My brother sold some of his belongings before moving in with us this past summer, including an old, '70s-bronze bicycle -- to me! Luckily, he cut me a deal and I kept it for $40, but hated the color. I had read online about spray-painting bicycles, and figured I'd give it a shot with this one. I think it turned out really nicely -- take a look!
To spray-paint your bicycle, you will need:
- A degreaser cleaning spray
- Plastic bags, painters tape, and deconstructed cardboard boxes
- Two cans of spray paint (I recommend paint-and-primer-in-one that says on the can it will bond to metal)
- A wrench/screwdriver set
- Camera or cameraphone
- Razor blade (optional)
A word of warning to the well-manicured: This project will fuck up your nail polish.
First, take lots and lots of pictures of your bicycle. Like, more than you think you will need. Of all the screws, the nuts, and the bolts. I used Kristie's wrench and screwdriver set to remove the tires. I tried to remove the handlebars too, but they were too rusted and stuck, so I covered them with plastic bags, which I taped into place. Do this for whatever you don't want to be painted. I covered the pedals, kickstand, seat, and a few other metal parts. I also tried to cover the chain and gear (although admittedly I could've done a better job).
Clean your bike thoroughly with the degreaser spray. If there are any stickers or decals on the bike, try to scrape them off with the razor blade. Use your sandpaper all over the frame in order to help give the spray paint something to adhere to. Clean it all again with the degreaser.
Once it's fully dry, lay the frame on cardboard and apply the paint according to the instructions on the can. Let it dry fully (or according to the instructions on the can) before applying another layer. Let that dry, then flip the bike over and do the same to the other side.
Here's where something weird happened. I don't have all the time in the world, so I spray-painted one side of the frame, then left it out for a few days before doing the other side. Well, in those few days (because this was September in New England), the temperature changed. It got cooler, and I had left the spray paint on our back porch.
When I did the other side a few days later, the paint immediately bubbled and dried that way. The temperature change didn't occur to me at first. I was so frustrated! I let it dry, sanded all the paint off, and tried again. Same story. So I drove to Home Depot and asked the paint guy what was going on. He was no help. Luckily, Katy and Kristie were on hand to point out the change in temperature. Since that was the only variable, it seemed like the culprit. We waited for a warmer day, and painted the other side. It worked! No bubbles!
I let the paint dry completely, then reassembled my new bike according to the photos I'd taken. I also added the metal basket that had been on my old bicycle. I love the way the buttercream color of the seat looks against the cherry-red paint. It's such a happy color. Now (Kristie is insisting) I need new tires, and I'll be all set! Amazing what a coat of paint can do. Have you ever painted a bike?