✓ TIP FOR SAVINGS: Check out whether you are paying too much for your motorcycle insurance
Compare quotes to save money
Enter your zip to get started.
Motorcycles are fun vehicles to have not only because they’re fun to ride, but they’re somewhat simple to work on and customize. I’ve restored more than 12 motorcycles and had my fair share in customizing them.
If you’re planning on restoring, customizing, or simply touching up your motorcycle, you may find yourself wondering about your frame and how to make it look better. The most common question I hear is “Is powder coating better?”.
Because I’ve restored so many motorcycles, I’ve been able to get a good idea about how powder coating vs. painting a frame works. I’m not going to tell you what you should do on your motorcycle frame, but I will tell you the pros and cons of each and you can decide from there what is the best choice for you.
Powder Coating Pros
First, I’ll start off with talking about the benefits and pros of powder coating a motorcycle frame. A powder coating is a substance that looks like powder and is spray all over the frame. (hence the name). It almost looks like a hairdryer blasting powder.
Powder coating on motorcycle frames requires that the entire frame be stripped. The frame must be stripped of the engine, seat and tank as well as the wiring harness and every bolt and nut. This is important because the frame will be placed in a large oven which could cause damage to other parts.
The best part about this job is that it is always done thoroughly. You’ll never have to worry about coming across a spot that was missed because a part was in the way. You’ll know 100% of the frame is covered and covered well with powder coating.
Powder coating a bike frame is a great option because it lasts far longer than other methods of painting. Paint jobs, as well as other elements, can be greatly affected by the sun. The sun and it’s UV rays can lighten up the paint, essentially sun bleaching it, which can leave you with light spots and a discolored frame.
Powder coating stops this from happening. Powder coating generally stays one color it’s whole life no matter how long you have it in the sun, rain, or snow. The bike’s powder coat will still look great 10 years after it was first picked up at the shop if it is well maintained.
Powder coating is also more durable than any other type of paint job. After application, the powder reacts chemically with the oven to form a durable coating. Powder coatings are often used on machinery that is mobile but maintains its integrity.
Powder coatings are less likely to be chipped if done properly. A regular paint job could easily become chipped from a rock or motorcycle tip. Powder coating protects against things like this better.
Despite the awesome outcomes you’ll have with powder coating your motorcycle, there are a few down sides to it as well. The first con I’ll mention is that Powder coating is not an option “do it yourself” You can do this project in your garage on a Saturday afternoon.
Although it is possible to purchase a powder coating kit, equipment and the necessary tools to complete the job yourself it will usually yield less crisp results than if you take it to a professional to have it done. Plus you’ll need a big enough oven to put the frame in to cure the powder which is something most people don’t have laying around. You’ll need to take it in to a professional and have it done.
Powder coating the frame can be more costly than painting. Prices can vary depending upon where you live and what work is needed to the frame. But, a powder coated motorcycle frame typically costs around $150. this usually doesn’t include any prep work done to it and does not include disassembly of your motorcycle.
If you want prep work done, your price will be more around $200 – $250. If you want the shop to disassemble the motorcycle and reassemble for you (if they’ll even do that), that’ll be at least another $200 – $300. You can paint the frame of your motorcycle yourself for only $50 to $60.
Powder coating a motorcycle frame takes much longer than painting it. When you’re powder coating a motorcycle frame, that most likely means you’re taking it in to a shop to have it done. It is important to follow their schedule and book an appointment. They can take several hours to finish the job and bake it.
Painting a motorcycle frame is when I refer to doing it yourself. You can paint a motorcycle frame by yourself. One of the benefits is how easy it can be.
Some prefer to take everything off the motorcycle and then strip it down to paint the frame. It is possible to paint a bike frame without having to remove the engine. You can still achieve great results with this method and it is much easier on your part. You can also do this in your garage on Saturday afternoons.
Both powder coating and painting your motorcycle frame yourself require some preparation. Preparation is crucial as it determines how long the powder coat or paint lasts on your frame. Preparation work can make your frame look as good as powder coating, but it will take less time.
The cost of painting a motorcycle frame by yourself is much less than powder coating. In the past few years, I have painted many motorcycle frames and the price was not more than $50-$60.
This includes the de-greaser, sandpaper, and paint. If they are able to do a decent job with the same results as powder coating, it may be worth the cost savings.
Cons of Painting
Each method of coating a bike frame requires preparation, as I have mentioned. Because they have the proper equipment, many people will pay to powder coat a motorcycle frame. When you paint a frame yourself, you’ll have to do the prep work yourself and you have to be thorough about it. You should not skip this step or your paint job may look messy.
I’ve made the mistake of doing prep work too quickly only to find that the paint started chipping soon after I painted the motorcycle frame. Bad preparation leaves grease and dirt on the frame that makes paint not stick.
Paint tends to be easier to scratch than powder coat. If a tool slips or you accidentally tip your motorcycle, you’ll most likely end up with some scratches or chips that you’ll have to spot treat with new paint.
Paint isn’t as durable as powder coat, so the harsh outside elements may affect the paint job which can also lead to chips and paint flaking off.
You run the risk of spraying paint on parts of your motorcycle frame that you didn’t intend to. While it’s great to do the job yourself, you may not know all the spots you should tape to avoid over spraying.
I have accidentally spray the engine with too much paint. Most motorcycle engines are made of cast iron and aluminum; if paint gets on materials like this, it’s almost impossible to get the paint off of it.
Whether or not you’re planning on restoring or rebuilding other parts of your motorcycle, you may be interested in an entire video series I’ve created about restoring a motorcycle from start to finish. Included in this video series are restoration tips and tricks you won’t find anywhere else as well as tutorials on hard to tackle components such as carb rebuilds, body work, and electrical. Click here if you’re interested in restoring or building your dream motorcycle!
What are some tips for motorcycle restoration? When restoring a motorcycle, I take lots of photos, label wires and parts, place small parts in plastic bags labeled with the parts number, budget time, money, have the right tools on hand, and join forums. You can click here for more details.
Is it possible to powder coat motorcycle wheels If the wheels are not made from aluminum, powder coating can be done. Powder coating aluminum wheels changes the chemistry of the aluminum when it’s placed in the oven. This can lead to catastrophic problems at higher speeds. Click here for more information.