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How to retouch chipped paintwork

13 Apr 2020

Bike looking beaten up? Follow our tips to return it to its showroom splendour.

No matter how much care you take of your bike, you’ll inevitably put a chip in its shiny paintwork at some point. Although this is unlikely to cause damage to the frame, it will make your bike less beautiful. Fret ye not, though, because with a pot of paint and a bit of know-how, you can vanish away those unsightly scars.

How to retouch chipped paintwork

1. Damage control

Small chips won’t ruin aluminium or steel frames. They’re unlikely to compromise carbon either, but before starting, check the surrounding carbon doesn’t feel squishy by giving it a squeeze. Look for cracks spreading from the centre. 

Untreated chips in your paintwork are unlikely to cause serious damage. Even on steel frames, surface rust spots won’t compromise the structural integrity of the tubing. Still, it’s nice to keep your bike looking pretty.

2. Find your colour

Cheap options for finding the right colour include nail polish or model maker’s paints. For a closer match, get a RAL colour chart and order the matching colour from a specialist shop such as – these needn’t be expensive. 

3. Treat with alcohol 

Clean around the area to be painted with isopropyl alcohol. This will help the touch-up paint to adhere by removing any traces of grease, wax or oil on the surface of the frame without damaging the underlying material. 

4. Paint it

Regardless of the paint you’re using, a decent brush will make application far easier. Start with one thin layer and leave it to dry. You’ll probably need another couple of coats to build up the paint until it’s slightly proud of the surrounding area.

5. Sand it

For the best finish, sand the new paint using the some very fine-grade sandpaper (at least 1500 grit), ideally stuck to the back of a lollypop stick. Wet the paper first and work slowly to get a good finish without disturbing the surrounding paint. 

6. Polish it

An application of wax will add some sparkle to your touch-up job and help to restore the shiny finish to the surrounding paint. Pop it on and leave it to sit for a few minutes before polishing off with a soft cloth. 

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