How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Motorcycle?

I. Introduction


Every motorcycle owner is proud of his/her motorcycle, and wants it to be unique in its style. Painting can be a great way to express or to display your style on the motorcycle. You can completely customize the painting of your motorcycle to impress your family and friends.

In this article, we shall discuss the following topics- When or why you should paint your motorcycle? Different ways to paint your motorcycle, how much does it cost to paint a motorcycle, and answer some frequent questions about painting a motorcycle.

II. When or why you should paint your motorcycle?

The answer to the question ‘when’ partially depends on you and your passion.

For a normal person, it is natural to think of getting his/her motorcycle painted after using it for several years (maybe 7-8 and the painting has faded), or if the motorcycle is damaged in an accident or if you have purchased a used motorcycle and want to bring it back to life.

However, if you are a person of passion and style, you may not like the look of your brand new motorcycle, and want to get it painted (at least some major parts like gasoline tank) to express your style.

The answer to the question ‘why you should paint your motorcycle?’ can be many:

  • Your motorcycle has become old and out of style. You can get your motorcycle painted to bring it back to style in line with the latest trends.
  • You have purchased a used motorcycle and want to bring it back to life. Nobody feels good about riding a motorcycle full of scratches, and worn-out paint, even if the motorcycle is in good running condition. Painting an old motorcycle to your style and personality makes you feel better when you ride it.

Also, a well maintained and good looking motorcycle fetches you a good price if you decide to sell it off and go for a new motorcycle.

III. Different ways to paint your motorcycle

There are three basic ways to get your motorcycle painted.

  • Custom painting to your style
  • Painting at your local automobile painting garage.
  • Do the painting yourself (DIY)

1. Custom painting to your style (Professional painters)

If you are a person of passion and want to express your style and personality through your motorcycle, custom painting can be the option for you. However, be prepared with your valet, this is not a cheap option.

Also when you get a quotation for custom painting, it may be for a few parts of the motorcycle eg. gasoline tank and fenders, and not for the complete motorcycle. Hence, when you inquire about custom painting, be clear about your requirements.

The custom painting by professional painters is a perfect and assured way to make eyes turn towards you when you ride your motorcycle on the road.

The custom painting is not only about painting, and it can include customization of the external parts like side boxes (saddlebags), fuel tank, side covers, etc. Custom painting takes time.

A portion of the painting cost goes towards removing the existing paint, removing dents if any, and applying primer. If you want to save some money, you can do this basic work yourself and negotiate with the professional painter for a price reduction. This way, you will feel happy for involving yourself in the painting of your motorcycle and save money too.

Remember that a good custom painter is basically an artist who can transfer your ideas and passion into reality. Before zeroing on a particular person for the custom painting of your motorcycle, ask the person to show the photos of his or her previous work, and ensure the capability.

The professional custom painter may be having software to show how your motorcycle looks with the selected artwork. You may view it, and modify it if necessary before the actual painting is done.

You can also hire an artist on a freelancing website to come up with art designs, and request the professional custom painter to use it for your motorcycle.

A custom painted motorcycle can achieve a higher price when you decide to sell it.

2. Your local motorcycle paint shop

There will be an automobile painting garage in every town, including yours. You have to locate a garage in your local area that does a good painting job.

The painting work done at your local garage meets the basic requirement of painting eg. it makes your motorcycle looks better, and protects the motorcycle parts from rust and corrosion. You cannot expect to display your personality or style when you go for standard painting.

The work that precedes the painting, viz. removing the existing paint using sandpaper, removing the dents if any, applying the primer (base for painting), making the surface smooth by applying filler paste, etc. will consume time and labor and costs money.

Doing this preparation work becomes easier if you can dismantle the parts to be painted. You can offer to assist the painter by dismantling all the parts of the motorcycle to be painted, do the preparation work, and assembling it back after painting, to save money.

3. DIY-Do It Yourself

Doing the painting of your motorcycle yourself is an easy way of saving money, but doing the painting is not easy. If you are young, want to learn new things, and have the patience and interest to do it, you may go for it.

Before attempting to paint your motorcycle yourself, read about how the painting is done, and check good DIY painting videos.

If you know a local automobile painter, consult him, and finally, make a list of the equipment and paint required.

You will need (i) an open area to prepare for painting and the actual painting (ii) a spray gun (iii) compressed air (iv) hose connections (between the compressor & spray gun) (v) sandpaper to remove the existing paint (vi) primer (vii) filler paste to apply and rub to make the surfaces even before painting and (viii) paints of your choice.

If you have a sander machine, you can use it for removing the existing paint. You can also try a paint remover to remove the existing paint if it helps.

Painting becomes easy if you can take out (dismantle) as many parts as possible (parts to be painted) including the fuel tank (drain of the fuel before doing this). If you do not have the experience of dismantling the parts of the motorcycle, talk to your friend or a mechanic, study the owner’s manual, and understand the work involved completely before doing it. Take photos at every stage, and it guides you when you are putting back the parts on your motorcycle.

Different steps in a DIY painting can be:

  • Select an open area or a place with good ventilation and a fan.
  • Wear your safety goggles, face mask, hand gloves, and shoes.
  • Dismantle and take out all the parts to be painted (please see above paragraph). Take photos at every stage. Collect all the small items like fasteners, pins, seals, etc. in a box.
  • Remove the existing paint from the parts using rough grade sandpapers, sander, or a paint remover.
  • Check for surface dents and correct them (if you cannot do it get it done from a mechanic).
  • Clean the surfaces to be painted with kerosene and wipe them dry and clean.
  • Apply two coats of good quality primer and allow it to dry.
  • Apply filler paste and rub the surface smooth by using water and fine-grit sandpaper and allow it to dry.
  • Cover the areas not to be painted with waste paper using stick tape.
  • Use the spray gun to paint with the color of your choice. Paints are mixed with the thinner in a proportion advised by the manufacturer, read the instructions on the paintbox before using it. (If you are painting for the first time with a spray gun, do some trial painting on scrap pieces and learn how to use the spray gun).

There will be a lot of painting fumes and it is not healthy to inhale them, hence, wear safety gear. Remember, paints are inflammable. Use the fan and full ventilation if you are working inside.

Painting the selected areas only (repair job)

If you think that the painting on your motorcycle is good except for one or two parts (like fender or side panels), you can think of painting only those selected parts. This will be a cheaper option (whether you do it at your local garage or DIY). However,

one thing can be sure, it may not look very good, since the shades of old and newly painted parts do not match.

Using decals

When you do the painting of your motorcycle at your local automobile painting garage or DIY, you can think of using decals for the gasoline tank or the fenders, to improve the looks of your motorcycle.

Vinyl motorcycle decals (laminated for a durable and good glassy finish) are available for motorcycle tanks, and fenders and they shine like wet paint in daylight. You can search on Amazon and see if some decals are there to your liking.

IV. How much does it cost to paint a motorcycle?

This is a tricky and difficult question and depends on where you are living and what type of painting you are planning.

Obviously, custom painting by a professional artist will cost you the highest and the actual cost can be from 1000 to 3000 USD (considering a moderate artist painter) and the cost can go up drastically if you want the services of the top-rated artist painter.

Also when you get a quotation for custom painting, it may be a custom painting of a few parts of the motorcycle viz. gasoline tank and fenders, and not of the complete motorcycle. Hence, when you inquire about custom painting, be clear about your requirements.

Painting at your local automobile painting garage can cost you from 400 to 1400 USD or more (depending on the condition of your motorcycle).

If you decide to do the painting yourself, the cost will come down drastically. Assuming that you have the basic equipment (spray gun, compressed air, connecting pipes, etc.) for painting, you need to spend for only paint, primer, and consumables and that can be from 150 to 500 USD, depending on the choice of the paint.

Also, the cost of painting depends on how much painting is to be done, complete painting including chassis, or only the selected parts like a custom painting of the tank.

V. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1How much does a professional artistic custom paint job cost for a motorcycle?
It may cost upwards of USD 1000 and the maximum cost can be even USD 3000 or more. The cost of an artistic custom painting depends on your motorcycle condition, how many parts are to be painted, what is your specific requirement, and above all your selection of the professional. Reputed artistic custom painting professionals will cost you more.
2Can I do the painting of my motorcycle myself?
Yes, you can do it, provided you have the energy, inclination, and patience to learn and do new things. Before attempting, you must know and be confident of disassembling the parts to be painted from the motorcycle and reassemble them after painting.
Also, you should learn more about the painting process by reading books and watching good videos. Lastly, you should be able to purchase the painting equipment (including a compressor) required for spray painting.
3Is the frame of my motorcycle powder coated? Can the powder-coated frame be painted?
Most of the motorcycle frames are powder-coated since 1995, and if your motorcycle is made after 1995 most probably it’s powder-coated. Powder-coated frames can be painted, after removing the powder coating.
old powder coating can be removed by bead blasting, or by using a sander, or by applying a powder-coating remover (liquid or paste). Once the old powder-coat is removed, you can go for painting or re-powder coating.
4When should I think of painting my motorcycle?
Normally, your motorcycle requires painting after 10+ years of use, or if the motorcycle gets scratches and paint damage during an accident, or if you have purchased a used motorcycle. Of course, there are riders with passion, who purchase a new motorcycle and want to get some parts of it custom painted
5Does painting my motorcycle increase its sale value?
Yes, a well maintained and good looking motorcycle has higher resale value.
6Custom painting, or painting at local automobile painting garage or DIY, which one is good for my motorcycle.
You are the boss here and take a calculated decision. If you can afford to spend your money to express your style and passion, you may go for custom professional painting. If you have a low budget, you can opt for painting your motorcycle at your local source, and if your budget is meager and you have time to spend, you can attempt ‘DIY painting’. The DIY method has an added advantage, if you come out good in this, you can earn money by offering your services to others.

VI. Conclusion

A nicely painted motorcycle gives a good feeling to its rider and also catches the eyes of others on the road. Every rider wants that his motorcycle looks good. How much can you spend on the painting of your motorcycle depends on how much you can afford.