How to Strip Yer Bicycle for a Raw Finish.

Introduction: How to Strip Yer Bicycle for a Raw Finish.

About: I like workin on bikes. Ill share my technique with you but it is NOT the right way, just my way. I used to get paid to do this stuff, but thats boring. Sharing is caring.

The first thing yer going to need to do is have a bike that you want to try this project with.  Make sure a raw finish is what your after, because it's a lot easier to remove paint than it is to apply it!

I started with a Columbus Steel Cinelli Gazzetta track frame.  It had a pink over white paint job with decals on the outer most layer of paint.

I got all my supplies at Lowes for under $20.

I did not cleacoat the frame, but plan to have in powdercoated with a clear finish.  In Albuquerque we don't get alot of moisture.  If you can see the Potato Patch you probably ought to treat your frame right away with some kind of sealant.  Steel is real, real rusty if you don't seal it right.

Step 1: Materials

I bought all of this, and didnt need most of it.

This was the important stuff
Paint Stripper
Mineral Spirits
Paint Brushes
3M stripping pads, 2x coars, 2x fine
Chemical resistant gloves.

Not pictured were q-tips.  Very usefull around the headset and brake arch.

Paint stripper will burn yer skin.  Unless you really like Fight Club, wear the gloves.

Step 2: Prepare the Paint Stipper.

Shake the can.  Then, with gloves on, pop the top and pour it into a cup or metal can.  One you don't drink out of, or care about very much.  When you open these cans they let off a little pressure, and if your do this step barehanded you will burn your flesh.  Also, doing this in the kitchen sink isn't such a good idea.  Try doing it outside instead.

Step 3: Paint Stripper

This is what paint stripper looks like, in a glass cup.  Note the glove of safety, +3 on saving throws.

Step 4: The Bike.

Yep, thats the bike.  With paint on it.

Step 5:

I had a spot on the frame where I was already loosing paint.  The driveside dropout was as good out of the way practice spot. 
Once you apply the stipper, your paint is coming of.  It works very quickly.  Test a small section first.

Step 6: First Removal of Paint.

The moment I brushed it on, it began to bubble.  After one minute it looked like this.

Step 7: Paint Slough

It's nasty.  It's dangerous.  It's paint sloughing off as I apply the stripper.  Do not eat.

Step 8: Remove Yer Parts

Take off all your parts, because trying to protect a San Marco saddle from dripping, deadly paint stripper is lame.

Step 9: Don't Use a Fan. Just Go Outside.

The fan didn't help.  At this point I was still doing a test strip on the chainstay.

Step 10: Two X Two Minutes of Death

This took two coats, two minutes each.  This stuff works fast, and it smells terrible.  At this point I was still working inside, wich is not a good idea.  Paint stripper is dangerous, use it carefully outside!

I wiped it off with a paper towel.  It didn't need the stripping pads.  The paint comes of slimy and wet.  Do not touch it barehanded, it will burn the shit out of you.

Step 11: Take It Off.

Since the chainstay looked so good, I decided to do the frame and fork.  

Make sure you want a raw finish.  Once you start you can't go back.  Unless you get it repainted.  So...

I put a really thick coat all over the frame.  This sucked.  I couldn't get a good hold on it because I had coated the whole thing. It worked, but if I were to do this again I would do one tube at a time!

Step 12: It Just Slides Right Off.

One coat of paint stripper x 2 minutes and the paint just falls off.  The first layer that is.  

You dont just wipe it off and get a raw finish.  Oh no...

Note helpful Manservant Kervin's shoes and left hand.

Step 13: Easy

The logos fell off by themselves. 

Step 14: First Use of the Striping Pads.

This was my first use of the 3M pads, and they work great.  Unfortunately they soak up paint and stripping agent alike, so buy more than two.  

You can see that tantalizing Columbus Steel peeking through.

Step 15: Forked

This is the fork after a scrub down and spray with the hose.  Most of the paint is gone.  

The basecoat was much harder to remove than the top coat.

Step 16: The Very Next Morning!

Someone got a text message that Johnny Knoxville was at a bar nearby, so we went to go see him.  I finished this project the next morning.

As you can see a lot of paint came off with the first two coats of stripper.  I used the coarser pad for most of the removal.

Step 17: Taking My Own Advice, or Trusting Instinct.

I decided that stripping one tube at a time was a better, more effective method.  I was right.  

The top tube and downtube have received three full coats at this point.

Step 18: Forked Again.

The fork is almost done!  All of the brushing on and scrubbing of paint stripper is done at this point.

Finer tools will be used soon.

Step 19: Headtubes Suck!

The paint around the headtube is hard to remove.  Sorry, break out your beast hands.

Also, remove your bottom bracket and headset cups if you can.  I couldn't, and I survived.


Mineral spirits are flammable.  Butt the Harry Wragg and get back to work.

Step 21: Use Cardboard.

I was working on the walkway, but when I came out in the morning it was a big pink mess. 

Cleanup is as easy as a hose, but save the whales and use some trees.  

Step 22: The Shows Over, Unless You Want VIP.

All the paint I could remove with a brush at this point was removed.  Time for mineral spirits.

Mineral spirits and a scrub pad are next.  I splashed some on paper towels and gave it a rub down.

Removing as much stripping agent and loose paint as possible was easy.

Step 23: Wipe, Scrub and Look Good Nakedd.

I used the 3M pads and mineral spirits to wipe down the frame and remove stubborn flakes.

I then reassembled and went for an awesome ride.

Paint is weight.  Removing grams makes you faster!

1 Person Made This Project!


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3 years ago

Great step-by-step! Thanks for taking the time to do this for all us hacks


7 years ago on Introduction

hey man! just wanted to know how is the frame now. does it work or is it rusty or what do you have to say about it. Im planning on doing this do my kilo tt But I don't really know if its a good Idea. because I have read that its always going to end up all rusty but some other people say its not going to get rusty. I don't know what to do please help! by the way super nice instructable.


10 years ago on Introduction

im going to use this on my beach cruiser i found. the original paint is lousy looking anyways.