Replacing your dirt bike graphics can be a great way to clean up your bike and get it looking brand new again. It also gives you the opportunity to choose a new look that may better suit your style. Replacing graphics isn’t overly difficult however there are some common mistakes you should avoid.
Finding Dirt Bike Graphics
When you start searching for dirt bike graphics you will quickly realize just how many different types of graphics and suppliers are out there. You will also notice the large price differences between suppliers. Some of the largest factors for these price differences are:
Graphic Quality and Material Thickness
Most graphic suppliers now a days generally seem to have good print quality and adhesives. One area where some cut corners however is in material thickness. Material thickness is important because of how contoured dirt bike plastics are. If you try to bend very thin decals to follow the curved contours of the plastics, you will likely end up with a bunch of ugly wrinkles or warping in the decal. You may be able to use a heat gun to help with these curves but in some cases the material is just not fit for the application. I have experienced this first hand after testing out a ridiculously inexpensive graphics kit ($40CAD) found on a Chinese supplier website. After spending hours trying to carefully install them, no amount of pressure or heat would allow the vinyl to bend around the curves without crinkling or distorting. Eventually I had given up and switched over to a better quality graphics set which went on smoothly and in half the time.
The thickness of graphics isn’t generally something to worry about if you are purchasing from a large popular supplier however, if you are thinking about trying a company online that is smaller and lesser known it may be something to inquire about. A common thickness for good quality decals is around 0.5mm(20mil).
Another big driver of price is the level of customization a company is willing to do. Some changes that companies can do include putting your name/number on it, custom logos, different patterns and changing background colours. Typically the more you customize the more the graphics cost. To list a few companies popular graphics companies with customizable graphics options there is Rival Ink Design Co, Backyard Design and Col1 Graphics. Col1 graphics is an especially interesting supplier because of how high quality their graphics are for the cost. They are an overseas company which works through an ebay store. They will customize the graphics with your name and number for free if you send them a message with what you would like after your purchase.
One additional thing to consider when looking at graphic suppliers websites is what the display bikes look like. It is fairly common to see bikes displayed with different colour frames, different colour plastics, custom seat covers and more. These different options combined with graphics can look totally different compared to what they will look like on your specific bike.
Installing Dirt Bike Graphics
Installing dirt bike graphics can seem difficult at first, but if you take your time and pay attention to detail you will have them on in no time. Here is the process to install them:
- Clean the plastics to ensure that there is no debris or adhesive from the previous decals still on them. Contact cleaner is typically recommended for cleaning the plastics but non-chlorinated brake cleaner is also a popular option.
- Directly before applying the decals clean the plastics with rubbing alcohol
- Grab the first decal you would like to apply. Start by tearing off a small section of the backing paper to help you align the decal.
- Once the decal is aligned properly, lift an edge of the decal and pull off the backing paper. If it is a large decal you can pull off small sections of the backing paper at a time to make them easier to work with.
- As you lay the decal down, use a squeegee or some other form of straight edge to help ensure that any air bubbles are pushed out.
- If you have any troubles getting the decal to lay down properly on curves or edges, try heating the decal slightly with a heat gun. You want to apply just enough heat to allow the plastic to bend, but not so much that you melt it.
- Repeat the process until all graphics have been applied