Anti-Theft Bike Painting




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

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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 8: Enjoy

Time to drive around and show off your new bike.

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    71 Discussions


    3 years ago

    My cheetah bike. I miss it : (


    3 years ago

    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


    5 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    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.


    6 years ago on Step 7

    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..."


    6 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    9 years ago on Introduction

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

    3 replies

    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....


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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

    7 years ago on Introduction

    How about rust colored Rustoleum?

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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    5 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    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...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    Tim Templenoahh

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

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