Amazing Renovation

From Purple Rain to Silver Rocket

Purple purple as a motorcycle can be.

1: Take note of this photo because when we get to the end of this article, you won't recognize these parts.

2: In the interest of making the bike look good, we decided to install these Paul Yaffe Original lights in the saddlebags to get rid of the stock lighting.

3: The process began by finding the center of the bag and marking the light shape for cutting.

4: Once the hole is marked, you drill a starting point and then make the cuts with a jigsaw. The tape all over the bag keeps the pieces from flying off as you cut. A portable belt sander was used to smooth out the cuts.

5: Installing the light module is simple. The backing connects to the red plastic cover, and then the backing is screwed into the oval trim ring -- very secure, very clean, and very nice.

6: This gives you an idea how clean the setup will be. The PYO lights will work as brake and taillights as well as turn signals.

7: Finally, Mike is ready to start the paint prep. He has a very set pattern that he follows with pre-painted parts. Using 220-grade sandpaper, he hand-scuffs all the paint to ensure that any logos, pinstriping, or other graphics are completely removed. If this procedure is not done thoroughly enough, the prior graphic will come back as a ghosted image.

8: Take a good look at how detailed Mike's prep work is. This is just to get to the stage where he sprays primer.

9: Step one is to spray a catalyzed primer surface. Maldonado lets the primer dry overnight, he then wet-sands it with 280-grit sandpaper. The parts are then primed again and rubbed with wet 600-grit paper to get a perfect finish.

10: The next step involves using prep cleaner and some sticky tack cloth to remove all the dirt, lint, and particles that may have landed on the surface during final cleanup.

11: Mike used a Glasurit paint package on our bike. First, he stirs the paint in the can...

12:...then it is mixed with hardeners and reducers to make it set up properly. The mixture is filtered into his spray gun reservoir.

13: Now, Mike shoots three layers of base color. After the base dries overnight, Mike applies a layer of clear to seal the paint. Then, everything is rubbed out with wet 8-grit sandpaper to get it ready for the graphics.

14: Remember in the beginning of the article when we said a bagger has three times the amount of paintwork? Now you can see why Mike rolled his eyes at us. All of these parts need to go through each of the procedures we outline in this article.

15: After cleaning and tacking the paint again, Mike used 1/8-inch 3M Fine Line tape to create the basic flame design we were after. Now he can put masking tape in all the places we don't want the flames to show on. This practice is sometimes called block painting.

16: Using a very sharp new razor, Mike trims the excess tape and peels it off the tank. He has to be careful not to peel the 3M tape.

17: One last safety check. Mike sits the tank (and any other parts being flamed) on simulated mounting points to ensure the flames flow with the pattern of the bike.

18: After the arduous task of applying three coats of burgundy followed by a coating of prep clear, Mike can start peeling the tape about 15-20 minutes after he takes the body work out of the booth.

19: Once the tape is peeled, Mike uses Scuff-It compound, water, and a sponge to ensure all the rough edges are gone. Then all the painted pieces get prep cleaned, tacked, and set up in the booth for three medium wet coats of clear. Next, it is wet-sanded with 8 -grit and cleaned up again. Mike then goes back in the spray booth and puts three more layers of clear to ensure the edges of the flames are completely invisible and can't be felt. Finally, he color-sands and buffs everything with 3M polishing materials to make it look like this.

20: Remember those Paul Yaffe taillights?

21: Is that a look for a bagger...

22:...or what? Purple Rain has definitely transitioned into a Silver Rocket.

When we started riding our '99 Road Glide in late 1998, we instantly fell in love with it sort of. The only problem with the bike was its color. Due to the all-purple paint scheme, it received the nickname, Purple Rain (from the Prince movie). And whoever rode it that day took all the abuse the rest of the staff could muster. On the list of projects we had planned for the bike was a custom paintjob, but it somehow always got put on the back burner.

Then it happened: A Big Boar wide-tire kit showed up at the office. To install the kit, the new fender needed to be painted, so we seized the opportunity to tear the rest of the bike apart and upgrade the look. While the guys at V-Twin City in Pomona, California, did the mechanical stuff, we rushed the sheetmetal over to Heavy Cycle Customs in Capistrano Beach, California.

Mike Maldonado, owner of HCC, looked at our bagger parts and shook his head. Since Maldo specializes in custom bikes and choppers, we brought him an amount of bodywork that equals about three custom bikes. He explained the procedure he uses to paint a bike and sent us out the door, promising to call when the work was done.