GETTING STARTED: Make sure that you have the right gear!
- A hair dryer or heat gun is helpful when installing graphics in cold weather or at night, as a nice, soft graphic or number plate background is more pliable and easier to install.
- Contact cleaner, isopropyl alcohol and a clean rag are necessary to clean the plastic, especially if there is adhesive residue left behind by previous stickers.
- An old bank card can help scrape off big, thick globs of adhesive after it’s softened by contact cleaner.
- A razor knife can also be handy for trimming excess material or puncturing a nagging, trapped air bubble.
- Use scissors to cut out each panel from the sheet of graphics.
- Always use heat as a last resort as it promotes bubbles!
TIPS: Always begin with a clean bike. Trying to install graphics on a dirty bike is an easy recipe for disaster. Be sure to clean even the edges of the plastics and any other areas that will be covered. If it’s sunny outside, setting your graphics out in the sun to soften up can make the job a lot easier. If you are installing radiator shroud graphics, it’s a good idea to remove the seat before you start, as most decals are designed to wrap beneath the front of the seat. Most of all, though, make sure that you set aside ample time to get the job done right. Rushing through a graphic installation almost never yields favourable results, and no one wants to waste their hard-earned money on ruined graphics. Improperly installed graphics are not covered by our replacement warranty!
STEP 1: Removing the stock graphics and warning labels is the first step. Warning labels will usually break when you try to peel them off. Gently heating the label from beneath the fenders can make it easier to get them off in one piece. If installing on new plastics, skip to step 3!
STEP 2: Once you have removed the old stickers and warning labels, clean all of the plastic off with contact cleaner (be sure to follow the safety and handling precautions on the can or bottle)and a soft scraper and/or rag. I like to spray the contact cleaner on the rag, rather than straight onto the plastic as it will not splash onto your face and skin. Be sure to remove all of the old adhesive, dirt, elevated plastic from deep scratches and dust from the plastic’s surface.
STEP 3: After you clean the plastic surfaces with contact cleaner, it is a good idea to then clean the contact cleaner off the plastic with warm soapy water or isopropyl alcohol. Contact cleaner does not completely evaporate, and it can have a detrimental effect on your new graphic’s adhesive.
STEP 4: When installing graphics or number plate backgrounds, it’s always easiest to start with the farthest-forward corner. Fold back a small corner of the paper backing to start with; never peel the whole backing off before you get the graphic situated first. Lightly apply the corner that has the backing folded back, and line up the rest of the graphic with your eyes. Holes for mounting bolts are easiest to line up. Once you get the graphic lined up correctly, press down on the sticky corner and make sure it adheres nicely to the plastic. Once this is done, peel the paper backing the rest of the way off.
STEP 5: If your shroud graphic has arms, lightly stick them up and out of the way while you work on the main centre section. In the main section, work your way back in two- to three-inch increments, making sure to carefully smooth the graphic to the plastic without trapping air bubbles. If you do catch some air beneath the graphic, carefully peel it back and redo that particular section. As you apply the graphic, you should periodically eyeball the upcoming portion, making sure that you are still on track to line the entire graphic up correctly. Once the centre portion of this graphic was installed, I then applied the top and bottom sections, using the same technique. When applying a front number plate background, start from the upper left corner and work down toward the lower right corner. For a left side panel start at the front corner and apply the centre of the graphic to the raised crease down the middle to the back of the panel before working down, then up. The right side panel on most bikes and especially four-strokes is troublesome because it is curved to accommodate the muffler. You may require heat near the end of this portion to get some wrinkles out.
STEP 6: When a graphic becomes increasingly harder to apply smoothly and takes on a lasagne noodle appearance, applying heat and softening up the graphic will help it better conform to the surface of the plastic. Be extra patient when working with sections like these.
STEP 7: After you have applied the graphic and/or background, take a step back and get a close look at the surface of the graphic. Sometimes, looking at the surface at an angle can help you to spot trapped air bubbles easier. Depending on where the air bubble is trapped, you can either peel the sticker back and reapply it with greater care, or puncture the bubble with a corner of a pin or thumbtack.
STEP 8: Once you have the graphic and/or background installed, give the entire sticker a thorough rubdown to make sure the entire adhesive is firmly applied. Go over the edges of the graphic with a hair dryer or heat gun to help commit the edges onto the plastic. Take care not to get too close with the heat source, especially if it is a heat gun. Applying heat and pressure to difficult indentations in the plastic can also help keep it from standing up later on.
STEP 9: When applying a number plate background to a curved side panel (namely the Exhaust Can side), it is often helpful to straighten the plastic with one hand while smoothing the sticker down. In this instance, gently bend the curved-in side panel toward you (but not far enough to kink it!), which makes it easier to apply the background, since the surface is flatter.
THE DREADED RIGHT SIDE: Thanks to the curvaceous shape of your bike’s right side panel and fat exhaust can, it makes things extra difficult when it comes time to properly installing a number plate background. Believe it or not, though, there is an easy way! Follow these step-by-step instructions, and your right side can look as clean and smooth as the front and left side panels.
Start at the front of the side panel and work your way straight to the back. Align the front mounting hole and the rear point of the decal. Smoothly apply the middle of the background; on a clock, imagine running from 3 to 9 o’clock.
Once the centre strip is applied, divide the graphic like a clock and work from the exact centre of the background down to 6 o’clock. Work the quarter of the background from 6 to 3 o’clock first.
Now, tackle the section from 6 to 9 o’clock.
The top half of the panel is definitely the hardest. Work from 12 to 9 o’clock. This step may benefit from some heat from the hair dryer or heat gun, but be careful not to heat the background so much that it stretches and loses its original shape.
Finally, work the quarter from 12 to 3 o’clock. Because the background is naturally flat and is forced to adhere to a curved surface, it is a good idea to heat the entire surface after it is applied to help the adhesive really take hold.
This is the way we ourselves install motocross graphics.
Take off the seat & put the side plate bolts back in loosely… Graphics are easier to install with the plastic still on the bike.
With a clean rag & some lacquer thinner, clean the plastic really good… Carb or brake cleaner works well too & so does diluted acetone.
Get a new clean rag & lacquer thinner & clean the plastic again… New plastic needs to be cleaned even more than old plastic.
Note: the oils and silicone release agents on new plastic will guarantee the decals just fall off if not cleaned properly and won’t be covered by our warranty.
Install these ones first… front plate, front fender, swing arms, fork guards then the rear fender.
Next, do the shrouds (if the shroud is two decals, install the larger part first)
Install the left plate & then the right plate (its the hardest one… all the others were practice for this moment)
Finally, install the air box decals, be careful to line up the graphic to the larger side plate portion already installed.
Stretching the decal in some areas is necessary… so don’t do the water trick people talk about, it will just take forever to dry and could compromise the glue.
If it’s crooked or you get bubbles, just quickly pull back that area & continue the application.
When it’s all installed and looking good, get a heat gun or hair dryer then heat it up while rubbing everything down.
Don’t heat it up too much… put your hand near where you’re heating… if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for the graphics.
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