motorcycle fairing



Morning all,

hoping to pick your brains.

I have a motorcycle that I'm rebuilding. This weekend the engine will go back in and it all should start taking shape over the next couple of weeks.

I've been looking into having the fairing resprayed as it's a bit dated - don't get me wrong the bike is fairly old itself so it's never going to win any beauty prizes but would like to update it a bit.

I was wondering if it's within the realms of a newbie painter to have a go myself? now I've never done anything like it before (gotta start somewhere though right?) and I only really want it black at this stage - can it be done? or should I just pay up and get a professional to do it?

the long term aim would be to have some red skulls on it, really light but really bright I want to have the lower edge of the side panels to have a kind of pile of skulls and a racing stripe through the centre of the tank and rear fairing to have the skulls too - but I've got a got year or two before being able to do this - not even graduated dots yet!!

so yes - should I do it myself in which case does anyone have a good step by step guide or - should I pay to have it done, being quoted around £300 before repairs for one colour respray

Cheers All
Hi Hudson and welcome.
First of all cal I ask you to fill out your profile so people know at least where you are in world in order to help you with advice?
I just looked at your fist post but most people just want to look at the profile and see where your from.
My initial thoughts are that you don't have the set up to do panel work.
You are going to need at least a detail gun and for the clear coat you will need additional equipment.
There is nothing wrong with having the panel work and clear coat done by a professional except you are paying out money.
As a new player you need to do a lot or research and you will find almost all the answers here on the forum. You just need to get your head down and read all you can.
My advise to any newbie would be to start small and build up your skill and experience levels and slowly add to your tool arsenal. I speak from personal experience here, I started to air brush thinking I could paint my bike but I didn't realise how much time it took to build learn the skills required.
Don't be put off but what I have said, ALL things are possible!!! but be prepared for a steep learning curve lol.
Why not start off just trying to paint your skulls and see how that goes?
What paint are you using?
Hi there, thanks for the advice exactly what I needed.

I'm more than happy to pay for someone to do it - the rebuild has taken long enough so I'm pretty keen to just get the bike done and that pressure on myself might only be a recipe for disaster anyway!

that's the thing too, I mean if getting myself all the equipment is more expensive than paying for someone skilled to get it done then it's not really worth it at this stage.

Paint would have been another question! think of me as a blank canvas, all I have is a Chinese compressor and brush off ebay (something to get me started really) I used to paint wargamming stuff and only really used the AB to do base coats but now I'm wanting more from it. Going to the local store at the weekend with the intention of picking up an Iwata neo - again just something basic to get skills down etc - although I could equally be swayed into spending more and getting something better.

the long term aim is to do bike stuff - mainly my own, I work full time and I think it's a pipe dream to work for myself but probably not very likely. Doing something fun and rewarding is my main aim at this stage.

I'm in no way discouraged by your post, I prefer to be told directly rather than spoon fed into thinking anything is possible (of course it is but it's all about finding that balance) I think i'll heed your advice, get the pro to do it for a couple of hundred quid and get my head down and concentrate on getting my own skills up at my own pace rather than with a project completion to worry about :)
I too came here with intentions of helmet and bike painting.... Not even thought about it for a while... Yes, I could probably do something now.. I have gained a lot of knowledge here... and confidence! I would say start painting, enjoy it and learn.. YOU will know when your ready to do your bike!

Dont rush at it... a rush job shows.
You have stepped onto a long road of discovery Hudson. Some new people get discouraged after a short while but I think they drop out because they need instant results instead of seeing the bigger picture and enjoying the journey.
Starting up can be a little expensive and my advice to anyone in general would be to buy the best equipment they can afford but at the entry level there is no need to buy the "Rolls Royce" Air Brushes but a good work horse to start with.
There has been loads written on which brush is best to start with and most of us have different ideas on this and I think it's all down to personal choice. If you're going to your local shop ask if the have any ABs all ready set up so you can have a go. If they don't have anything set up ask to hold the different makes and models and see which one feels the best fit for you.
If you're going down the Auto route I would recommend AA (Auto Air) paints which are Water Based and designed for auto work.
Hope this helps
cheers both good advice, yeah I think i'll pay to get the fairings done privately - I don't want to have that in the back of my mind - already spent a fortune getting the bike to this stage so don't want to ruin it now...or worry about ruining it!

To be honest my main aim is to do something enjoyable. I work all week and don't really come home feeling relaxed or anything remotely close, so I dump myself in front of the Telly and do nothing!! I used to draw and do creative things. I know that wargames is about as geeky as you can get but I do miss the creativity and the escape. That's the feeling I'm hoping for from AB. Don't expect immediate success, quite happy to do dots and line at the moment lol but think i'll get some skull stencils to give me a push in the right direction.

With regards to brush, I'm happy to pay what I need to to get the right equipment. When I got the Chinese gear I was in a different financial situation, now this is no longer the cased I'm fortunate enough to be able to spend what I need to - at the same time I do like a bargain lol so prefer to buy the right thing rather than the most expensive.
This is all ofc my personal oppinion :).

Wanting it black sounds easy but even with "only black" a lot can go wrong some of which will not be imidiately appearant. Airbrushing itself already has a very steep learning curve, custom paint add's some more with prep work, different materials you are working on which in turn will all influence the final outcome. Custom paint involves a lot of trail and error and I can pretty much guarantee you you will make mistakes and messups the first few times.

I myself wouldn't advice to start practicing this on a project that is actualy serious (being a bike you'll want to ride and which you already spend a lot of time on). Even if the painting it black part works out it still might to come back to bite you in a later phase when you want to start doing the skulls.

For me the road to travel would be to first get comfortable with the airbrush itself by practicing on paper metal sheets etc. When you are comfortale with that do some custom paint practice (get some old tanks/helmets) and learn all the pitfalls involved in that.

There are some step by steps for whatis involed in painting a bike but reading those will not make you a custom painter (it is ofc always good to read up :)). That will only come with some experience and making the mistakes we all made.

I'd have the bike painted black by a "professional" and start practicing my airbrush skills, that way you could possibly ad the skulls you want later on by yourself without having to worry about the surface you are working on.
Last edited:
that's the plan :)

and totally agree, the bike is ready to go back together so the last thing I want now is a delay which in turn would make me rush which I don't want it to look rushed at such a late stage.

I think i'll stick to the advice given - let a pro paint it for me and make it my aim to feel confident enough to add the skulls later down the road, no point taking on too much too soon and sapping the enjoyment out :)
Well it's all been said and having it done by a pro is certainly sensible, it will at least enhance the work you have put into it yourself, however, there is no harm in learning a bit about it just in case you would like to or even get asked to do it in the future, every little thing you learn is a tool in your box and if you ever get into custom painting the more you know, smoother it will go.
Not sure how far you are from me, but I have a collection of AA paints. If you wanna pop over any time and give them a try before you buy let me know. Also got a H&S evolution you can try... Give you a comparison to the cheap stuff. I know a guy that might be able to paint ya fairing at a reasonable price too. Cant show you how to use airbrush as i'm still a novice and not yet that good, but i can only get better.
If you feel you are ready to tackle the task of painting your fairing then I say go for it. Later as your skills grow you may find yourself repainting it to make it better.
We all have to start somewhere and your start may just be your fairing.
But do a test panel of what you want to do on the fairing that way you can work out your weak areas .
I find black shows up every tiny imperfection, and if you have spent a lot of time and money on building your pride and joy you will want something that is spot on, and you will also have the other steep learning curve of clear coating - which is another kettle of fish. So if you want it done sooner rather than later, then go the professional route. Then you can build up to better equipment and gain confidence, and then when you are ready have a perfectly prepared surface to airbrush a really cool design on at a later date.

I learnt to AB to paint my own bike, and found there was so much more I needed to learn, including prep and body work which I really hadn't given a lot of thought to (I'm a bit slow on the uptake lol). It took longer than I thought to get to grips with it all, but the day I painted my own tank and had done something I was proud of, was the best feeling!