will sandblast the parts before they powder coat them to ensure they are as clean as possible. Any debris or weak spots on the parts will result in an imperfect finish.
Next, the parts need to be taped off. Anything with threads or any holes where something needs to slide into (think engine mounts, frame tabs, etc.), should be protected from the coating. Otherwise, it can be hard to reassemble everything without needing to scrape off some of the fresh coating.
After that, the power color is sprayed onto the parts with a compressed air gun. As the color comes out, it is given an electric charge.
The positively charged color pigments then stick to the grounded metal part, creating a strong, uniform bond.
Powder that has made its way to places where it shouldn’t be, like inside the motorcycle wheel hub, can be vacuumed away before the final step.
Finally, the freshly coated parts are set to bake at about 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
The heat cures and sets the powder color, creating a strong bond.
Parts that Can Be Powder Coated on a Motorcycle
Since the process of powder coating relies on electrically charged colored powder adhering to your motorcycle, basically any parts that are made of metal are fair game.
Common parts that many motorcycle rebuilders will get powder coated include:
- Swing arms.
- Spoked wheels.
- Mag wheels.
- Solid wheels.
- Front ends and triple trees.
Reasons to Powder Coat Your Motorcycle
Powder coating your motorcycle can be a good option, but it really depends on the nature of your project and what you’re going for.
Before you decide to go the powder coating route, there are a few considerations you’ll need to make.
First, you’ll need to remember that powder coating will require the motorcycle parts to be disassembled and separated.
If you are doing a full restoration and complete tear down of the bike, powder coating may make sense.
However, if you’re only doing a minor rebuild or don’t plan to remove the engine from the frame, powder coating may be more trouble than it’s worth.
You’ll also want to consider what the bike is worth to you and/or if you plan to sell it.
Powder coating will add some cost and time to the project, but it will also result in a great looking finish that you may not be able to achieve with paint alone.
If you’re going for a showroom-stock look or a pristine custom job, powder coating can be a good choice.
Here are some other good reasons to powder coat some of your motorcycle’s parts.
First, powder coating is a good option due to the fact that the process results in an extremely strong, durable finish.
A powder coated part stands up much better to dings, rocks, debris, and other harsh conditions compared to a standard paint job and clear coat.
When you think about your motorcycle’s wheel, swing arm, and the bottom of the frame – that’s pretty much all they experience.
Long Lasting Color
A powder coat finishes color will typically last longer than paint as well. The color will withstand fading from the sun and other elements.
It can also better protect your motorcycle’s metal parts from rust.
Professional, Uniform Coating
The process of powder coating, when done correctly, results in a uniform even coating and color.
With paint, you’ll be susceptible to drips, uneven layers, over/under spray, and uneven color.
Since parts are typically sand blasted before they get powder coated, you can also rest assured that the finish has started with a solid foundation.
All that said, a good powder coating job is best left to a professional shop.
They’ll have the tools, set up, and experience necessary to do the job right and make it look good.
Cost Estimate for Powder Coating Motorcycle Parts
One drawback to powder coating your motorcycle may be the cost.
Compared to painting your bike with spray paint, powder coating it will be considerably more expensive.
Most powder coating shops will charge per part with prices that are typically dependent on the overall size of the part to be coated, the color/pigment, the finish appearance, etc.
If your parts are not already cleaned, there will typically be an extra charge to strip any old paint and sandblast them.
In general, the larger, more complex the part, the more expensive it will be to get it powder coated.
Prices will vary from shop to shop, but some cost estimates for commonly powder coated parts are as follows:
- Sand blasting & cleaning: $20 – $100.
- Frames: $300 – $800.
- Swing arms: $100 – $300.
- Wheels: $100 – $250.
Most shops will charge extra for candy colors and metallic finishes.
Painting vs. Powder Coating a Motorcycle
As you can see, powder coating definitely has its benefits over painting the parts yourself.
If you’re doing a full tear-down restoration, powder coating some of the parts may be something to consider.
The nice thing about spray painting your parts is that you can do it for much cheaper and finish it a lot quicker than if you were to get them powder coated.
Additionally, you’ll be able to do it yourself. Powder coating should definitely be outsourced to a pro.
If you’d rather try to paint your parts yourself, you can find some tips on how to paint a motorcycle here.