Vinyl Wraps for your Ride - One-Day Makeover

Here's Rod's American IronHorse that was wrapped about a year ago. Rod only wrapped the tank and fenders with hot-rod style flames and skulls.

Rod was tired of this design and wanted something a little different. So the bike was rolled into the shop and they began stripping the old wrap off the tank and fenders. Even after being on the bike for a year, the wrap peeled off the stock paint with ease. Under the wrap the paint was pristine and all it took was a little cleaner to wipe any left over residue off. They had all the wraps stripped off in about 30 minutes.

Rod explained to us that just like paint, whatever design you want they can create a print on the vinyl sheets, from simple shapes and colors to 3-D images. They can take anything from existing designs, pictures, or a myriad of files such as hi-res jpegs, EPS, PSD, etc, or even a sketch on a napkin and create a custom layout for you. The design is put into the computer and sized accordingly for the application then...

...printed on their super-sized printer. The graphics are printed on 2mm thick 3M vinyl. Rod told us that over the years the technology in vinyl for graphic wrapping had vastly improved. This 3M vinyl is very durable and holds its color and resist fading.

For the gas tank and the rear fender, the design was cut into 2 foot by 3 foot lengths. As you can see, Rod is a skull and flames guy. However, this time he went with a real fire layout, and his artist incorporated the company logo as well as our HOT BIKE logo into the design.

The vinyl is very malleable, so they can stretch it over the contours of the sheetmetal and it won't rip or tear. As they began sticking the vinyl to the fender, a hard squeegee is used to push air bubbles out, for a completely smooth and solid seal.

In about six hours, Rod and his crew had stripped the old wrap off his bike and covered the bike in an all new real fire and skull design. Rod even shrunk down the skulls and created a layout for the frame to give the entire bike a more finished look. All the seams and edges of the vinyl have been either tucked under the sheetmetal or blended for a clean look.

The finished bike

In the continuous quest to find new, interesting, and different ways to modify our rides so they don't look like every other black bike, we recently came up with the idea to do an article on wrapping a bike. If you're not familiar with vehicle wraps, basically it's a graphic that is printed on vinyl sheets with an adhesive backing. The backing is then peeled off and the graphic is applied to the vehicle like a giant sticker. Wraps have been gaining popularity over the years as a quick, easy, and less expensive alternative to custom paint.

For the most part, companies have utilized vinyl-wrapping cars, trucks, trailers, motor homes or whatever, for promotional purposes to show off products or services. Hell, here in southern California we see vans rolling around just about everyday covered in vinyl graphics promoting some music artists' latest CD, or a radio station's newest giveaway gig. But now we are seeing more and more personal cars and trucks that are going in for the custom wrap treatment because as we said before it is less expensive than paint, can be applied over your existing paint in about a day, can easily be fixed or replaced if it's damaged, can act as somewhat of a protective barrier to your original paint, and will leave little to no residue on your original paint when removed.

Recently a shop called Gatorwraps, opened up in our area that does vehicle wrapping so we stopped in to ask a few questions about the process. We were immediately introduced to the owner/ president, Rod Voegele, who as it turns out, is a motorcycle enthusiast himself, and owns an American IronHorse Texas Chopper. In fact, Rod had already wrapped the bike about once before and was ready to peel the old layout off and re-wrap the bike with a new design. We made arrangements to come back the following week when Rod was ready to show us the process.