Customizing your bike shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be your legacy. Alright, maybe calling it a legacy is a bit over the top, but do you really need to invest a lot of money into a design to have your bike looking top notch? Unless you want your bike to be a show bike, in which you only take her out on certain occasions, then by all means go all out.
This post that you’re about to delve into is for the track riders, the stunt riders, and the riders who enjoy dressing their bike in a new look every so often. It’s fair to say, the more you ride, the more you’re concerned about the aesthetic appeal of your bike. Whether it’s the debris scratching your paint or an accidental tip over, customizing your bike again matters and the process for doing so can be a bit tedious. Nevertheless, we’ll give you some insight on a game-changing alternative.
There are two common ways to change the aesthetic appeal of your bike: Custom Paint and Vinyl Wrap. In this post, we’re going to shed some light on the underdog, vinyl decals. For each type of customization, we’re going to walk you through:
- Pros & Cons
- Our Favorite Design
History of Vehicle Customization
Before vinyl wraps and decals, there was only one way to customize your motorcycle – paint. A paint job will always be the elite option for true quality, design intricacy and durability on your bike.
There’s this indescribable feel that a well-done paint job leaves on your bike. It’s the same reaction for books. If everything is digital now and becoming more accessible, why do we still need to print books? Ask a book lover and they’ll find it hard to explain why they can’t let it go. It’s the power of the way it feels in your hands.
That is what paint is to the customization world. There’s no cutting corners with paint. Once the bike is painted in how it was envisioned, the look speaks volume.
Let’s take it back a bit further. The earliest form of decorative markings on vehicles goes as far back as the late 1890s when drivers would add numbers and other markings to their racecars for distinction during races.
Vehicle decoration switched from a sporty purpose to a commercial purpose in the early 1900s when companies like Hershey decided to advertise their brands on it. By 1926, vinyl chloride was introduced, but still as an advertising medium due to the high cost to produce it. Vinyl went through a series of technological advancements up until the late 1990s, but it wasn’t until the new millennium that the overall quality was much richer: printing on wider format for wrapping, better color quality and higher image resolution.
Amongst DIY enthusiasts, paint had its shine (no pun intended) for a century. Vinyl is like the new kid on the block still getting its feet wet.
Know What You’re Getting Into
They say, not everything that glitters is gold, right? The easiest way to make sense of the customization options is by looking at them like commitment options.
Redesigning your motorcycle with paint is like “buying” or “marrying” the look:
- It’s official.
- You’re sealing the deal.
- You’re going to make it work regardless of the outcome.
Using vinyl wrap instead, is like “leasing” or “dating” the look:
- You’re just testing the waters.
- You’re not looking for anything serious.
- You want to switch it up every now and then.
So where do vinyl decals fit in the commitment options? Vinyl Decals are the add-ons, the bonus options. Not really the third wheel, but the friend who came to support your date just to add some flare.
Custom Paint Job
On one side, there’s the wait, the patience and on the other side, there’s the masterpiece, the reward. A custom paint job is truly a distinctive look, but getting it for your motorcycle is a permanent look. Because nothing is really permanent (in terms of design), when we say permanent, we mean painstakingly, long, treacherous process to remove. Do you accept the terms and conditions?
- Design Intricacy: Although the same design can be digitally printed, close-up is where the difference comes into play.
- Enhancement Value: The type of paint job could positively impact the bike’s resale value. Conversely, customizing your motorcycle to a specific theme or personal interest may decrease the value of your bike due to what potential buyers are interested in.
- Clear Coat Application: Ain’t no shine like that manufacturer shine.
- Most Expensive: Layers on top of layers, plus the time in between it takes for each layer to dry is what makes the price increase. The deeper the shine and the complexity of the graphics… do you really want toppings with that?
- Manual Job: Due to the paint application being a manual job, like everything else there is a risk for error. You have to trust that the painter is skilled at what they’re doing. Any error in the application could lead to chips or fade after a while.
- Long Time to Complete: It could take about 2 weeks to complete, but that’s being generous.
For full custom paint jobs, starting price could be anywhere from $900 for a solid color to $1,500 – $2,500 for multiple colors. The price also fluctuates based on the complexity of the graphics/designs and the depth of the paint, as in the number of layers and coatings to give it that wet shine.
Do you have an air compressor, air hose, paint guns and a regulator? You’ll be doing the installation within a paint booth, right? Even if this is a one-time project, renting the equipment and the space are expenses that don’t fall into the total of the paint job. It is highly recommended that you leave it to a professional if you want the long-lasting, high quality finish for your bike. Besides cost and quality, be aware of the hazardous chemicals used in paint. Inhaling it over a period of time could lead to health side effects.
Moto Schemes Fave
Need a fresh look for Daytona Bike Week? Based in Lithonia, Georgia, Uptown Grafx is the paint shop to go to turn your bike into the center of attention.
2003 Suzuki Hayabusa
Anyone signing up for Team Vinyl is all about dressing to impress. Vinyl Wraps offer an extensive array of colors, finishes and graphic designs that paint does not. If you’re looking to show off your creative mindset or personality, vinyl wrap will be your spokesperson.
- Protection: High-quality vinyl wraps are known to protect your motorcycle’s paint. The durability within the material would protect the paint from sun exposure and abrasion.
- Unlimited Color Options and Finishes: Since the design is printed on the vinyl, you can let your imaginations run wild. What you envision can come true.
- Reversible: If for some reason you’re tired of the same look and you wish to switch to a new style, you can remove the wrap safely with no worries of damages to the original paint.
- Short Time to Complete: 2-3 days to complete
- Poor Installation: An amateur who installs your wrap improperly could:
- leave scratches on the finish of your motorcycle.
- leave sloppy edges along the fairings.
- risk the bodywork and paint getting corrosion if water gets trapped inside.
- Shorter Lifespan: The average lifespan of vinyl material ranges from 5 to 10 years, depending on the manufacturer. Once the motorcycle is wrapped, the actual lifespan fluctuates based on climate exposure.
There’s really only two costs associated with vinyl wrapping – material and labor. For a custom design, printed and installed could range anywhere from $600 to $1,000.
Installing a vinyl wrap is something you can do by yourself and within the comfort of your home, but to get a professional look would take some skill. It’s mainly because finessing the wrap around the contours and curves of your bike is the most challenging part. Although it can be a DIY project, it is not a solo project. To ensure that there are clean edges and no bubbles, you would need another pair of hands. On the bright side, at least the tools required are cheaper than paint tools.
Moto Schemes Fave
Attention to detail and preciseness are key when wrapping your motorcycle. Leave it to Aloha Custom Wraps to get the job done right.
2012 Yamaha R1
Aloha Custom Wraps owned and operated by Chris Hill. Wrapping with Aloha since 2012.
Vinyl Decals – don’t get it confused with stickers. Similar to vinyl wraps with unlimited color choices and finishes, vinyl decals differ in that you use it to partially customize your bike. Whereas vinyl wraps are meant to cover the whole fairings, vinyl decals are used to make certain areas on your bike standout.
- Graphic Placement: Flexibility in where your design is located.
- No Restriction to the Graphic’s Shape: Freedom to cut design patterns as you see fit; with vinyl wrap, your design is fixed once printed.
- Great Add-On: Supplement your existing style.
- Not Necessary to Buy All at One Time: Like getting a tattoo, you keep adding on.
- Color Restriction: Cannot produce multiple colors on one decal.
- One Shot to Get It Right: Peeling off graphic may damage the decal.
People who usually order vinyl decals order one-off graphics or lettering, which could range from $5 – $30. We offer vinyl decal kits that have themes for establishing a look ‘n’ feel for your bike. Starting prices for our kits are $100.
Like vinyl wrapping, the tools used for installing vinyl decals are similar. In fact, you could get away with using some of your existing household tools, but then again, if you want a clean, professional look, it’s best that you invest in the right tools. To get the installation done right, you’ll need a squeegee, heat gun, exacto knife and masking tape.
Minimal Camo Collection
Inspired by the traditional camouflage designs, the Minimal Camo collection brings shape to camo in a simplistic way. Feel free to add camo blotches in certain regions of your bike to sweeten the look.
2008 Suzuki GSXR 600
Check out our collections at motoschemes.com.
To Each Their Own
When designing a custom motorcycle, you have to ask yourself what you are willing to commit to. We could give you an extensive list of reasons as to why you should “date” the look… excuse us, choose vinyl over paint, but in doing so we would be deemed biased.
Team Paint vs Team Vinyl
|FEATURES||CUSTOM PAINT||VINYL WRAP||VINYL DECALS|
As you can see, there is no such thing as giving you an unbiased view; we sell vinyl decals 😂. However, as mentioned earlier, there’s no denying that paint is superior for its quality and aesthetic appeal. What’s it going to be? Marriage or dating?
Feel free to drop a comment below. Tell us which type of customization you prefer to modify your bike with.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest tips and hacks on designs, mods and more!