You’re probably in the process of purchasing vinyl decals for your motorcycle and in need for a thorough tutorial on how and how to install them. Or maybe you’re researching ways to customize your motorcycle and you’re looking for a simple alternative to vinyl wraps.
In our previous post, we spoke about the pros and cons to changing the aesthetic appeal of your bike: Custom Paint and Vinyl Wrap. In this post, we’ll walk you through step-by-step on how to install vinyl decals to give your motorcycle, a clean and professional look. For a visual representation of this process, feel free to reference and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
It’s Not as Intimidating as it Seems
Do you remember in elementary school during arts and crafts, cutting out patterns and shapes, your favorite characters, thought bubbles and then making a collage from it? You would apply a ridiculous amount of glue to the back of the picture, just to squeeze it out in the end. But you knew for sure that the picture wasn’t going anywhere.
In a sense, this is where you relive those childhood memories. Applying vinyl decals is not as intimidating as it seems; it’s as easy as peel and paste. No messy glue to deal with; just the paper trail.
To an extent, the only thing that is intimidating is the planning process. With our vinyl decal kits, we offer patterns which opens up the possibilities for different look-and-feels and allow you to be creative on the final look of your bike.
Pros and Cons to Installing Vinyl Decals
- No Need for Professional Tools: Keep the money in your pocket or put it towards your next aftermarket parts because you can easily get away with installing vinyl decals using your household tools.
- No Prior Experience Needed: This is the adult version of arts and crafts. You don’t need a certification or to watch hundreds of YouTube videos to get it right. The margin of error to install is very minimal.
- No Need to Remove Your Fairings: Vinyl decals can be easily installed with your fairings assembled on your motorcycle.
- Graphic Placement: Whether you want to shift the decal from the mid-fairing to the tank or any other location, unlike vinyl wraps, you have the flexibility to change the placement of the decals at the last minute (before application).
- Numerous Possibilities for Final Design: With vinyl wraps, your design is fixed once printed. With vinyl decals, the opportunity to change the design is still available.
- Only One Chance to Apply Correctly: Cannot reapply decals once they are removed.
- Adhesive Restrictions: Usually not adhesive to the frame of your motorcycle or the inside of your fairings. In other words, be mindful of how you decide to bleed the design at the edge of your fairings.
- Planning Can Take a While: As silly as it may sound, most of the installation time is spent planning where to put the decals.
Installation should be completed indoors to avoid direct sunlight and wind as this will cause difficulties in installation. If you plan to install the decals in an outdoor setting, avoid extremely hot weather conditions.
Perform a dry fit of the decal on the motorcycle to determine the location of where you want the vinyl to go. Some decals may need to be cut to fit the contours of your fairings, so it may be helpful to draw an outline of how the vinyl will be cut.
Vinyl Decal Care
Never use high pressure water of any sort. Only use soapy water with clean soft sponge to wash decal by hand.
Tools Needed for Installation
If you’re involved with some aspect of maintenance for your motorcycle, the tools needed for installation shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. Again, you can get away with an exceptional job with just your household tools.
Some basic products and tools consist of:
- Lint-Free Cloths
A clean and smooth surface is essential to the adhesiveness, effectiveness and lifespan of the decals. It’s important to clean the motorcycle surface with car/motorcycle wash soap to remove all dirt, debris, and wax. If you’re having trouble removing grease, we recommend using an alcohol-based cleaner, such as isopropyl alcohol. Once the surface is free of grease, dirt or dust, thoroughly dry the surface with a lint-free cloth or microfiber cloth.
Place the decal against the surface of your motorcycle and secure each end or corner with a piece of masking tape. The longer the strip of decal, the more masking tape may be needed to hold it in place.
Apply a strip of masking tape vertically to the center of the decal, so the graphic can be applied one section at a time. Use your judgement. If you’re applying a longer strip of decal, it is easier to install by taping it down in sections.
From one section of the vinyl, remove the masking tape used in step 2. Hold down the backing paper while slowly peeling the premask away back towards the center. The vinyl should remain on the premask. Sometimes the smaller, intricate pieces do not stick to the premask. If they don’t, gently use the back of your nail to lift them from the backing paper and into place on the premask.
Cut away the backing paper with a scissor. Place the vinyl on the surface. Starting at the center, slowly make easy, overlapping vertical strokes with the squeegee. Now, remove the masking tape and peel away the backing paper on the other side of the vinyl transfer. Apply this section the same way as the other.
Wait 10-15 minutes to remove the premask. Starting from a corner, slowly peel away the premask directly across itself at a 180-degree angle. Carefully re-squeegee any areas that seem to lift. After the premask is off, wrap the squeegee with a microfiber cloth (to prevent scratching the vinyl) and go over the vinyl again, especially around the edges. Examine the vinyl for bubbles and prick them with a pin and squeegee the air out towards the puncture. A heat gun or hair dryer will assist in the removal of bubbles.
This 3-step tutorial will show you how to do a proper vinyl decal installation for any motorcycle. It’s a simple DIY application that allows you to flex your creative muscles with our pre-made designs. The possibilities are endless.
Camo Stripes Kit on 2008 Honda CBR 1000RR
Ease of Installing
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to have any prior experience to see the ease of installing vinyl decals. It does take some patience and if you enjoy DIY projects or hands-on activities, then this will definitely work in your favor as it will save you a couple hundred dollars from getting it professionally installed.
Craft Your Own Style
Our team offers design tips and consultation to help you craft your own style. If you have a particular style in mind, don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com and we’ll help you bring your ideas to life. Check out our pre-designed vinyl decal kits that are a universal fit for sport bikes.
Feel free to drop a comment below. Tell us what you think about the installation process for vinyl decals.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest tips and hacks on designs, mods and more!