Motorcycle Plastic and Bodywork Repairs

A damaged panel can cost a fortune to replace. Therefore we decided to tell how to repair plastic panels as good as new with just a few tools and cable ties.

Small scrape, an embarrassing drop or an errant boot can all damage your motorcycle’s paintwork. Motorcycles can be much trickier than cars to repair – they have a variety of different materials, have intricate curves, often use transfers over paint, and even the paint codes to get the right color match can be tricky to find sometimes. And if your motorcycle is an older model, replacement parts can be elusive.

After checking a replacement part isn’t an economical solution, your next choice is to repair the damage. It’s easier than it sounds – so let’s have a look at how you can repair plastic for as little money as possible using heat, filler, cable ties and a little help from some friendly professionals.

Assess the Damage and Sort your workspace. Our panel had taken the brunt of an impact around the clutch area, with scrapes through the paint to the plastic, and two holes. We built a makeshift bench to hold the panel, with packing foam to prevent scratches. This gives us a nice height to work from.

Prepare the big holes and rub the damage down. Melted plastic had built up around the outside of one hole. Use a knife or scraper to remove this and see how large the hole is. Our panel is a flat black, so you can use a coarse 320-grit wet-and-dry paper. Metallic paint finishes need 400-grit paper or finer.

Fill the holes. Cable ties are made from a similar plastic to panels. Use a plumber’s torch to melt the end of one, then dab it in the damaged area. Flip the panel over and repeat. You’re trying to fill the gap with a good thickness of plastic. Don’t get the flame near the panel.

It doesn’t look pretty, but the holes are all filled in. Once rubbed down and filled you’ll have a strong repair that just needs painting. Use a block for flat surfaces, or a filler spatula to rub down around the contours of the panel. Use 320-grit paper and finish with 400-grit paper. Prepare the filler. Apply less hardener to the filler than suggested. It will still harden if mixed well, but this gives you more time to get it right.

Apply the filler generously. Don’t skimp on the filler – don’t fill just the immediate area of the damage, but the whole area. Follow the panel’s contours. Carry on rubbing. Use 400-grit paper around the spatula to rub the filler down. Try to rub in one direction as much as possible for a better finish. We normally use regular painters tape for masking around the decals, so we can spray more than just the repair. But for most motorcycles available in Thailand new decals are just a few hundred baht per set.

Apply primer. The area around the repair is masked off. The primer needs three or four coats from a spray can to give a good base layer. With the primer rubbed down, remove the masking tape and rub down where the primer finishes. Now remask a wider area. Spray the top coat in the desired color. A light coat, followed by several thicker coats and then lacquer, will give a lovely finish.

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