I came across Spray.Bike a few years ago at a bike show and thought it was a great idea, if it worked. To this day I still don't know of anyone that's tried it. Beautifully designed custom paint work is now a hot trend in bicycle culture with bike shows full of frames painted to a level where you would be afraid to ever ride the bike for fear of a tiny scratch, but who doesn't love an incredible custom painted exhibition bike.
I've never really liked the slightly tacky graphics on my Giant TCX which were also starting to look a little worn, this led me to make the decision to give it a go, albeit with a slightly conservative, safe and simple choice of a matt black (Blackfriars 400ml £7.99) with a protective transparent/gloss finish (framebuilders transparent finish 400ml £7.99) the thinking being it would minimise the potential for disaster, ruining a perfectly good frame.
Spray.Bike originated at Vicious Cycles in Athens out of frustration with using automotive paint on bikes, so they went to a paint manufacturing company and developed a formula. Brick Lane Bikes in London then jumped on board and was part of the early testing process. Spray.Bike now has a complete paint system of preparation, paint (48 colours) and finishing products, that with a bit of time and a creative touch lets you get close to professional results in your own garage for a fraction of the cost.
Spray.Bike stand at this years Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show in Bristol, UK.
The bike before being resprayed, It was to be less of a complete transformation and more of a smarten up really.
I stripped the bike down and gave it a thorough clean, removing any dirt and grease.
Next up was masking off the brand graphics I wanted to keep on both the head-tube and down-tube, along with the UCI badge on the seat-tube. I also masked off any open areas like the bottom bracket and bolt holes with a clean-edge masking tape.
I gave the frame and fork a a light sanding down with a fine sandpaper and then wiped it with a damp cloth again. This was just to give the new paint something to grip too and was the moment of no return.
I tied the frame up so it hung in the open air, this meant I could reach all sides of the frame with one layer.
You could just as easily rest it on a wall or stand, spray it and then move the frame a few times, it would just take a bit longer to put the layers on. When spraying the fork I just held it with a glove on.
Let spraying commence
Shake the can rigorously for a few minutes to mix up the particles in the can. I applied the first layer, spraying up and down the frame smoothly, holding the can at the recommended 5-10cm away and keeping your hand moving at all times is critical to the results, so that you don't get a buildup on one area and a smooth, even finish. I would recommend practising a bit on an bit of tubing or something to get a feel for it, I then left if for 20 minutes.
Spray.Bike recommend then rubbing or buffing the paint with a lint free cloth to help compact the paint, assist with the hardening process and to smooth out any rough spots. After buffing it does give the paint a smoother finish. After each layer the canister nozzle does tend to block slightly so I would recommend wiping it down each time to ensure its clean. Shake the can again and spray into the air for a second or two before spraying the frame otherwise you can get blobs on the frame. I did two coats and a few patch sprays to cover up thin areas where I could see the old paint coming through. The beauty of it is that if you make a mistake you can actually lightly sand it and spray again and it will blend in. Its quite a flexible finish.
The paint formula they've developed is basically a powder coating in a can. It comes out like a dust and so doesn't run at all and dries to touch almost instantly. Initial impressions were extremely positive at this stage with a nice even powder-coat matt black finish, I was left grinning at the whole process.
After leaving it 24 hours to completely cure it was onto the finishing spray. This needs to be sprayed 20cm back from the frame and theres a lot less scope for error because unlike the paint, this finishing product does run if you overdo it in one area and will require you to gently sand and then respray. I would suggest edging on the side of caution and applying more thin layers, the more layers you add the more glossy the finish will be. I opted for a slightly more satin finish, applying two layers with a 2 hour drying time in between. There's enough in the can for 2 layers on a frame and fork.
I then left the frame and fork 48 hours (indoors) to fully harden before building the bike up again.
The finished product. In terms of a DIY custom paint-job I couldn't have asked for a better result, It is immensely satisfying and leaves you with a new bike day feeling. If you don't inspect too closely you would not think for a second that it's been resprayed. With hindsight I probably could have sanded down the old paint more to get rid of tiny dents and nicks in the frame. Spray.Bike do offer a spray-on Frame Builder's Smoothing Putty to fill rough patches or dents which can then be sanded down, leaving a base to respray.
For the two 400ml canisters it cost £23.58 including postage and it works on any frame material. What it really costs is a fair amount of time and patience though, bit with a bit of planning and some attention to detail you can create great results, I only touched the surface of whats possible with the range of products. For a low-cost and fun solution, to bring and old frame back to life or even just to customise your existing ride I couldn't recommend it more and this isn't a paid promotion!
Before and after
If you have any questions or want to know any further details on the process leave a comment or drop me and email and I'll get back to you. Also, let me know if you give it a go, would love to see some more results!
Head over to Spray.Bike to read more.