Introduction: How to Debadge (remove Decals) From a Motorcycle.

Picture of How to Debadge (remove Decals) From a Motorcycle.

I love the color of my motorcycle (Kawasaki Ninja 500r) but hate the maroon tribal-looking decals on the fairings. So I decided to remove them and here's how I did it.

*NOTE - this method works only on decals that are not "clear-coated" over. If your decals have been clear-coated over, do not use this method, it will not turn out pretty.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools.

Picture of Gather Your Tools.

You will need:

TOOLS for disassembling the fairings. Take a look at how the fairings are attached to the frame. My Ninja's fairings are screwed and bolted, so all I needed were wrenches and a screwdriver.

1 bottle of Goo Gone
1 Hairdryer
1 Exacto-type razor (I used a spare that came with a box cutter)

And an old rag/towel or paper towels for clean up.

Step 2: Disassemble.

Picture of Disassemble.

Get out your tools!

I only needed a couple of different sized wrenches and a Philipshead screwdriver to remove the rear fairings. *You may need more or different tools so make sure to check before you start!*

Unscrew and unbolt until the fairings can be removed. Take note of what screws, etc., go where so when you begin reassembling it won't be a guessing game.

Step 3: Gather Up Parts.

Picture of Gather Up Parts.

I chose to do my debadging inside b/c the weather here is rather chilly. So I gathered up my parts (fairings) and headed inside.

Get out your Goo Gone, razor, and hairdryer.

I set my fairing on a towel so as not to dirty up the counter too much.

Step 4: Removing Decals (debadging).

Picture of Removing Decals (debadging).

The method I've found most efficient, as well as the easiest, is to use a hairdryer like a heat gun. If you heat the decal at the point where you are pulling it away from the fairing, and gently pull the decal at the same time, the entire decal should pull off without tearing to bits.

*NOTE - Do not use an actual heat gun! It will fudge your paint and/or melt your fairing!*

If this does not work, use the Goo Gone to saturate the decal, then heat it at an edge. Use a razor to raise that edge up enough for you to pull it with your fingers. You will have to repeat this process several times, as the decal will tear into bits, so pray the other method works first.

Step 5: Remove Residue.

Picture of Remove Residue.

If the hairdryer method doesn't work, then you will probably have a lot of residue left from the decal's glue. This is where the GooGone comes in super handy. Saturate the sticky areas and leave them be for a couple of minutes. Then gently scrub the areas down with a rag or towel.

If the hairdryer method does work, then the fairing should be free of any residue, so pat yourself on the back b/c you saved yourself another 30 minutes of work. :)

Step 6: Before and After.

Picture of Before and After.

A look at what the fairing will look like before and after.

Step 7: Reassemble.

Picture of Reassemble.

Since you've kept all your parts together and organized, reassembly should be a breeze! Once you get it all back together, take a good long look at your new motorcycle... ahhhhhh :) And you did it all yourself!


mscearce (author)2014-08-22

Instead of a razor blade try an old popsicle stick. Heat the edge of the decal and push at it with the stick. You don't risk damaging the paint like you do with a razor blade.

D Prod (author)2014-02-18

This is extremely helpful thank you

Hasersys (author)2010-01-19

Heh, this would have came in handy a long time ago. I since do not have a ex500 anymore lol. When I did, I removed some decals to replace a farring, but they ripped lol.  My pic here is actualy a old photo of it doing a burn out belive it or not. Nice bike, they are very tough.

Next you should do a instructable on cutting down the license plate assembly. and shaving down the turn signals.

OH, also have you seen the r6 rear end swap! This one isn't the best I have seen but as you can see it gives the bike very nice lines.

thickneckarts (author)Hasersys2010-02-05

Right now, I wanna turn it into a ratbike, so I'm gonna lose the fender all together. Not sure what I'll do with the signals...

cyberrat (author)thickneckarts2011-07-18

this is the method i used except i never found anything to successfully remove the residue tried all kinds of solvents but next one i do (and there is a next one) i will try to find some googone or some citrus based cleaner.

I ratified my ex500 there are some pics here:

Hasersys (author)thickneckarts2010-03-12

My ex500 ended up naked. Right now I am riding a bobbed xj650 rat bike. Next the xj650 gets military ammo boxes monted as saddle bags ;)


Rd250 chopped and ex500

Yea, I like taking crappy $100-$400 bikes and making them into some thing. I rode the ex500 everyday, these bikes are TANKS. The one I had really was a tough bike. It never let me down. I bought it abused made it rideable and abused it.

thickneckarts (author)Hasersys2010-03-23


shantinath1000 (author)2010-01-19

Very nice- I have my eye on a 500 for the spring!

I love it. I'm a first time rider but I knew I would outgrow the 250 soon after I got some experience/confidence under my belt. The only drawback was there aren't any aftermarket mods for the 500 :( But I'm thinking about turning it into a ratbike so that won't matter anymore :D

Well I hope you are wrong about outgrowing the 250 b/c I just put a deposit on one.  With that said it has some decals that will have to go and I will be referring back to this  'ible often!

I think the later model 250s have more power squeezed out of their engine than the earlier models. Plus, the 250 has a helluva a lot of mods available! I'm sure you'll love it! 

thickneckarts (author)2010-02-05

Thanks for taking a gander at my 'ible! :D

Arbitror (author)2010-01-19

Good ol' Goo Gone! I simply love that stuff! Good job on the 'ible by the way! ;)

thickneckarts (author)Arbitror2010-02-05

Thanks :D

tepei_takamiya (author)2010-02-02

im sorry but im not from the United States...
What is GOO GONE?

It is a citrus-based solvent that removes sticker residue and other gooey substances.

wupme (author)2010-01-19

You actually can use a heat gun, thats what professionals use to remove decals. You just gotta be carefull and dont closer then 1 feet.

Trainman 2001 (author)wupme2010-01-20

clothing steamed

thepelton (author)2010-01-19

Another good solvent for removing labels is WD40.  I'm not sure how it would work on decals, but it will remove price tag goo from a nonporous surface.

kaptaink_cg (author)2010-01-19

Nice Instructable. I own a Ninja as well (check out my Instructable on creating a camera mount) 

Have you tried using WD-40 isntead of Goo-Gone?  Works very well. I actually sprayed some one before I used the hair dryer and it was able to work into the edges of the decal a bit, making it much easier to lift!

About This Instructable




Bio: I dig making hemp jewelry and upcycling would-be tossed items. I also run a free website that maps businesses that offer "free tire air" to ... More »
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