Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Northern Nevada
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I've repainted half a dozen bikes i rebuilt for a local kids' club, so I can give a little advice.
First, whatever finish you apply at home will be less durable and scratch resistant than the factory paint. No way around it. It will look good initially, but bumps and bruises the factory paint would shrug off will leave marks.
A rattle can will do a decent job, with the caveat above. As with all paint jobs, preparation is 90 percent of the deal. You don't need to go down to bare metal (probably shouldn't, in fact, because the factory primer is better than you can do at home), but ALL grease, oil and wax has to be removed, and scuffing the paint with about 200 grit sandpaper will provide "tooth" for the new stuff.
Think about decals and stickers. Their outlines will show through the new paint unless they were clearcoated initially, and maybe even then.
It's best to strip the bike (of parts, not paint) to avoid overspray. Masking is another job that takes a lot of time (I've read that pros who paint custom bikes plan at least 10 minutes to mask each lug), but pays off with a clean, crisp-looking job. Buy good masking tape, preferably Frog Tape, not the junk at Home Depot. Then apply the paint in several light coats rather than one heavy one, sanding lightly between coats. It will look great until you ride it....