Let’s be real. From the moment you parked your bike in the garage, you’ve been tallying up a list of modifications you want to make. Motorcycles are a blank canvas, including adding functionality to the bike or tweaking its aesthetics. One way to transform a bike is to add some color that suits your style. A great place to start is with your wheels, and a popular process for doing this is powder coating your rims.
Powder coating is a dry finishing process that uses an electric charge to fuse a color powder to a metal surface. It’s then heated in a curing oven at high temperatures to finish the bonding process, leaving a uniform and smooth colored coating that is harder and more durable than paint.
Powder coating is extremely popular and has become increasingly common since it was first introduced in North America in the 1960s. Powder coating services have also become much easier to find over the past few decades. Regardless of where you live, you likely have access to a company specializing in custom powder coating requests. If not, there are a lot of companies that take mail orders to help you out.
Is Powder Coating and Ceramic Coating the same thing?
The short answer is no. While both processes provide similar benefits, ceramic coating is more similar to paint, which is applied wet and cured. Powder coating is an electrically charged process of bonding color pigment to the metal. Both are good options but provide slightly different looks and feels. Ceramic coatings are often recommended for larger surfaces like a motorcycle frame. However, both will provide a durable finish and stunning looks in the long run. However, ceramic coatings will be more prone to stone chips.
Powder Coating Motorcycle Rims
Motorcycle rims are one part of the bike that gets the most abuse. Rocks, gunk, brake dust, and other materials can put a beating on your rims. While cleaning can take care of most of this, painted wheels will often chip and scratch over time. For this reason, individuals looking to add color to their wheels have been turning to powder coating as a durable alternative to paint. Powder coating motorcycle wheels is simar to car wheels. It may be a little less expensive since they’re generally smaller, and you only need to coat two of them, unlike four car rims.
Powder Coating Colors
The great thing about powder coating is the wide array of color options. While it’s not quite as customizable as paint, you’ll have a lot of options to get close to the exact color you want. However, not every powder coating shop will have the color you want in stock. You may need to custom order a unique color or shop around to find a shop that has what you want. Unlike traditional paints, which you can mix to fine-tune your color needs, powder coating will have less range in colors. It’s also cheaper to coat the entire wheel in the same color. If you opt for multi-color, expect to pay more.
How long does Powder Coating Take?
Since the process is a little more extensive than painting, a typical job will likely take longer. Assuming the shop has availability, you should expect at least a week between dropping off your rims and picking up the finished product. The powder coating process will involve prep work, coating, and curing. However, this process won’t take considerably longer for powder coating rims than for a regular paint or ceramic coating job.
What about powder coating clear coats?
A clear coat is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a top layer finish that sits over the color coating on the metal. A clear coat is an extra layer, so it will add to the durability of the finish and provide an extra layer of protection. Additionally, a clear coat can provide different gloss finishes to give you the exact look you’re after. Since you’re investing in your rims with powder coating, many people choose to add a clear coat to protect the investment. Of course, adding this option will cost you extra, but it’s less expensive to add it upfront than deciding to do it later if you change your mind.
Can you coat Aluminum wheels?
Like anything you search for online, you’ll find various opinions on powder coating aluminum. Some people state that the process can damage aluminum and degrade the metal’s structure. Others say that it’s not an issue. The main concern is associated with the high heat of the curing process. While there is no clear answer to this, many powder coating companies who coat aluminum wheels will use lower heat ovens and a longer curing time to offset any concerns. Some shops even use a different powder to coat the aluminum alloy wheels. My suggestion is when shopping checking out local shops, ask these questions and inquire about their specific processes for aluminum wheels. If they don’t have a good answer, I suggest moving on to the next shop.
Can you DIY Powder Coat Motorcycle Wheels?
The short answer is yes, but the recommended one is no. While the DIY costs may seem attractive, chances are you’ll be less than impressed with the results. You need to have quality equipment, experience, and the right powder to get good results. While you will pay more for a professional to handle this, the finish will be much better than what you can accomplish. While a DIY powder coating job may seem attractive if you don’t have enough money, I suggest saving up until you do or trying another finishing option. With a little care and patience, a can of spray paint can provide better results than an attempt at powder coating them in your basement- plus, you won’t be breathing in volatile organic compounds in the process.
How much does it cost to Powder Coat Motorcycle Rims?
This question may be why you found this article, and I’ll do my best to give you a clear answer on the cost of powder coating wheels. You can expect to pay anywhere from $250-$500 for a set of motorcycle rims. This price will depend on the size of your wheels, the complexity of the job, and even your color choice. If you are looking for a two-stage color or adding a clear powder coat (clear top coat) over the base coat, expect to pay an additional $20-$50 per wheel. While clear powder coats come with extra charges, the added expense will help to protect your investment.
Most shops will have a fixed price per wheel, based on the size, and have additional charges for each service required. The more work that needs to go into the job, the more it will cost. At a base price, expect a cost of $100-$175 per wheel. This price is just for the single-color powder coating work.
If your wheel is in rough shape or previously painted, the shop may need to strip it down to bare metal via chemical strippers or media blasting first. You want to start with a good foundation for the best powder coating results. A quality shop can recommend the steps needed to do this. The total price will ultimately depend on how much work is needed to prep the wheel. However, remember that you would also need to do much of this same work for a paint job. If you’re on a tight budget, the best option is to try and clean up the rims as much as possible before you bring them into the shop.
If you’re seeking a specialty color, you may have to pay a premium, especially if it has to be specially ordered. So when pricing out your project, ask about any additional costs for custom colors or color matching.
The other consideration to keep in mind when pricing your project is the experience and reputation of the shop. While you may find a less expensive option near you, check out the reviews from other customers. I highly recommend going with someone who has been in the business for years and has a good reputation.
Some powder coating startups may be using less expensive equipment to complete the project, which can greatly impact the results’ quality. A reputable shop will have a high-quality spray gun and a specialized oven for curing. It’s a good idea to ask about the equipment- you don’t want your rims going into a residential over (yes- this is a thing).
The other expense, which is often in your hands, is disassembling the rims for the finishing job. Again, if you’re mailing your rims in to be powder coating, you’ll need to do this work yourself or take it to your shop to have it done. However, some local powder coating shops may offer this service, allowing you to drop off your bike, and they will do all of the prep work. But, again, expect to pay extra for this service.
The average cost of powder coating other motorcycle components:
When powder coating your motorcycle wheels, it’s also a great time to think about other components on your bike that you may want to alter. This step is especially true if you’re requesting a custom color. By having multiple bike components powder coated simultaneously, you can be certain that the colors match exactly.
Below is a list of some other bike components and an average cost for powder coating. This list can help you plan your budget and whether or not to add some extras to the job.
- Bolts, Washers, and Nuts $2
- Brackets $5-$15
- Brake Calipers: $30-$50
- Levers and Pedals $20-$30 (each)
- Chain Guard $25-$30
- Cylinder Head $75-$100
- Fenders: $80-$125
- Forks $30-$50
- Handle Bars $75-$125
- Tanks $125-$200
Cons of Powder Coating
While powder coating is a great option, it’s not your only choice for your wheels. In fact, there are some good reasons why you may not want to do it. First, as mentioned above, there is a debate on the safety of powder coating aluminum wheels. If you can’t find a reputable shop to do it, or you don’t feel comfortable, it may not be the best option.
While you can achieve a variety of finishes for your wheels through powder coating, if you’re after a specific look, another finish may work better. For example, a ceramic coating or even a regular paint job can give you a look you’re after, especially if you want a high gloss or candy finish. I suggest checking out some bikes that match the style you want and then inquire about the process used to achieve it.
Powder coating can also be expensive, especially if you need a lot of prep work or have other items to be coated. However, if you don’t plan to do the whole rim with a single color, it may be less expensive to have it professionally painted (or you can even do it yourself). You will also be able to get different colors with paint and even ceramic coatings that you can with a powder coating.
If you’re researching different applications for adding some color or protection to your wheels, you likely are considering powder coating. It provides a unique finish, extra protection to your bike, and a good quality job that will last a lifetime (with proper care). While it may cost more than taking a can of spray paint to them, it will give you a look you can be proud of. While you may see some people suggesting doing this at home, a quick google search will show you that it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. The most important thing is to locate a reputable local powder coating shop. They can answer all of your questions, provide a pretty solid estimate on costs, and you can look at some of their work before investing in this process. While it may seem expensive initially, the average cost is not much more than other professionally finished processes. If you try it, send us some photos of the website. We’d love to see them!