LONG-TERM TEST BIKES
Whitey’s achieved his goal, as metamorphosis from MT-09 to TDR homage is finally complete
Yamaha MT-09, Suzuki GSX-R1000R, KTM 1290 Super Duke R, Triumph Speed Triple RS.
HOW MUCH BETTER is that?! I mean, just look at it... Is that not a great looking motorcycle? All it took to finish was a pair of wheels in the appropriate colour. Finally the MT-09’s transformation is complete in every way.
It’s taken months, literally, to organise getting the standard Yamaha fluoro yellow wheels powder-coated gold to ape the anodised rims of the fabled TDR250 that I’d taken inspiration from for the MT’s makeover, but it’s been worth it. I’d been messed around by a firm who said they could do it, but broken equipment, timescale difficulties and the responsibility of handing over wheels that aren’t mine (they do belong to Yamaha after all) meant I needed a better solution. I know too well from personal experience that a good and reliable powder-coater is worth their weight in gold.
I’ve experienced everything from poor finish to completely ruined wheels. Every step of the process is essential to getting the job done well, and every step has its potential pitfalls.
Before explaining, I should introduce Classic Coatings Ltd: they’re one of the good guys. Owner Andy has heard and seen first-hand all my tales of woe, and understands people’s concerns. “Most of the problems and issues with powder-coating motorcycle wheels comes from trusting your wheels to companies who usually deal with industrial-style coating of things like garden gates, where care and understanding of the product being coated aren’t of concern,” he says. “Wheels are accurate pieces of kit and they need to be treated as such through the entire process.”
Of course, the first thing that needs to be done is to strip the old finish from them while maintaining their integrity and dimensions. Classic Coatings use a secret proprietary process before they even reach the shot-blasting cabinet. I’ve had two sets of wheels ruined by two separate companies who didn’t understand that brake disc mounting surfaces need to be looked after during blasting or brake discs will never sit flat, thus warping. Classic Coatings use a fine aluminium oxide medium which is gentle enough to strip paint, but not wheel material. I’m sure some companies use the equivalent of driveway gravel, destroying disc mating surfaces and obliterating the lettering on wheel spokes.
Wheels are heated to a precise 215°C to de-gas them
and prepare them for the new powder-coat. I was amazed to watch Byron applying the statically-charged powder to the grounded wheels and making it look so easy. A sideways glance from Andy was enough to tell me it’s not magic, it’s a true skill. And no, I couldn’t have a go. I ask about the wall of water behind the spray booth. Turns out it’s quite a simple, but ingenious and effective way of filtering the air in the booth without expensive and wasteful disposable filters. Air is drawn towards the wall of water where it turns downwards due to the pull of the waterfall. Dust and excess powder can’t make the turn fast enough, getting caught in the water which is then strained and its sludge disposed of.
A coat of UV-stable lacquer is applied using the same technique, and the wheels are cured in the oven. The flawless results speak for themselves. Classic Coatings even have their own CNC wheel-specific lathe which allows them to machine perfect rim lips for the likes of GPz and RD wheels (or any others with fancy polished bits on) in-house.
I’m so pleased to have found a company I can finally trust after so many I can’t, that they deserve praise for the job. Best of all, fromt £66 per wheel (depending on colours and finish), it’s not even expensive...
‘The fluoro rims have been powder-coated gold to ape those of the fabled TDR250’
Awestruck Whitey gets the powder-coating low-down from Classic Coatings’ boss man
It’s hard to argue with Mark’s assessment of the MT. It’s been transformed into something that performs better and looks just the right side of stabby
Andy inspects the handiwork, and declares it worthy of Whitey’s MT-09