We've published enough paint protector articles to last a
lifetime and a half, so this one will be brief.
I guess you think we're obsessed with paint protection, but
hey -- motorcycles are expensive, the paint gets dinged and scratched by
nature and who knows what else (including zippers, buttons and leg-overs)
and, well, it just seems like the right thing to do.
Chris covered, if you'll pardon the pun, the Tankslapper
paint protection kit for his FJR1300 a while back, and I've had a GT1000 kit
banging around for some time, so I decided to take a whack at it.
We've been using 3M and other types of clear vinyl paint
protection film for some time; I think it was back in 2000 or so when we got
hold of some 8 mil 3M Scotchcal and laid it on a volunteer's BMW R1150RT.
That stuff worked (and still does), but it was thick and fussy and it took
lots of elbow grease, water spritzing and swearing to get it right.
Ducati GT1000 Paint Protection Kit
White and red arrows indicate the barely visible edges of the clear vinyl
The yellow arrow indicates the barely visible edge of the clear paint
Those are our grubby fingerprints and leftover spray, but you can see the
edge of the clear vinyl.
Video: Installing a Motorcycle Paint Protection Kit
But you don't have to roll your own -- Tankslapper makes
precision-cut kits for many bikes, which takes a good chunk of the anxiety
out of the job (remember the time I cut the pieces backwards and had to
throw away about 40 bucks' worth?), and the stuff is nice and pliable,
making it easy for just about anyone to get it right.
They do sell the 3M clear vinyl paint protection if you
still want it. The 3M vinyl has a type of glue on it to help it stick,
but the regular ol' Tankslapper brand seems to work just fine. In
fact, I didn't realize that the Tankslapper brand didn't have glue on it
until I went to buy another kit for the Multistrada last week and discovered
there were options at checkout time.
By the way, they also sell clear, pre-cut headlight
protection vinyl, and I bought one of those for the Multistrada and will
report on it when it arrives (we covered this also
in this article).
The same cautions that we have described in all the other
articles apply to the Tankslapper product. I first use pure rubbing
alcohol on a soft rag to wipe off the surface and clean the old wax off the
surface. Get it nice and clean and dry; any dust or dirt underneath
may show through.
Then use an old spray bottle and mix up some water, a couple
of drops of dishwashing liquid and, oh, I don't know -- a tablespoon or so
of rubbing alcohol and you're all set.
Spray everything until it's nice and wet -- including both
sides of the vinyl. Slide it on and start squeegeeing (is that a
word?) out the air bubbles and liquid, working from the center out. I
use my wet fingertips and press lightly, working most of the bubbles out
before I use the "professional" squeegee (that is a word!) that you can buy
from Tankslapper or at your local auto parts store. Or you can use an
old credit card or piece of stiff cardboard.
Don't overdo it, and we think the key is to press lightly
rather than trying to wring the life out of it. Don't worry about a
few tiny bubbles here and there; most of them will disappear by the next
After everything looks good, let it sit overnight and it
should bond very nicely. It can be peeled off if necessary, like when
you go to sell the bike and the paint looks brand-new because it is.
In 2000 we didn't have video technology like we do today, so
Burn and I created a short video to show you how it works. The GT1000
looks great -- it really was starting to get scratched up from my legs and
gut rubbing all over the tank during spirited riding -- so it was none too
soon for some paint protection. It's cheap, it's easy, now you have a
video to show you how...what more do you want? Get out there and do it
before it's too late!
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "D.M.": "I had the Tankslapper kit professionally
applied to a BMW R1200S and must report that it was a waste of money.
Being thinner it likely should be easier to apply than the 3M product but
the installer had a very difficult time. The next time the bike was in
for service, I was told that their complementary hand wash had torn the
product and it had shifted from the water hose elsewhere. I ended up
giving up on the product and ripped what remained off the bike. It was
upsetting as my brand new black BMW would show a scratch just looking at it
so I wanted to protect my investment.
I must tell you that the people at Tankslapper were great to
deal with and I only wished the product had worked. I don't know if I
am an isolated case (I hope so) but that was my experience."
From "D.W.": "Once it is properly installed, does it
accept the same polish as the unprotected parts of the tank and shine as
brightly as the paint?"
Editor's Reply: Good question, and I
guess I took it for granted on this. The film does stay relatively
shiny, and it seems to accept polish (which accumulates as white powder
around the edges so I run my finger around the outline to clean it) and
although it looks pretty close to the original finish, it's definitely not
as smooth or shiny as paint.
The film is soft, so it will become scratched, but that's
the idea, it's a sort of sacrificial element that gives up its life to
protect the paint. If it gets bad enough - and I've never had that
happen after using it on several bikes - it can be peeled off and a new one
The film will accept most motorcycle polishes, but in our
experience, polishing the surface of the film doesn't really do anything, so
I usually don't bother.