What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Motorcycle? We Find Out What the Pros Use

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There comes a point when your motorcycle really needs to be painted or maybe even transformed. It’s not just about making it appear new and good-looking but also about preventing it against tenacious rust. When the outside coating on your bike begins to chip too, it needs to be repainted.

If you want to hone your skills and get a perfect color match for your machine while deriving the satisfaction of accomplishing this on your own, read on to get a sneak preview of what professionals use to paint their motorcycles.

After you read this, you should be able to ask intelligent questions as to what you want your final product to look like and make a list of products to buy for the project.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Motorcycle?

Best Can Spray Paint

Best Brush & Sprayer Paint

Best Metallic Airbrush Paint


Dupli-Color EBUN01007 Universal Gloss Paint

Speedokote-High-Gloss-Jet-Black-2K-Acrylic-Urethane (2)

Speedokote High Gloss Jet Black 2K Acrylic Urethane


Vallejo Metallic Set Model Air Paint

High-quality, fast-drying, and easy-to-use acrylic lacquer aerosol paint. Get smooth, even coats. While it’s a flexible coating, it’s likely to chip away over the years. This is a forgiving, fast-drying, easy-to-apply high-gloss jet-black paint. It comes with three-quarters of a gallon of paint and a quart of medium activator. However, it may be too thin for your liking. Apart from being ideal for customs, trims, and touch-ups, the Vallejo Air Paint is a good choice for beginners. The paint comes with eye-droppers, and this makes it easy to put it in the airbrush and to mix. Also, you’ll appreciate the option to add water if need be.

What Are the Factors to Consider When Painting a Motorcycle?

We’re all eager to strip away the old layer of paint exposing the bare metal, but before we get there, there are some important lessons to learn from the professionals; 

  • Remove Rust: This helps the new paint to adhere to the bare surface.
  • Apply Anti-Rust Treatments: To prevent rusting, apply steel treatment or use anti-rust
  • Choose a Paint Color: As per your personal taste, pick on a final look for your bike with a second opinion.
  • Thoroughly Clean and Degrease: A quick wipe down of the surface with soap solution or white spirit could make a world of a difference to the final spec achieved.
  • Pick Paint Quality by Brand: All paints for motorcycles are not created equal. Use a renowned brand and avoid generic paint – it’s unlikely to give adequate protection and gloss.

What About Paint Systems?

Even before you choose the paint for your DIY motorcycle paint job, you’ll need to understand some basic terminology around paint technology. A paint system could be either single or two-stage paint.

If your bike spends a lot of its time outdoors, then you should choose a two-stage paint. Else, a single-stage paint should help you restore the stock finish if you’ve got shaded parking for your machine.

For single-stage painting, you’ll achieve both the color and gloss in one coat of paint while two-stage painting requires that a layer of paint go underneath a protective layer of clear coat for gloss or matte finish. The respective industry terms are base coat and clear coat systems.

For coat systems, you can then proceed to choose between 1K and 2K coatings, where 1K coatings don’t require a hardener or activator to cure. Most aerosol paints are under this category of paints.

2K coatings are products that are mixed with hardener just prior to spraying to activate the chemical reactions that cause the coat to cure properly. Professional bodywork repairs make use of 2K coatings, which offer much higher resistance to wearing due to chemical agents and the weather.

Choosing the Best Paint for Your Motorcycle

For the optimum result, here are our recommended motorcycle paints you can use in coating and transforming your motorcycle. Depending on your budget and skill level, you can choose which type of paint is suitable for you.

Brush and Sprayer Paints 

Expert riders with experience can use fine bristle paintbrushes and sprayers to apply a fresh coat of paint with a spec indistinguishable from the original paint.

We would recommend these techniques and paint for restorative work as well as adding designs and unique patterns to the gas tank.

The main challenge with brush painting is keeping a steady hand and applying an even coat of paint in the same general direction.

Sprayers work well with 0il-based paints, but you can use acrylic and latex paints as well. You need to mix the paint with a good thinner to allow more paint to spray out of the gun, helping your project look better in the end.

Here are some of the best brush and spray gun paints we recommend for motorcycle painting projects.

 Paint  Pros Cons
Speedokote High Gloss Jet Black 2K Acrylic Urethane
  • Fantastic shine for a single stage-paint
  • Urethane is more reliable than cheaper enamel paint
  • Feels thinner than other paints
  • Requires more coats to get good results
Dupli-Color BSP200 Jet Black Paint Shop Finish System 
  • Quick-drying time
  • Easy-ready-to-apply formula
  • Lacquer based formula
  • Paint is only mildly transparent for candy paint
POR-15 Gloss White Top Coat Paint 
  • Excellent rust prevention
  • Rock-hard wear protection
  • Continues to flow after applying 0n vertical surfaces
Rust-Oleum 253499 Automotive Premixed Auto Body Paint
  • Hardens nicely with the addition of a catalyst
  • No drips with moderate speed
  • Gives a high gloss finish for heavy spraying
  • Instructions don’t indicate the fully cured time
House of Kolor – Brandywine Kandy – Shimrin2 Kandy Basecoat Automotive Paint 
  • The color is right on
  • Gives a consistent look
  • Causes fume degradation
Rutland Premium 1400 Degree F Hi-Temp Brush-On Paint
  • Paint produces a solid, flat black finish
  • Applicable for high heat specific use
  • Heat specific applications require high heat primer and heat curing

 Can Spray Paints 

If you don’t have the steady hand of a seasoned painter, don’t panic. Because motorcycles have rounded features, it’s quite easy to get an even painting from a spray can, a result that is very difficult to achieve with the flat panels of a motorcycle’s body.

Keeping a recommended distance between the nozzle and the piece as well as moving in measured sweeps will ensure an even coat. The paint color is already mixed, and you don’t need to sand after the application.

Here are aerosol paints that you can use for your motorcycle with great success:

Paint Pros Cons
Dupli-Color EBUN01007 Universal Gloss Black Perfect Match Automotive Paint
  • High quality
  • Easy to use
  • Fast drying
  • Ideal for touch-ups to match the original spec
  • You may need one more can than you think, just in case
  • Avoid aged cans. They come clogged
Rust-Oleum Automotive 260771 11-Ounce 2000 Degrees High Heat Spray
  • Paint applies easily and thoroughly
  • Comes with easy-to-use directions
  • Requires considerable curing time
  • May require a heating and cooling cycle to cure the paint
POR-15 Chassis Black Top Coat Spray Paint -15 fl. oz
  • Doesn’t require a topcoat
  • Has UV protection
  • Seeps into cracks and hardens
  • Reported cases of fish eye issues and improper coating
Dupli-Color EDE1615 Ceramic Aluminum Engine Paint
  • Reliable heat-resistant paint for the engine
  • After the first coat, you have 2 hours window to apply the second coat or wait 5 days for a complete cure
Krylon KA8620007 Automotive Undercoating
  • Versatile for metal surfaces of all grit
  • Flexible paint with rust resistance capabilities
  • Bad smell
  • The cured surface may still stain from dirty

Airbrush Paints

For higher spec and quality of paint job, you will need professional tools, including an airbrush cleaner (we recommend Iwata-Medea Airbrush Cleaner), a  suitable compressor, diluted airbrush paint, and an airbrush gun such as the Master Airbrush.

The main advantage of airbrush painting is that you get an even industrial-grade coating with a layer that is as thin as possible. It’ll not require paint thinner to get a better paint consistency.

What’s more, airbrush paint can work on all surfaces of your motorcycle given you use the right kind of paint for every material and prepare adequately. We’ve got a selection of our top products for airbrush painting on your bike’s gas tank, fairings, and chassis. Here goes;

 Paint  Pros Cons
Vallejo Metallic Set Model Air Paint
  • Can mix with water for thinning
  • Easy to mix set with eyedropper shaped bottle caps
  • Some color options may clog spraying equipment
Golden High Flow Acrylic, Assorted 10 Color Set 
  • Paint can be used with various tools
  • Lightfastness is indicated on the bottle
  • Small paint quantities mean the set can be used on small scale projects
Createx Airbrush Colors 
  • Non-toxic paints allow one peace of mind and health
  • Generally, these paints require thinner
E’TAC Private Stock Series 
  • Precision made paint for repeatable infinite color spectrum production
  • Larger orders require back order subject to availability
Iwata-Medea Com-Art
  • Paint already premixed and ready for use
  • Dries up fast and cleanup is fairly easy
●        The instructions are general, not application-specific

●        The black paint appears too thin

Auto AIR Colors from Createx 
  • Includes a bleed inhibitor
  • Doesn’t clog when thinned
  • Durable
  • Will bleed easily
  • Requires top coating with clear to obtain high gloss
House of Kolor Airbrush
  • Medium reducer premixed
  • A larger quantity of paint per bottle
  • Comes with a fast dry reducer and inter-coat clear
  • Irritating smell
Wicked Colors from Createx 
  • Compatible with many clears, paints, and primers
  • Comes with a high-value reducer
  • Paint color options are limited
  • May require the additional purchase of Createx Colors 4030

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is the Best Spray Paint for a Motorcycle Frame?

Engine acrylic aerosol paint is the best paint to use on a motorbike frame. Over time, it has proven to function well and to be quite durable. When applied correctly, this sort of spray paint makes the painting project simple and provides a professional appearance.

How Do I Paint a Motorcycle Gas Tank?

Dupli-Color aerosol spray paint is the best paint to use on a motorbike gas tank. It has been shown to provide the greatest results, doesn’t leave spray lines, is simple to operate, and costs far less than an HVLP paint sprayer and supporting equipment. Because motorbike tanks are so spherical, the spray pattern from the can blend flawlessly.

How Do I Paint Motorcycle Fairings?

When aerosol paint is applied correctly to a motorbike fairing, it provides a highly desired aesthetic feeling without breaking the bank. Painting plastic fairings is a comparatively simple undertaking when compared to any other motorcycle painting job.

Final Thoughts

If you know what sort of paint you’re going to use, revamping, or modifying your motorcycle is simple. The above are some of the best motorcycle paints that we recommend for looks, durability, ease of application, rust prevention, and low maintenance.  Select the sort of paint that is best for you based on your budget and ability level.

For other concerns, we are also open to discussion and encourage you to comment or ask questions.

Best Spray Can For Motorcycle Painting Mastery

About the author:  Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.


Picture of About the Author:

About the Author:

Michael Parrotte began his illustrious career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the U.S. market. He then went on to become the Vice President of AGV Helmets America for 25 years, during which time he also consulted for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.

In 1985, he founded AGV Sports Group, Inc. with AGV Helmets in Valenza, Italy. And for over 38 years now, the company has quietly delivered some of the best protective gear for motorcyclists in the world.

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