Maria Has A New Bike – A Project

Maria Has A New Bike - A Raleigh Caprice from 1987

Maria Has A New Bike – A Raleigh Caprice from 1987

Maria bike is thought to be a 1987 Raleigh Caprice. It came to us as a tatty blue wreck, we could have left it like that but to be fair first gear didnt work and it was grossly over geared. The brakes didnt do much and the front wheel bearings were falling out. We mechanically restored it, serviced the head set, bottom bracket, brakes and cranks. I built a pair of new wheels for it and put a newly reconditioned Sturmey Archer 3 speed AW hub gearbox in it but it still looked like a tatty blue wreck.

Marias blue bike

Marias blue bike

The tatty blue bike had a certain shabby chic appeal but was never a great advertisement for what we can do so plans were formed for a makeover. At this point I was looking at a colour pallet Mondrian would have approved of but Maria didnt!

Maria settled on Plumstead with details in Gray’s Inn.

And so it was that on a Saturday morning I stripped the bike back to its bare frame, degreased it [use a bucket of hot soapy water and a liberal spray of Mr Muscle Kitchen cleaner], and got the power tools out.

IMG_1101Depending on the state of the paintwork on your bike you might get away with a light sand but in this case the paint was in such a sorry state we had no choice but to take it back to bare metal. This is a time consuming process but the time spent preparing the frame shows in the final finish so be patient and you will get a great result.

In this case we removed most of the paint with a power sander. This is the ‘random orbital‘ style of sander, I used it because I had it there and I had sufficient sanding disks. The power sander is fitted with fine abrasive disks to ensure we dont scratch the surface of the steel under the paint.

We also used a drill mounted wire brush to get in to the corners and finished off with a sanding disk folded in half and a bit of ‘elbow grease’. I used about 5 disks for the entire bike frame, fork and chain cover.

Using the power sander to take the paint off

Using the power sander to take the paint off

You could equally well use conventional paint stripper or take the frame and other parts that need the paint removing to a commercial paint stripper who will return the parts to you in gleaming fresh steel.

If you are working on a steel frame it is worth making sure you remove any rust at this stage [not sure if its steel? if a magnet sticks to it, its steel]. In this case the action of sanding the frame was enough to remove all traces of the light surface rust but you may have to do more. If you are unsure of what you have found under the paint take a snap and email it to us to check out.

Dont forget to look at all the parts you have removed from the bike while you are doing the prep; forks, chain covers, racks, stem, pumps, even the wheels could be colour coded to match the frame at this stage. It is often easier if you can work with someone on this job; take it in turns to sand the parts or clean and prepare the components you are going to refit.

Marias Bike In Bits!

Marias Bike In Bits!

In this case we painted the forks, chain guard and rack at the same time as the frame but decided to fit new mud guards [which we will paint to match when they arrive]. All the other components are going to be checked, serviced and cleaned before they are fitted back to the frame.

We are planning to paint Marias bike in two colors; the majority of the parts will be ‘Plumstead’ but details are picked out in ‘Gray’s Inn’ so we need to plan what gets painted first to get the effects we are after.

Setting up for paint.

Once everything is ready it is worth spending a few minutes setting up for the paint. We had already hung a plastic sheet up to protect our working space from dust and dirt during the sanding so we had a quick sweep up, put the tools away, hung the frame from the roof beams so we could get to all sides without having to handle it and made a coffee before we got started.

The paint we are using is supplied by, the first ever range of bicycle-specific colour coating designed for both amateur and professional use. You can use the range of colours to personalise, change or refresh your ride, creating something unique to you. The paint is supplied in 200 and 400ml spray cans and one 400ml can is enough to do one frame and leave spare for accessories and touch ups.

Before you start make sure you have the following; Eye protection, a disposable face mask, disposable gloves and plenty of ventilation. You may also need masking tape and scissors or a sharp, craft knife. I also had a roll of kitchen towel that proved useful for masking larger areas.

I asked Gareth from for his advice on application and this is what he told us;


As Spray.Bike cans are pressurised, there’s an optimum distance at which the paint is effective on leaving the nozzle: 5-12 centimetres. In this ‘window’ the paint is semi-wet and the pigment is perfectly primed to do its job properly. Under 5 centimetres, faults can occur. After 12 or 14 centimetres the paint will have turned into a dry powder dust with little adhesion at all.

Always move your hand continuously while spraying, as this ensures an even coating. Touch-ups can always be done later don’t over-apply the paint in a single coat.

If re-using the paint after storage, test spray first. If the paint seems to splatter, replace the nozzle as the existing one is probably clogged.


Getting areas where the paint has landed as a powder (and has a rougher surface) will happen but this is easily solved. Leave the paint to completely dry, then using a soft cloth rub gently to smooth the surface.

If you do make a mistake (e.g. put colour in the wrong place or over-apply the product), wait for the spray to completely dry (max 2 hours). Then using a very fine sandpaper or other abrasive material, slowly rub away the paint. Don’t use a traditional solvent paint remover though as it will damage the acrylic compound in Spray.Bike and you’ll end up making more mess.


For best results, don’t be impatient! Although the coating does seem to dry rapidly (touch dry in a few seconds), it’s always best to let the paint completely dry over a 12 hour period before re-building the bike.

Masking and stenciling

If using masking techniques (with, say, masking tape) or stenciling after an initial coat, always wait 20 minutes before adding masking or a stencil to make sure the paint is dry enough not to be pulled away on removal. Masking can sometimes create lines where paint has built up against the edge of the mask: again wait 20 minutes so as not to pull that build-up away on removal of the stencil/mask. Leave for at least 2 hours to dry, and remove excess colour coat by rubbing down with a soft cloth.

Masking difficult areas

Sometimes masking small or intricate areas (such as head badges) can be tricky. When simple masking tape can’t be used, there are alternatives. Thick grease can work really well, as it acts as a barrier between the surface and the paint. We’ve also experimented with margarine and even toothpaste with great results.

Surface texture

Because of the reflective pearlescent particles, the fluro colours are slightly grainier than the other ranges. Rubbing down about an hour after painting with a soft cloth is highly recommended.


Use the Pocket Clears for blending as they can produce rapid and unusual colour change when used in conjunction with (i.e. on top of) solid colours (especially Fluro Clears on top of solid Fluro colours). The Pocket Clears are a solid pigment with a transparent base layer, so the final colour is based on the combination of solid/clear used, e.g. Fluro Yellow Clear on top of a blue will become a green. Use on junctions where 2 dramatic colours meet to create a fade. Give it a bit of practice for great results.


Spray.Bike paint lasts in its can for up to 10 years. Store upright and below 50°C so it will always be there for scratches and touch-ups.

If you have followed these simple stages you should now have a beautiful painted frame hanging from your garage roof. Let it rest for a while then gently rub it all over with a soft cloth. You can leave the frame like this and the paint will have a satin finish but if you want a gloss finish a final coat of Transparent Varnish will bring the colour out under the gloss varnish.

Now leave it over night to properly harden, tomorrow you can put it all back together. The images below [click for high res] are of Marias bike without its new mud guards as they are still on their way. I will update these pictures as soon as we have the final ‘bling’ delivery.

The total cost of this makeover?

Some of the tasks required to make a great job will need professional help, removal of head sets and bottom brackets can be challenging and getting them back in without damaging your new paint needs special tools. See our price list for a breakdown of service costs and consider that if you were to ask us to take your machine and do all this for you we would probably charge about £230. including materials. Marias bike needed a number of repairs and upgrades to get it to this stage and I would estimate the entire investement including new tyres, tubes, brake blocks and a complete set of cables to be around £150 plus labour costs. Maria also fitted a new saddle and grips to finish it off!

The back story for Marias Bike is here.



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