Powder Coating vs. Painting Motorcycle Wheels
One reason why people like motorcycles is that they are a lot easier to customize than other vehicles. That is because they have fewer parts overall. You don’t have to take the panels and things off to get to parts. Everything is pretty much right there in front of you. One of the most common customizations you can do to a motorcycle is changing the color of the wheels. If you are thinking about doing this though, then you might end up getting the question of should you powder coat the wheels or paint them. Well, in this article we are briefly going to explain what each one is, and then we are going to explain the pros and cons of each one. That way after reading this article you should know which is better for you between painting vs. powder coating your bike’s wheels.
Before getting into the pros and cons of powder coating we are first going to briefly explain what it is just in case you don’t know. When you powder coat a wheel you are changing the color by getting colored particles to stick to the wheel. The way this is done is that the wheels are clean completely. This is to get all grease and dirt off of them. After the thorough cleaning, the wheels are dipped into a chemical solution to neutralize the surface. This is to make sure anything that will prevent the coating from sticking is off.
After the cleaning process is done the wheels are hung. When hung the wheels are also electrically grounded. Then, a special blend of polymer resin that is the color you want is put into a sprayer. The sprayer charges the particles as they are sprayed onto the wheel. Since the wheels are grounded, the particles are attracted to it which leads to them sticking. Once the rims are covered, they are then placed in an oven at a minimum of 320° F to cure the powder.
So, now that you understand what powder coating is and how it works we can get to the pros of powder coating. The first main advantage of powder coating your wheels is that powder coating is more durable compared to paint. This is because of the kind of material that is used for the process. Resin is like a plastic almost after being baked and this is stronger than paint. Wheels on all vehicles, especially motorcycle are susceptible to dings and scratches from rocks on the road and a powder coating can withstand most of that.
On top of the typical road hazards that could damage the color on the wheels, powder coating can also handle tire mounting machines very well. These machines can sometimes scratch the wheels, and powder coating can handle this better. That means that when the tire gets put onto the wheel you won’t have to worry about the machine damaging the new fresh look.
Since powder coating is more durable than paint it should not be a surprise that it last longer as well. Durability and time that it will last go hand and hand. The paint will fade and come off with time and washing. Powder coating, on the other hand, doesn’t have this problem because it is baked onto the wheel. Lastly, the powder coating is sure to cover the whole wheel. It is very hard to miss a spot because the particles are electrically charged and the wheel is not leading to all areas being covered.
Now though we can move onto the cons of powder coating. The first is that it can be harder to do than regular painting. While you can buy kits for powder coating, these kits can be hard to use at home. This is why it is highly recommended to have a shop powder coat your wheels for you. Since a shop is doing it this means that powder coating your wheels is going to be more costly than painting them a majority of the time.
The next con is that the color selection is a lot less. Places may advertise that they have a lot of color options, but there is still no way they have as many as paint options. Since the color comes from pelts being blended there are a limit to how many colors that can be made. If you want an exotic color, then painting may be the only option to get that color. Paint has hundreds of thousands of options where powder coat doesn’t have near as many.
Another negative for powder coating is the amount of time it takes. While painting can take a day or two powder coating normally takes at least a week. That is because they are more steps and the process is harder. Also, the baking process of powder coating can physically change the structure of your wheels if they are aluminum and most motorcycle wheels are aluminum. This structural change is important because the structure breaks down. This limits how fast you can safely go on the wheels. If you are going too fast, the changed structure of the aluminum wheels can be dangerous and can break at some point because of how fast they’re spinning.
So, now that we know the pros and cons of powder coating we can move on to painting wheels. Painting wheels is a much simpler process. You take the wheels off and other parts connected to the wheels and then you paint them. Most of the time spray paint out of a spray gun is the best, but if you don’t have a spray gun you can use a can. Do one side of the wheels. Let it dry, and then do the other side. Painting wheels can be a do it yourself project. It is fast and simple to do. Most people can get it done in a day or two. If you don’t have a spray gun and want a perfect professional look you can have a shop do it and they can still get it done faster than powder coating. This means that it is cheaper as well as we have mentioned.
Those that are advanced can even paint the wheels without disassembling them. Outside of being easy the last pro to painting the wheels is that it can look just as good or better than powder coating. If you prep the wheel right and paint it correctly, then you will have people admiring the wheel and thinking it was powder coated when it wasn’t. The painting also doesn’t change the structure of the wheel.
The downside to painting wheels though is that it isn’t as durable as powder coating. You can add as many coats of paint as you want, but eventually, they will start to chip. This is a downside you just have to deal with. The scratches will happen to painted wheels and you will just have to touch them up. Also, you need to prep the wheel well and be careful not to overspray the paint because overspray paint can be hard to get off.
So, which is best between powder coating vs. paint. Well, the answer comes down to preference mostly. If you want the most durable, then you can’t beat powder coating. However, you have to remember that you can’t go as fast on powder coated wheels because of the change in aluminum. Also, powder coating is costly and takes longer. If you want cheaper and faster, then painting is the best. Both powder coating and painting can lead to great-looking wheels. The key is to just do it right. Find the color you want and have it done right the first time, so you don’t have to pay to redo it all