Introduction: Anti-Theft Bike Painting

Picture of Anti-Theft Bike Painting

This is how to "uglify" your bicycle to prevent it from being stolen. I purchased a new bicycle and it was stolen 6 days after buying it! And I had to buy a second one. It was stolen because it "looked" like it was expensive with bright blue stripes and chrome even though it was pretty cheap. This instructable will show you how to paint your bike to give it an unique look as well as deter thief.

Step 1: Get Supplies

Picture of Get Supplies

For this step you need:
1 bicycle
1 roll of masking tape
1 can of flat black spray paint
1 can of florescence orange paint

I used Krylon Flat Black Spray Paint, Valspar Orange Fluorescent Enamel and Scotch Masking Tape for a total of $13.63 with tax.

Step 2: Strip Down Bike

Picture of Strip Down Bike

Before you can start painting to you need to remove the wheels and any other things on the bike. For my bike, I removed my bike lock mount and my water bottle holder. You will also need to lay down some newspaper as a shield for painting

Step 3: Paint the Bike Black

Picture of Paint the Bike Black

You will want to paint the whole bike flat black. Use large, even strokes and spray the A-frame, the front fork and the rear frame. Make sure to get the underside of frame as just spray painting from the side this spot will be missed. A handy tip is to place masking tape on the contact surface of the brake pads. This prevents any paint from interfering with your braking when you first re-assemble the bike.

Step 4: Apply Masking Tape

Picture of Apply Masking Tape

We are going to paint orange stripes so we need to place masking tape where we want black to remain. Take 6" stripes and wrap them around the tubular frame. Space them out about 3-4" apart. Add some on the front fork and rear frame. Additionally you can add a stripe to the petal cranks and to the kick stand.

Step 5: Paint the Bike Orange

Picture of Paint the Bike Orange

Any bright fluorescent paint will work. I picked orange. Spray in between the masking tape to paint the stripes. It takes some work to not over spay and mess up the contrast. You can use the black paint a second time to do some repair work.

Step 6: Remove Masking Tape

Picture of Remove Masking Tape

Carefully remove all the masking tape that you applied earlier. Depending on how well you wrapped it there may be a bit of bleeding on the edges. You don't really need to worry about this as if it looks bad then it is less likely to be stolen.

Step 7: Re-Assemble Bike

Picture of Re-Assemble Bike

Time to clean up and put back the on the wheels.

Step 8: Enjoy

Picture of Enjoy

Time to drive around and show off your new bike.


TheresaK22 (author)2016-08-06

My cheetah bike. I miss it : (

TheresaK22 (author)2016-08-06

Boooo i had my poor ike stolen right out from front door under a garage overhang of my group beach house in Dewey beach DE. It was a 45$ used bike with a nice blue paint job but since my generic new cheapy from Walmart got stolen i decided to customize it immediately. Materials cost more than the bike. Everyone in town knew it was mine. If i lent it to a friend, they'd get yelled at. Got nearly 3 seasons out of it. My name and phone number is painted underneath it. No one would want to paint over this

BikeMechanic (author)2014-04-04

As a bike mechanic, please, please never do this to your bike. Painting a frame without removing all the proper moving components will wreck them. For example painting the crankset (the big gears in the front) makes the crankset harder to remove, and the bearings that are inside the frame that allow the crankset to turn will likely become gunky making you work harder. The same concept applies to the steering. Painting the brakes themselves can make the small bushing that allows them to pinch and release can become wrecked, making the brakes harder to apply, and possibly causing them to stick shut. Painting the cables can add to this effect. If you do decide to do this you should probably do your own repairs, or be ready to have your local shop mechanic tell you the labor rate just doubled to pay for all the beer I'm gonna need to withstand the aggravation of having to remove parts that have been painted into the frame.

If you really wanna keep it safe Chicago Style, use a u lock to lock the frame, rear wheel, and a looped cable for the front. take the seat out because this makes it a chore to get away on. bonus points if you take out your front quick release skewer with you, then if they manage to get through the lock they'll be in for one hell of a road rash surprise when the front wheel ejects. this has kept my 4k race bike nice and safe. the name of the game is discouragement. they're looking for a quick easy buck, so if you make em work for it they'll usually walk on down the rack and go for something easier.

EcoExpatMike (author)2013-07-29

It would have been amazingly cool to STENCIL your name all over the bike in the fluorescent paint.

And that way there is NO WAY anyone could say "I didn't know it wasn't (whoever) bike..."

redurtni (author)2013-05-30

thanks god you don't have a lamborghini ;)

pcorbett (author)2012-12-27

Looks too nice, it still has good parts on it. My friends son went too college this year and I told him to do an ugly paint job to help prevent theft. He made a fixie with no kick stand and miss matching pedals and grips. I suggested he paint radomly with many colors without masking anything and to spray hubs, spokes, bars, and even some tire. I haven't seen it but he has it still. It's like a fingerprint, it belongs to one person and everyone knows it. The down side is the small town syndrome, everyone knows where he is.

Xthinker (author)2012-08-29

That bike looks terrible!!!!

You're welcome. :P

CaseyCase (author)2010-07-04

Spray your bike with 3M spray adhesive and then apply pubic hair and fingernail clippings onto the bike. Winner!

huh... that gave me an idea... i have 3 old bikes, lots of spray glue, a pile of orange shag carpeting, and oodles of bubble wrap....

Advar (author)CaseyCase2012-07-22

Sickk, dude... love iit!

CaseyCase (author)Advar2012-07-22

I'm here for entertainment value only.

djsc (author)2012-06-26

If I ever get a bike that costs more than the lock I use I will stencil the word 'probike' onto it (notoriously crappy catalogue bike), that should keep the thieves away unless they are just grabbing them for scrap metal of course.

Tim Temple (author)2012-05-07

How about rust colored Rustoleum?

How about a duct tape patch on a perfectly good welded joint?

theRIAA (author)2009-07-01

what kind of lock are you using! Go to the store and buy 2-3 feet of the thickest chain they have and wrap it in fabric/rubber. Chain it to your bike with a padlock, thicker than the chain. Make it easier to cut through the city's bike rack then your chain! The only comparable lock to this one costs over $100. Just go buy thick chain for cheap! don't get "U" locks, they can be opened with a car jack or just a hammer. don't get "cable" locks, those are the worst. If they cant just cut through them with heavy duty snips, they can pry the ends of the cable out of the crimping on the end with 2 long metal bars or vice grips. I use a super small cable lock to lock my seat to my frame, that's all I trust it to do. The only thing they can do to a chain and lock is cut it or pick it! This is too much work for most thieves!!! Never buy any bike lock you wouldn't trust to hold your weight if someone threw your off a cliff! nice instructable and nice bike. I always like a custom paint job, it not only deters thieves, it makes your bike feel more like your own.

flio191 (author)theRIAA2009-07-19

not the thickest chain, but made with HARDENED STEEL, cause even the thickest chain made with non-rust metal can be cut through. i use two types of locks, one Onguard pitbull U lock and a cable lock to secure the front wheel. But i guess this also depends on where you live...

Houdinipeter (author)flio1912010-08-20

i just keep mine in a public space so when someone goes to break the lock a passerby stops them. Only really applies to daylight though.

noahh (author)Houdinipeter2010-10-20

Tim Temple (author)noahh2012-05-07

The cops look for someone who looks afraid and guilty. They'll flash a frown at you to see how you respond.

One time I went into the Pentagon with no reason for being there. They set up a Checkpoint Charlie for going up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff area. They were inspecting senators and generals. I walked by with a confident smile and waved at them. They frowned, but I acted like I owned the place. They went back to work as I breezed on by. They have all these paintings in the halls and bored personal secretaries standing in the doorways, talking to each other across the hall.

Sounds4cc (author)noahh2011-08-05

WOW, Love it!!! Thanks for showing me where to get FREE electricity (light pole plug), is that common?

noahh (author)Sounds4cc2011-08-05

I think so, but they're probably mostly locked.

criggie (author)noahh2011-06-21

Hector the Protector ?

Furball_Fidelis (author)flio1912011-09-03

I have anon Guard U lockand it's great...and I got a On Guard Cable to go with it...unbreakable...and the cable is made of twisted cables on twisted cables upon more twisted cables so bolt cutters don't work...

theRIAA (author)flio1912009-07-19

lol, I always rush to the already-rusting chain, yes! I used that at my college on an old rusty road bike with suicide shifters and a green plastic basket in back. The campus was filled with $1000 road bikes locked up with either shoelace-thin cable locks, or that thin, twisted, non-welded chain made for hanging florescent lighting. Also full suspension mtn bikes (good ones) locked only through the front quick-releasable wheel. or my favorite! A mtn bike electric hybrid with expensive looking battery pack locked to our big rebar upside-down "U"s sticking out of the concrete... except the lock doesn't go through the "U", just around the outside... yes it depends on where you live.

futeng (author)theRIAA2009-08-25

You should make an instructable on this. Just a suggestion

dyly (author)futeng2011-05-06

on stealing bikes???

futeng (author)dyly2011-05-06

By talking about how he steals bikes, he can help others prevent their bikes from being stolen

dyly (author)futeng2011-05-07

well based on that video, any bike can easily be stolen, unless you keep it with you at all times - or lock it inside your office or an inside room.

Phoghat (author)flio1912010-04-18

Absolutely. You've got to use case hardened chain.

2 stroke (author)theRIAA2010-09-20

rap it with bike inertube thats what i use

Aron313 (author)2012-03-03

I would steal it! If i was that kinda guy! :D

deathsmileyinc (author)2012-01-27

i live in holland and here its save to assume that a bike that is painted is stolen. they are painted so the original owner wont reconize it.
i believe there are more bikes than people in holland so most people stopped caring and started buying stolen bikes or steal them by themselves

FuriousWolf777 (author)2011-12-31

Happy Holidays e 1!!! I am a Newbe here...Wow i think i have found my new home lol. hmmm , really doo smile. ok here we go! Throwing out the thought, lets see if i get any bites. Thinking...Transmitter, micro...maybe motion detect...huh locator? you see where im going? Just thought i would toss it out there....I was Aircraft elect Air force, and trouble shoot repair guy (cal state lottery machines). Not sure if anything along those lines are out there but would luv any feed back....Huh easy now lmao remember im new here lol...Thanks all!!!!

joearkay (author)2011-11-19

wooo, you should sand that down first, i bet that paint scrapes off easy!

sikey (author)2010-01-22

wow, "uglify" to prevent theft. now you're riding a stupid looking bike! if you invest in a good lock you wouldn't have had to buy 3 bikes and paint them ugly, right?

Phoghat (author)sikey2010-04-18

Just buy a good lock. Preferably a motorcycle chain lock. Remember to lock it every time. No theft

ebutler3 (author)Phoghat2011-11-13

I suggest you just keep quiet. You're completely ignorant about the state of bike theft.

sberge (author)2011-09-02

I am currently working on a unique bike with my teenager, a wknd project, so far we have the handlebars done, the frame needs to be colored and taped and the forks have been colored and taped already, then were doing the sproket, our color schemes are (handlebars)- black/hot pink, (frame)-white/black, (sproket)- lime green/white, and (forks)-lime green/hot pink... which you see in picture used painters blue tape, to give it the zebra effect we just rip strips of the tape and place variously along the peices, finished project is gonna be amazing, by the way I love your colors of you bike as well.. looks awesome, hope you enjoy our sharing of our project ;)

firepup104 (author)2011-08-28


ParacordJedi (author)2011-07-04

Listen up, a $500 bike + bad paint job = $500 bike that would have repainted whether or not it looked crappy

TheGavinch (author)2010-11-27

I would recommend "prepping" the surface that's going to be painted by using sand paper or another rough surface to rough it up. It helps the paint dry even.

evajosie87 (author)2010-11-09

I think this bike looks cooler now than when you began!

Phoghat (author)2010-04-18

1. Buy a cheap bicycle tube
2. Slit down the middle and remove valve
3. wrap frame with tube
4. Profit

rocco (author)Phoghat2010-09-27

I don't get it - what problem does wrapping your frame with a tube solve?

Phoghat (author)rocco2010-09-27

If you have a nice new expensive bike, it disguises it to look like an old beater. A lot of bike messengers do this here in NY.

rocco (author)Phoghat2010-09-28

Gotcha - thanks!

GroundingStick (author)2009-08-16

I used to wrap my bike in reflective duct-tape. They can try to remove that, but then they have all that stickyness all over... eeew!

wd40 can remove stickiness man

it_dont_work (author)2010-06-03

that looks pretty awsome i'd probably steal that

pimpyourstuff (author)2010-03-21

 Nice paint job.  One man's ugly, another's loot.  Yep, I'd steal yo' bike!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a mechanical engineering going to Caltech. My interest is mainly robotics. You can check out my website at
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