How can you vinyl wrap a frame?

Mar 9, 2018
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I recently got a new bike from a neighbour. Its a beast, but its pink. So im gonna vinyl wrap it.

Any ideas or tips to help me out?
 
Jun 13, 2015
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I've thought of this myself and these are my ideas which may or may not be helpful as I have only a little experience with vinyl:

Paint the base frame some color you like, either an accent to the vinyl or best match. This would be done so that if you don't get a perfect match between joints, you can hide it or make it a design feature. There are also parts that aren't practical to wrap, like drop outs or any exposed end of a tube. IMO, overlapping vinyl at the joints would look ugly (though a small overlap on the underside of tubes might be more durable and not well seen), so that's why I thought of this. Of course, you could overlap at joints and then carefully trim away the overlap to leave it perfectly flush, but I'm not experienced enough to know if/how much it will shrink back and where the overlapped vinyl had to step up from the tube, there probably would have been a little bit of stretching and the adhesion might not be optimal, so I considered it a potential peeling point.

Cut the vinyl for each tube with fish mouth ends as if they were the metal tubes themselves cut and flattened to be 2D. This will require some pretty good precision. If you don't have a computer program that could figure it out and print the patterns to size, it would probably be easiest trace each end with paper and transfer to the vinyl. With the program, you'd probably need to get the angles between tubes pretty close if you can't find the specs online.

Any braze ons would require some very careful planning and cutting around and, again, they could be pre-painted in a contrast/matching color and left or wrapped separately.

The rest would be skill in stretching and applying around various curves and keeping things aligned as you go. It would take some time and a lot of patience. If you go for it, I'd love to hear about how you ended up doing it.
 
Jun 25, 2017
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Wrapping a bike? Good luck with your plan.
Speaking as someone who has had some experience with vinyl wrap, the secret is to use a hot air gun - carefully - to stretch the vinyl so it conforms to compound curves. Believe me, there were plenty of those on the interior side window, windscreen surrounds and dash top on my '41 Buick Sedanette which I wrapped using 3M's quality 'Bubbinga' wood grained vinyl (see pics). It took time and plenty patience to complete this job (my first and only serious wrapping effort) but I got there in the end and was delighted with the finished result. Car since sold.... story of my life.
Bear in mind that most wrapping jobs involve unseen areas where it's convenient to end or hide the wrap's edges. Think about it - where on a bike frame are you gonna hide the visible edges? Short of having a visible seam joint on the underside of the frame's tubes, there isn't any other way round it. Oh, and sorry Duchess, but I have to respectfully disagree with your idea of cutting each panel to exact size before applying. 'Fraid that'll never work. This stuff sticks like s--t to a blanket - and you'll try a hundred times to get any pre-cut-to-shape vinyl panel laid down in exactly the right location before beginning to spread it out while removing trapped air bubbles as you go about it. I suggest you do what I did and watch umpteen YouTube vids showing the experts wrapping various vehicles - and take note how each panel is covered with wrap before trimming away any excess vinyl.
The adhesive used on 3M's vinyl is super sticky and so the wrap may be stuck down, lifted, then re-stuck several times without fear of loss of adhesion. Just be sure to follow the application instructions and use a plastic 'squeegee' to help remove any air bubbles as you go. Did I mention using a HOT AIR GUN? I'll say it again - you'll definitely need a HOT AIR GUN to soften the vinyl and make it more pliable. With a HOT AIR GUN, you'll be surprised how the vinyl can be persuaded to conform and adhere to quite complex mouldings. Just watch the vid of someone wrapping a wing mirror to see what's possible.
Good luck...! (Me? I'd paint a bike frame every time...) :)

FSCN3313.JPG FSCN3319.JPG FSCN3289.JPG FSCN3300.JPG
 
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Jun 13, 2015
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No offense taken—they were merely my thoughts on how it might work, but as I said, I'm no expert, but I didn't think anyone here had wrapped a bike and didn't want him to be left hanging.

I don't know if it's just the photos. but that vinyl looks incredible! With the cost of exotic wood—even veneers that aren't paper thin (and if you're like me, the likely added cost of screwing up)—that's definitely something I'll need to check out. Facel Vegas used to have metal painted like wood (an option, I think) that was pretty convincing, but didn't look like something I could replicate without a lot of practice, so I thought I was stuck with the price of actual wood for my next big project.
 
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Jun 25, 2017
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I don't know if it's just the photos. but that vinyl looks incredible! With the cost of exotic wood—even veneers that aren't paper thin (and if you're like me, the likely added cost of screwing up)—that's definitely something I'll need to check out. Facel Vegas used to have metal painted like wood (an option, I think) that was pretty convincing, but didn't look like something I could replicate without a lot of practice, so I thought I was stuck with the price of actual wood for my next big project.[/QUOTE]

There's vinyl wrap, then there's vinyl wrap. That 3M wood-grain wrap I used was superb stuff. Not cheap - but you get what you pay for.
My '41 Buick's faux grained interior panels were originally factory painted that way. (So were a great many other '40s US vehicles). Comprising a technique that is actually more akin to printing, it uses a rubber roller to pick-up the graining 'ink' from an engraved plate. The roller is then used to transfer the grain pattern onto the panel being painted. The rollers, various engraved plates and graining 'inks' are still available from sellers located in the US (Grain It Technologies) and that's the route I originally wanted to take. Unfortunately for me, being located in the UK, that idea was a non-starter when the company selling these graining kits told me they couldn't ship the graining 'ink' fluids overseas due to shipping restrictions. Bummer.
My Plan B was the vinyl wrap route. Pleased I did in the end - 'cause the results were fabulous. And no, the photos don't lie. Nor do they really convey how spectacular the results were in the flesh. Transformed my Buick's interior into a place it was a pleasure to spend time.
If you have a similar car interior project in mind, I recommend you check-out the very informative Grain It Technologies videos online which show the process being carried out hands-on. Then decide for yourself whether this process or the vinyl wrap suits your requirements.
Hoping this isn't coming over as a thread hijack.
 
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Jul 25, 2016
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I think vinyl wrap would be considerably more difficult than a new paint job.

If the bike is not rusty or too knicked up, you can sand the paint on there, no need to strip it. The factory paint / powder coat is going to be stronger than any rattle can primer.
 
Jun 25, 2017
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Sheesh.... wondering if the original poster in this thread ever found any of the replies he got helpful - or even bothered to read any of 'em? Where'd he go...?
 
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Feb 20, 2018
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Well, this is an old thread... And what I know applies usually to tint car windows... But I hear they use soap water first, then they put the tint film and the soap water prevents it from sticking, so you can slide it around until you get it right where you want it. After the water dries or evaporates the adhesive does its work and boom - perfectly laid tint film.
 
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It would probably be easier to use Plastidip or similar spray than a wrap if you don't want to lose the original paint.

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