Priming Your Bike For Paint
Primer is a lot like motorcycle paint except that it is designed to fill the microscopic gaps in the metal you are painting to make it stick like paint doesn’t. This is the main reason why primer is so important. A good primer like VMR Paints Urethane epoxy primer is made to go on in 1 or 2 coats and create a bond between the bike and paint that prevents a whole laundry list of potential problems that can come up in terms of paint adhesion.
Before you can shoot the primer, you need to mask off anything that doesn’t need paint, like the fuel filler and underside of the tank for example. Using a good quality tape can save you from some of the trouble that cheap dollar store masking tape can cause. Again, this whole process is meant to be something you won’t do again for a long time, so don’t cut corners on something like a roll of masking tape and end up with overspray on parts of your tank.
One thing that you should absolutely not skip is a last second wipe down of your surface before you spray on your primer. Take a tack cloth and thoroughly wipe down the whole surface you plan to prime to remove any and every little speck of dirt and dust that may have landed on your tank. This is CRITICAL!
Some primers out there are filler primers, which means that they are formulated with a built in filler to help smooth the primed surface even further. This can fill in minor scratches and just smooth things out.If you end up sanding the surface at all to get things as perfect as possible, just prime it again and you should be great..
Here is a good short video of a guy priming a tank in a home shop:
At this point you can also assess if using a spray putty would be right for your project. If you inspect the surface you are painting and find minor scratches within the primer, spray putty can be a great way to fill these. There are a variety of spray putties, but they will all suggest a few coats followed by sanding. Just go with the instructions on your particular spray putty. Sand it all back out working back through the various grits of sandpaper. If you do happen to stumble upon defects bad enough, you can still go back as far as you need in the process right now and work back to finished.
Now that you have the tank primed and ready for action, it is time for some motorcycle paint. Click here to start learning about painting with aerosol, or check out our section on using a spray gun to get started painting your motorcycle - or start with our fundamentals of Motorcycle Paint.