In honor of launching MCREY's four new custom dirt bike graphics kits, here are some tips to help you successfully apply graphics to your bike and remove the old ones (if you're not buying new plastics).
First, make sure that you're ordering the right style/size graphics for your bike! It's important that you specify whether your plastics are stock or if there are any after-market upgrades. If you're buying new plastics too, make sure you're ordering the right plastics for your bike (ex: CRF 250R plastics are different than CRF 250X plastics!).
In addition to your new graphics kit (and maybe some new plastics), you will also need:
- A mini squeegee to help smooth out any bubbles (trust us).
- A heat gun to help stretch your graphics around corners and rounded edges (a blowdryer will also work, but may just take a little longer).
- Clean plastics! If you're reusing your old plastics, best practices for cleaning them are at the bottom of this blog.
Now let's get to transforming your bike!
It doesn't really matter where you start, but know that the right side panel is the hardest to put on as the plastic has so many curves. I started with my swing arms, then did the number plate, fork covers, front and rear fenders, radiator shrouds, left side panel, airbox cover (the door that opens on the left side to change your air filter), then right side panel.
If you're unsure about what each piece of plastic is called on a dirt bike, we created an easy guide to help you:
Pro tip from Chief: if you're nervous about getting pieces like the number plate and front fender straight, first find the middle on your plastics with measuring tape and mark it with tape. You can also measure the middle of the graphic and notate that with a tiny piece of painter's tape (so it doesn't stick and ruin your graphics). Line up both pieces of tape to help guide you!
Once you've got your graphic lined up, only remove part of the backing and start to apply the graphic. The reason I say "part of the backing" is because if you can avoid removing the entire backing and sticking the whole graphic on at once, it will be easier to control the sticker and get a cleaner finish. As you are slowly pressing your graphic to the plastics, use your mini squeegee to smooth out all the air bubbles, working from the middle to the outside of the sticker. You don't want to push all the air bubbles into the middle!
If you do find any air bubbles, you can try to lift up the graphics (if the bubble is close enough to the edge), push the air bubble out and then re-stick the graphics. If you are unable to do that, then gently poke the bubble with a pin, heat it up slightly, and push all the air out towards the pinhole with your squeegee.
This material isn't known to be the most flexible, making it more difficult to apply in certain areas. This is where the heat gun will help you *slightly* stretch the graphic over any curves. This is especially helpful with pieces such as the fenders, side panels, and shrouds. I also like to use the heat gun on the entire graphic after I'm done applying it, using the squeegee to smooth everything out and make sure it's really stuck on there. As the sticker gets warm, the adhesive becomes stickier, which helps it form a stronger bond to your plastics after it cools.
WARNING: a standard heat gun gets really hot really fast. You don't want the sticker to overheat and stretch to the point that it's bigger than the plastics. You want just enough heat to be able to manipulate the sticker around curves. Use heat sparingly. It's better to start out with too little than too much.
Applying dirt bike graphics can be extremely frustrating. Don't worry, you're not alone! Just remember that you don't want to get them too hot, you don't want to pull on them too much (especially while they're hot), and don't push the air bubbles towards the middle. If you f*$% it up or think it looks bad, just fall a couple times and scrape your graphics up! No one will even notice.
If you're removing old graphics and reusing the same plastics:
You want to make sure those plastics are cleaaaannnn! Start by peeling off your old graphics. Try (I know it's hard) to peel as much off as possible... this means less scrubbing for you later! I found that Windex (thank you to my friend Colleen who suggested this!) actually worked better than Goo Gone at removing sticky residue. I'd let the Windex soak on the residue as long as possible, then take the soft side of a sponge or an old kitchen rag and start scrubbing in a circular motion. The longer you can let the Windex sit, the better. (And yes, the Windex does run off onto the ground a little so make sure you're doing this in an appropriate area). Once all the goo is removed, get the plastics wet with water and then dry them off. You want to make sure nothing is left on those plastics to prevent your new MCREY graphics from sticking!
If you have any other questions about applying or removing your new graphics, drop a comment and let us know!