Introduction: Reflective Bike

About: I like making things out of items that would have otherwise been discarded. Check out my other projects!

My brother Kevin Dean works at a place that makes and installs fencing and guardrails. A few weeks ago he noticed some unused but beat up stickers that are used on the ends of guardrails. I happen to have an abundance of bikes...

This has been done before and there even are a few entries already for the Light Up Your Ride Cordarounds contest that work on this idea so definitely check out Wrap Your Bike in Reflective Cloth by stupidplus and walkermount's Reflective Super Commuter.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Some of the things you'll need:

Various tools to remove bike components (optional)
Straight edge
Utility knife or similar bladed instrument
Flexible tape measure or piece of ribbon
Paper towels or rags
Reflective material

Obviously it would be difficult to rely on someone giving you guardrail end treatment stickers to do this project. I like the idea of using something from the trash that will make the bike much more visible day and night. Incidentally I also salvaged the bike from the garbage.

Step 2: Prep the Frame

Remove components like wheels, brakes, chain and anything else that might be in the way of your work. I had to make two trips to the bike shop to remove the crank set.

Clean the fame well so the stickers will stay on. I initially cleaned the frame with WD-40 then I used a window cleaner solution to remove any oil and make sure the stickers adhered well. I used a citrus based sticker residue remover to clean off the stickers from the forks and the chainstay protector.

Step 3: Measure Tube Diameter

Use the tape measure, ribbon or as you can see in the photo I used a piece of ribbon wire from a printer or scanner to determine how wide you need to cut your piece.

Step 4: Cut a Piece of Material

I used the back side of the sheets to lay out the size of the sheet needed. I then cut it out with scissors. Depending on how detailed you get there are many ways to approach this. I wanted the three main tubes of the bike to be solide black and yellow stickers to make it stand out well. I wasn't as concerned with the chainstays or other smaller frame components.

Step 5: Appy the Sticker

Carefully apply the sticker and put the seams in the least visible places (toward the ground or the wheels). You can see that i have more material than necessary (in length). I intended to shape the pieces to meet the contours of the welds. However the guardrail sheets are not very flexible and were quite brittle. Unlike a vinyl adhesive that allows quite a bit of flexibility and give these tended to break or almost shatter instead of cut well with a razor knife. Regardless I put them on and cut the holes for the water bottle cage bolts and the welded pieces that the brake and shifter cable housings rest in.

Step 6: Get Fancy

With scrap pieces of the backing (on top of the scissors) I was able to make templates for cutting out specialty pieces. This one ended up on the front fork.

Step 7: Add Stickers Until You're Happy

I used some grey stickers that I had around on the stem and handlebars (between the stem and the brake levers) and I put some on the bar ends. On the front forks I removed the factory stickers and since the paint was black I just cut the yellow scraps to continue the diagonal striping.

I live in Alaska so we're experiencing a bit more darkness than most parts of the world. I can't wait to get this bike out on the road.

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