Paint a Bike Frame




About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.

Bikes get scratched up and start looking pretty ragged. Fortunately it's not too tough to give them a new paint job. Just a few tools, some spray paint, and a bit of time. It's all worth it, too, since the results make the bike look far better.

Step 1: Start Stripping the Bike

So everything that's attached to the frame needs to come off. That's the seat, wheels, chain, derailleur, all that stuff. To get these off you will need:
  • chain tool
  • Allen wrench (4mm, 5mm & 6mm)
  • Socket wrench
  • Crescent wrench
And for painting you;ll need some spray paint and clear coat. I used:
  • Blue Krylon Dual
  • Krylon Clear Coat
With those tools, go to it. The fun thing about bikes is that everything you need to remove is pretty clear. Is there a hole for an allen wrench? Good, use an allen wrench! That takes care of the brakes, bar stem, and bottle holders. Use the socket wrench to remove the crank arms, the crescent wrench for the front fork, and the chain tool for the bike chain.

If you're new to this, be sure to pay attention to all the parts you pull off as you'll need to put them back on later. Also, make sure to carefully store all of the pieces away. It's easy to lose a couple tiny pieces along the way.

Step 2: Clean It Up

So now you have the bike frame. Clean it up with something good to get rid of all the grease and dirt. I used Pedro's Green Fizz, but there are many options you can use here.

Step 3: Sand It Little

Use some sandpaper to rough up the surface of the old paint. I used 150 grit here, but could've gone even finer. The point is to give the new paint a good surface to hold on to, not to remove all of the old paint.

When that's done, wipe the frame down with a damp cloth to pick up all the dust.

Step 4: Cover Up Anything You Don't Want to Paint

This bike was in rough shape and the crank arms were absolutely not budging. So, fine, I wasn't going to remove them after all. Which isn't too bad since it's easy enough to cover them up with plastic bags and use some masking tape to keep them tidy as well as cover up all of the crank arm.

In addition to the crank arms, I also covered up the brake posts with masking tape.

Step 5: Paint!

OK, we finally get to paint. Some people recommend hanging the entire frame by threading a wire through the head tube and hanging it up by that. I didn't have any good place to hang the bike at my place so I opted for doing it on a tarp in two phases.

The first phase was done like in the first photo here with the frame resting on the seat post opening and the rear dropouts. In the second phase, I balanced it on a crank arm and one of the chainstays. It's not elegant or super stable, but it works.

For each phase of painting, I applied three coats of blue Krylon Dual spray paint. Just be sure to wait for at least 5 minutes between coats. So with two phases, this resulted in 6 separate coats of paint being applied.

After that, I let the whole thing dry overnight before applying 3 coats of Krylon Clear Coat with the same process.

Step 6: Put Everything Back On

Now it's time to put all the parts back on. If you paid attention and carefully stored away all your pieces, this should be quick and easy. If not, it can be a little annoying.

But that's it, your bike has a new paint job and you're good to go.



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    9 Discussions

    Marshen Waha

    1 year ago

    If you had purchased a stand and Park Tool Crank puller you could've had that off in 5-10 minutes.


    2 years ago

    You say you left the paint to dry overnight, but how long is that specifically? Could I start this process at an early hour (7 am) and have it finished before the end of the day?


    2 years ago

    And for the Crank & Head/Handlebar/Fork bearing cups, I just use a Long Screwdriver & hammer to knock them out. If you do it right, you wont damage them & they can go right back in after the Paint has cured.


    2 years ago

    If you look up the Bicycle's brand, you can also find replacement stickers to put back on the Bike!


    3 years ago

    Hey, how did this hold up? I'm thinking of trying this method and adding several layers of sealant (live in Ireland, high rainfall/cold). Looks great!


    3 years ago

    Nice blue color. What's great about Instructables is that folks learn to 'just give it a go.' This is a good example of not letting obstacles stop you. Many would have stopped the project once the cranks resisted removal. To encourage others, I will say that with the proper tools, the cranks probably would have come off; just as the headset bearing cups could have been removed with a tool made for the purpose--instead of being painted over. (30-year bike mechanic here.) But your bike has a fresh look, and it must be satisfying to ride something you to which you gave some TLC.


    4 years ago on Step 6

    Funny, my bike is the exact same blue and I want to paint it flat black.

    Thanks for the instructions! :)


    6 years ago on Step 3

    This is great but if you chemically stip the paint off renolds 531 tubing is there a better way to make the primer stick?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Gorgeous job. I just wanted to add what I learned this summer - if you are spraying on the ground you have to get spray paint cans that allow you to paint at any angle, otherwise the object must be about shoulder height so you so you can paint horizontally.

    I spray painted some wall sconces this year and I learned that when the can says to spray light coats they mean not to spay a light coat and come back later, but to spray light coats until you have coverage - then come back SOON - in less than an hour, to put your second coat on. But you must wait about a week for the paint to really cure so it can't be scratched off. I actually read the directions which must be printed in about 4 pica.

    In my case the lights were black and I used a spay primer (white) before painting them very red. They look very professional, no one can tell that they didn't come that way.

    I used a light coating of dish soap to coat the insides so the paint would not stick there. That did not work at all. Not even a little bit. I had to use 400 and 600 grit wet sandpaper to remove the red paint from the inside of the lights.

    I think that with a primer you would have needed only 2 coats. But is just as much work of course. Your bike looks really cool.