When looking up on how to repaint a carbon bike frame, one encounters many different price ranges which only end up in causing confusion. Further confusion is added by the difference in the rough and heavy paint, such as that used for automobiles, and the fine and precise paint needed for a competitive bicycle. In reality, repainting a carbon frame is a time-consuming and delicate job and the cost of labour is often directly proportional to the quality of the work carried out. Let’s see why in a few simple steps and with the help of some images and videos.
REPAINTING IN ORDER TO CHANGE COLOUR/GRAPHICS
There is a very wide price range in this sector. The reason being is very simple: some manual labourers simply do not bring the carbon back to zero. As a matter of fact, in order to do this literally means sanding down all the old paint by hand with full knowledge of the facts: the manual labourer must have some experience in order not to ruin the carbon itself. For this same reason, the use of machinery is highly discouraged. Clearly, those who skip this step save up to 4-6 hours of work per frame. The following video shows a moment of this process.
The difference in cost compared to those who simply paint over the old colour is clearly substantial, together with a great deal of difference in quality: overlaying paint is likely to peel off easily, without even necessarily having been subject to a collision.
Speaking of carbon, we cannot fail to take into consideration its weight: on frames that weigh about 800 grams, the paint amounts to about 140 – 180 grams, therefore constituting 17 – 22% of the total weight. Quite a lot. If we have overlapping paints, this percentage rises dramatically.
The control of carbon fibers is necessary both for the strength of the frame and the quality of the finished painting. Any holes or excessively porous parts will absorb the paint differently, and therefore will create, in the best case scenario, differences in shades, but, in the worst case scenario, the detachment of part of the paint after perhaps only a few weeks of use.
HOMOGENEITY OF THE PAINT
As mentioned above, we are not dealing with car paint where weight does not matter and where paint can be applied abundantly to create more robustness: here we are dealing with very thin layers of paint measurable in tenths of a millimetre, which must, therefore, be spread in the most homogenous way possible. A “heavy” painting is also easily visible where the tubes connect; here the abundance of material makes certain intersections more rounded and therefore less elegant.
Once the fiber has been checked, a “filler” is applied to fill in any discontinuities in the carbon; this has nothing to do with structural strength. Only at this point can one start to paint, and once it has gone through the oven a few times – depending on the number of colours needed – a transparent coating is applied, which can be opaque or glossy.
This is the longest and most laborious procedure for repainting a carbon frame, but also the most effective. Speaking of a high quality frame, such as that of carbon, it would be useless and counterproductive to carry out any other type of process just to save money and thus degrade the frame precisely in its most visible point: the paint.