Color-matching the new café tail
the final step of a custom bike build or modification is often the paintwork. A unique paint job sets a motorcycle apart from stock machines and allows an owner to express a bit of their personality. But painting a motorcycle requires an entirely different skill set than mechanical work. Even with a detailed set of instructions, getting the finish smooth and glossy can be challenging for the first-time DIYER.
After installing the H-D Café Custom Tail kit in the last update, I’ve had plenty of time to decide how I wanted to finish the look. The factory blackpainted tail wasn’t bad—and it would have looked great with a black tank— but our Harley-davidson Roadster
The learning curve to apply custom paint is steep, but Colorrite makes the job doable for the weekend DIYER. Instructions are easy to follow, products are easy to mix, and the color match is spot on.
needed an extra kick. I decided to stick with the factory color then broke out my spray gun to see what I could do.
Like many modern paint finishes, the Velocity Red Sunglo on the 2017 Roadster is a three-stage paint consisting of a base metallic (in this case, a dark silver), a middle translucent toner coat (custom painters refer to this as “candy” paint), and a urethane clear coat.
As soon as my paint arrived from Colorrite (colorrite.com), I set aside a weekend to tackle the job. Saturday was spent cleaning the garage and making it as dust-free as possible. Next, I made sure that I had all of my prep materials (sandpaper, masking tape, and cleaning solvents) in order. Then I taped out a simple two-tone pattern on the tail before disassembling it. My goal was to paint the top portion of the tail to match the tank and leave the bottom half black to flow into the black side covers.
If you’re a first-time painter attempting a three-stage paint job like this, I recommend buying extra paint so that you can practice. A badly painted tail can make sending your bodywork to a custom shop (an estimated cost of $1,000), or purchasing Harley’s “Caffeine” Limited Series Paint Set ($2,900 with matching tank and tail), seem like a wise investment. But honing your skills can pay off. My total cost going the DIY route: $350 for the Colorrite paint and about $20 for tape and a gallon of acetone.
Custom painting can be frustrating, but be patient and persistent. With a little practice you’ll end up with a bike—and a paint job—you can be proud of.
wrist Brian Hatano
msrp (2017) $11,299
mods Colorrite Paint