Spray.Bike paint is a great way to refresh or personalise your bike. It works on any frame material, is easy to use, and with a bit of practice delivers great results for not much money at all.
Historically, if you scratched your bike to bits or wanted to tart up an old, tired frame you had two options: pay a professional a few hundred quid, minimum for an as-new result, or purchase a can of Hammerite from a DIY shop and bodge on. The Greco-British team behind Spray.Bike spotted this gap in the market and spent several years reinventing spray paint specifically for bikes.
Originating in Athens where local shop Vicious Cycles got fed up with the poor experience using automotive spray paint on bikes, they contacted the local paint manufacturer and a partnership was born. London's Brick Lane Bikes got involved testing early samples, and a three-way partnership evolved to take the idea to market. What Spray.Bike now has is a complete ecosystem of preparation, paint and finishing products that lets you get close to professional results in your own garage for a fraction of the cost.
The Spray.Bike range includes 48 colours, plus a fibreglass putty, a spray-on smoothing putty for minor scratches, and a transparent topcoat finish that gives you matt or satin depending on one or two coats. The five colour ranges cover twee vintage UK to pop-art/fluoro, so there's something for everyone. There are also smaller cans for detail work and a semi-transparent product range for spraying over raw metal.
Keep your powder dry
At the heart of the Spray.Bike proposition is the technology to basically give you powder coating in a can. This powder coating-like technology is great as it dries quickly and is much less likely to run than normal spray paint. You still need to mask your bike correctly, as it does travel and the 'dust' from the paint particles that don't stick to the bike gets everywhere – do not do this somewhere you need to keep clean.
The plan was to rejuvenate my 80s steel cyclo-cross frame (a Belgian Diamant, made from triple-butted Ishiwata Cromo if you must know) in the design of what should be in any sane universe New Zealand's next flag, 'First To The Light', a brilliant design that works on so many levels it's genius, but I digress. The first step was to get the frame and fork shotblasted clean, which cost £15 at a local engineering firm. You can pay a lot more for the same result, so ring around and don't rely on bike-specific outfits if you want to save cash.
Use the opportunity to check the frame over for any cracks or corrosion. Once cleaned up, the act of planning and masking the frame began. Pay attention here as thinking the paint order through correctly can save a lot of time later. I used normal household paint masking tape, which came away easily and could be trimmed to fine points/sharp edges.
Keep your distance
Following the instructions is key – maintaining the optimal distance of 5-10cm is critical, as too close and the paint can run if oversprayed, too far and the finish ends up not being smooth. After a few passes you get a feel for it, so I'd recommend practising on some old pipe or whatever. You really need to mask the rest of the bike properly – I used newspaper and the masking tape itself to cover over everything, and dabs of grease to protect threaded bosses and fiddly bits where tape/paper wasn't a good option. I waited 20 minutes between coats, so with three colours to apply and adjust the masking in between, the whole process took maybe four hours end to end.
Afterwards, there were a few spots that needed rubbing down – Spray.Bike recommends a soft lint-free cloth to smooth out any rough spots, but don't rub too hard; I wore through a layer of paint being a bit vigorous and had to touch it up using a bit of paint and a brush, which worked out okay. After things were done I applied three coats of the Transparent Finish, which does behave differently and, like traditional spray paint, is much more likely to run – so easy does that.
As you can see from the photos, for a first crack at home painting it looks great. Certainly from more than a few feet away you can't tell it's a home-done job, and as it's a FrankenGruppo-San bash-about bike designed to get filthy I'm not too fussed about the few places I could have done better. Around the mudguard bosses I probably laid it on a bit thick, and then when removing the grease protecting the threads the overly thick layer of paint chipped away, so for fine areas like that focus on thin layers with only the central thread protected.
What Spray.bike is not is a miracle cure, and you'll need to protect areas prone to chipping like the top of the chainstay with a clear layer of tape. If you do pick up any chips or scratches, the spray-on Frame Builder's Smoothing Putty goes on and sands down, leaving a base to respray.
At £7.95 for the 400ml cans and £4.95 for the 200ml, it's not a huge outlay. I did three coats of each colour on this frame with about a third left in each 400ml can – so three coats of one colour on a frame/fork might take two cans. Including the shotblasting and a roll of masking tape, that's a new four-tone paintjob with clear coat for less than 60 quid, with the satisfaction of being your own artist. The Spray.Bike website features how-to videos and tips for creating special finishes, only limited by your imagination.
Overall, Spray.Bike is a great low-cost way to renew that commuter, pub or hackabout bike. With attention to detail and a bit of practice/planning you could knock out a real Sunday Run head-turner.
A cheap and satisfying way to renew that old frame or give your ride a new identity
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Spray.Bike paint
Size tested: 400ml
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's for anyone wanting to tart up their bike, without paying a fortune.
The story of Spray.Bike
Spray.Bike is a collaboration between three different companies:
Brick Lane Bikes – a major international manufacturer, retailer and wholesaler in the bike industry, based in London
Vicious Cycles Athens – an urban bike workshop in the centre of Athens, Greece
Cosmos Lac – a high-tech paint manufacturer based in Greece
Spray.Bike was created out of frustration with existing products. if you're not an experienced pro, it's so difficult to use metal or car spray paint on bikes. It drips and dribbles and is extremely hard to control. And professional electrostatic or powder coating can get super expensive.
At VCA, while trying to repair a damaged frame using a standard RAL spray, we were so disappointed with the results that we phoned up the manufacturer, which happened to be Cosmos Lac. 'Well what do you want the paint to do?' was the reply.
After 2 years of development, Spray.Bike is the answer.
VCA and Cosmos Lac sent samples over to Brick Lane Bikes in London for their highly trusted opinion. From the moment they tried it, they wanted to be part of the excitement too.
A modern business venture with partners in different corners of Europe, Spray.Bike is a true collaboration of strengths.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Highly pigmented acrylic paint compound
Dry-fall powder coating
Non-drip, non-dribble formula
No primer required
Suitable for steel, aluminium and carbon surfaces
Permanent and resilient: UV-resistant and weather-resistant
Solid colours with deep matte finish and semi-transparent glazes
Optional transparent finish: matte (one coat) and satin (two coats)
Colours and finishes perform together in all combinations
Easily-achieved fading, stenciling and blending effects
Requires no post-application equipment or treatment
400ml and 200ml options
Instructions for use
Ensure surface is clean and dry
Wear protective gloves, protective clothing, eye/face protection
Always paint in an open space in the open air
Shake can for at least 3 minutes before use
Test spray for 2-3 seconds prior to application
Spray surface from a distance of 5-12cm (note: 30cm for the Transparent Finish)
When spraying, keep hand moving at all times
Allow to dry before adding 2nd coat (touch dry: 10 minutes, complete cure: 2 hours)
At end, turn can upside down and spray for 2 seconds before storing
Protect can from sunlight and temperatures exceeding 50°C/122°F
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.
The packaging, cans and powdercoat nature of the product are excellent.
Compared to normal spraypaint, it's genius.
The one area I'd mark it down – the nature of the paint is not inherently tough.
For the money it's a cracking bike product.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The lack of dribbling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Prior to clear-coating, the finish is a bit fragile – more so than normal acrylic spray paint. Just be aware.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's not 100% idiot-proof (what is?) and practice is required to ensure you don't screw up prior handiwork. And you really do need to clear-coat it once done.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling