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How to paint motorcycle fairings properly

Whether for customization or repairs, this is how to paint your motorcycle’s fairings the right way.

How to paint motorcycle fairings properly

If you ride anything other than a naked bike, your motorcycle probably has a significant amount of fairings. Faired motorcycles, including sportbikes like the Ducati Panigale V4 and ssport-tourers like the CFMOTO 650 GT, feature sculpted shells primarily used to reduce air drag. Fairings may also protect the rider from airborne hazards and the bike’s components in case of an accident. 

There are many variations of fairing design, differing from manufacturer to manufacturer. A faired motorcycle may have a front fairing, rear fairing, belly fairing, or a single fairing covering part or all of the bike.

Fairings are significant components for the bikes that do have them, and when damaged, there will likely be negative effects on aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. That said, minor damages, like tiny scuffs or paint chips, are fairly easy to repair and repaint. You can also use the following method if you simply want to mix things up by painting over your bike's current fairing. So, here's how to paint motorcycle fairings properly.

What you'll need

Paint gun

Depending on your approach and specific requirements, you may need several or all of the items listed below.

  • Paint gun - Paint guns are relatively cheap and easily accessible nowadays. Of course, you can also use automotive spray paint, but we think a paint gun offers more control while giving a better overall result.
  • Masking tape - Tape is necessary to cover the parts of your bike you don't want to paint. It's all too easy to get paint splatter on sensitive components, so use some tape to protect your motorcycle.
  • Cloth or newspaper - Painting can be messy, so you need to cover the floor area of your workstation to avoid unnecessary cleaning.
  • Sealer or primer - You'll need a sealer or primer to ensure a uniform finish for your painted fairings.
  • Lacquer paint - This type of paint produces a solid finish that can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including bike fairings. They're designed to be durable, chip-resistant, and waterproof.
  • Sandpaper - You may need 80 to 120-grit sandpaper if there's any damage to the fairing. You will also need 400-grit sandpaper to rough up the primer later on. For uneven coats, 1000 grit sandpaper or higher is recommended for finishing. 
  • Rubbing compound and microfiber cloth - When all is said and done, you will want to apply some rubbing compound with a microfiber cloth to ensure the best-looking finish for your fairings.
  • Fiberglass repair kit - This may be more of an advanced tool, but if your fairings have some minor damage, a fiberglass repair kit might come in handy.

Painting the motorcycle fairings

Now that you have the necessary equipment and materials, you're ready to begin repairing and repainting your motorcycle's fairings.

  • Prepare your workstation - Get to a place with lots of light and ventilation. You'll want to have the best visibility while avoiding the inhalation of toxic paint fumes. Then, put your bike on its center stand and clean the fairings from top to bottom. Cover the space below your motorcycle with cloth or newspaper before proceeding to the next step.
  • Sand the fairings - Once you're done with the prep work, proceed with sanding out the topcoat of the fairings. 80-grit sandpaper will work best here, and you'll need to sand in uniform strokes going in one direction. Sand the fairings just enough to prepare them for a new coat of paint.
  • Repair any damage - As previously mentioned, if your fairings have sustained minor damage, you can use a fiberglass repair kit to bring them back to life. The kit should come with appropriate instructions, follow them, and afterward sand the affected area again with 80-grit sandpaper. Make sure you tape over parts you don’t want to paint before proceeding with painting.
  • Apply the sealer or primer - Once the fairings are repaired and smoothed out, you can proceed to the sealer or primer with the paint gun. A thick coat will make the surfaces even smoother and ready for the lacquer paint. After applying the primer, allow enough time to dry before using the 400-grit sandpaper to rough the fairings up. That will let the paint stick to the fairings better and ultimately give you a more good-looking finish.
  • Apply the lacquer paint - You've reached the final step of this guide. Take your spray gun, empty it of the primer, and fill it with your choice of lacquer paint. Then, apply up to two coats of the paint to give you that smooth and solid finish. Make sure to apply the paint evenly for the best results. Allow for some time to dry before using the motorcycle again. 
  • Sanding and buffing - No matter how steady your hands are, encountering paint imperfections is almost inevitable. For this, you will need to get your fine sandpaper again and sand off any remaining bumps and blemishes. Then, you can use the rubbing compound and microfiber cloth to reveal the best out of your new paint job. You're probably raring to take your freshly painted motorcycle out for a spin, but it's best to let the paint rest and set for a while before starting it up—wait for about a day to a week for the paint to cure. Start with the lowest grit of sandpaper, then move on to higher grits once the coat evens out. Then finish it off with rubbing compound for a shiny finish, then seal it with wax once you’re satisfied with the shine. 

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