Welcome to our ultimate guide to dirt bike graphics 2020. Graphics really help make your dirt bike look the part. Stickers and graphics also serve a practical purpose. Fitting custom or branded graphics also offers protection to your plastics.
This article will give you pointers on how to source and fit graphics to your dirt bike. Whether you’re thinking about a custom look or buying a ready-made off-the-shelf graphics kit, our ultimate guide will help you. We will answer frequently asked questions such as how to apply graphics, how to look after graphics once they are in place, and how to remove old vinyl graphics.
Which Dirt Bike Graphics Should I choose?
Many dirt bike graphic kits are centred on popular motocross brands, such as; Red Bull, Monster Energy and Rockstar. Other sticker kits are based on factory teams such as Honda and Kawasaki. There are even kits for private race teams like Fox Racing, and individual riders from those teams.
If you have your own designs in mind, you can create your own team look. There are some excellent resources for creating custom styles, fonts and graphics that enable you to stand out and look like the real deal when you hit the trails.
Read on and find out about:
- Best Dirt Bike Graphics kits
- Where to buy and select your dirt bike graphics
- Where to get custom graphics
- How to install your dirt bike graphics
- How to remove dirt bike graphics and adhesives
- Cleaning and maintaining your graphics
Best Dirt Bike Graphics Kits
You’ll want your graphics to stand the test of time and withstand the scrapes and bumps from the track, so it is essential to consider your options before you begin.
If you work your bike to the max, you’ll want your dirt bike decals to be between 16-20 mils thick (or around 400-500 microns).
Lower quality and cheaper vinyl is available, but might not last as long. It all depends on how hard you ride and the conditions you ride in. As with many dirt bike products, buy the best you can afford. Buy cheap, buy twice.
One benefit of a ready-made kit is that you can match the style of your bike to your other gear. A pre-made kit arrives branded and cut to size, with each sticker ready to adhere to your bike plastics, forks, swing arm, wheels and so on. A pre-made kit will usually follow the design of a team or rider. Premium kits are accurate down to the smallest detail. Budget kits will often only give the overall impression of a team bike.
As with all dirt bike parts, you will need to order a kit for your specific bike, year, and model. All the various parts of your bike will have a ready-made sticker. All you have to do is assign the right graphic to the correct part of your dirt bike.
Another benefit of fitting new graphics kits is that they are a great way to spruce an old dirt bike up and make it look new again.
What to look for in a Dirt Bike graphic kit
Good quality dirt bike graphics are designed from incredibly tough material with a strong LSE (low surface energy) adhesive to ensure everything stays in place. Look for trusted adhesive brands such as 3M, and a decent thickness to the vinyl. UV protective coating is another sign of a quality product.
Graphics need to be robust and resilient to wear and tear from dirt bike boots and kit rubbing them, as well as dirt and stones being thrown up from the track. Mud, water and rain are always the enemies of any dirt bike part, and your new graphics will need to be extremely tough and durable.
Where to buy your Ready Made Motocross Graphics kits
Look at how long a graphics set lasted, based on the riders’ style of riding and compare it to your own needs.
Suppliers at the top end of the price range offer 5-7 year wrap guarantees as well as anti-bubble technology!
Check out some fantastic Dirt Bike Graphic Kits below:
Where to get Custom Dirt Bike Graphics
If you want your dirt bike stand out and include sponsors, specific logos or team colours; you will need custom dirt bike graphics. From a solo privateer, all the way through to a multi-rider team, you can design and specify a complete made to measure kit for your dirt bike, toolboxes, vans and accessories.
Custom dirt bike graphics are a great way to make your bike personal to you and your team. As with kits, you should buy from reputable sources, checking for good reviews and ratings.
As with the pre-made kits, the quality of the laminate and adhesive is a significant consideration. Use the same guidelines for vinyl thickness, as mentioned earlier in the article.
Once you’ve finalized your idea and uploaded all designs to the supplier, print designs should be sent to you for verification and approval before you sign-off for shipping. Never accept delivery of a custom kit unless you have already signed off on the proofs of the graphics first.
If you are looking for custom MX numbers, you can find them here:
How to remove old dirt bike graphics
So you’re ready to remove the old graphics from your dirt bike. If you have a few days before new graphics arrive, or unable to ride for a while, this is a great time to prep your dirt bike.
There’s a simple tried and tested way to remove old stickers – use a hairdryer. Not everyone has access to a heat gun, so a hairdryer does the job and is much gentler than a heat gun, allowing for more time to get your graphics in the right alignment. If you have a heat gun, this will work too but take care not to damage the plastics.
Apply gentle heat to the sticker, peel it back slowly from the plastic and any adhesive or glue should come off with it.
The old adhesive can be stubborn, it may have been on there a while. Use WD40, or contact cleaner to remove residual glue. Once you have removed what you can, give the panel a thorough clean down with a decent soap.
If you find certain areas are still covered in old adhesive, try using one of the following liquids to remove any stubborn areas. DO NOT MIX THESE LIQUIDS.
Pick one and apply it in isolation, in a well-vented area and away from naked flame.
- Paint thinners
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Bug and tar remover
- Lighter fluid.
If you use any of the above, wash each panel a second time before applying new graphics, as these liquids could damage your new stickers.
Now is an excellent time to see if any of your plastics need replacing. New graphics won’t bond as well to scuffed, cracked and uneven surfaces and damaged plastics. You can find an article on dirt bike plastics elsewhere on the site.
If you are prepping old plastics, then double-check to make sure no tiny plastic spikes or barbs are protruding from any surface where stickers are required. You require as smooth an area as possible to put your graphics on to.
If there are any protrusions or abrasions, you can use a sharp knife to remove these and smooth out the surface with light grade emery cloth. Finally, finish the area with a polishing paste. Solvol Autosol, Turtle Wax or similar products are perfect for this. Always clean the surface with soapy water, and dry cloth as the final stage.
If the plastics are beyond repair, then again you might want to consider new ones. You can read about this in our separate article on choosing plastics.
Even if you have new plastics, they’ll still need to be cleaned. Use acetone and a soft cloth to do so and then wash with a decent soap and water, wipe again to remove any detergent with a clean, dry cloth. Stickers adhere best to clean dry surfaces, so preparation is vital.
Repeat the above with each of the plastic panels, and any surface where you wish to fit stickers. Once you have done this, you are ready to install your new graphics.
How to install your Dirt Bike Graphics
Installing dirt bike graphics doesn’t have to be a chore. If you follow our simple steps, you’ll be back out on track before you know it, with a brand new look, and graphics that will stand up to the rigours of riding offroad.
When the mail arrives, don’t rush out to stick the new dirt bike graphics on your bike! Check that every single part is present in the package. When you are happy that the kit is complete, line up each piece with your dirt bike to see if they will fit. Mistakes can happen when packing, and if you are buying for an old model, you may find there is some variation in sizes of panels.
Taking the time to check each piece before you start sticking bits on allows you to go back to the supplier if something is missing, is the wrong size or model, or damaged in transit. Once you have started applying graphics to the bike, it is too late, so be thorough.
Fitting your new MX graphics
Start somewhere that is easy to access with a wide surface area. Lay your graphics in place while still attached to the backing to check for spacing and alignment. You have already done this once, but we believe in the adage, measure twice, cut (or fit) once…
When peeling off of the backing sheet, start at one end of the sticker, usually the larger end, and work your way to the smaller section. You can use a light detergent with water in a mist sprayer to wet the adhesive and help you slide the graphics into place. Work out any air bubbles. Quickly lift and try again if your graphic is not in the right place, or if air bubbles are too large.
Once you have your graphic is in the correct position, use a heat gun or hairdryer to set off the adhesive and create a robust seal.
Take your time when warming, and pressing on graphics which have complex shapes, or smaller graphics which may curl easily.
Tips for working with new dirt bike stickers:
When fitting bigger graphics, only peel the backing paper from the area of the decal you are working on first. Trying to fit an entire sticker in one go will get messy. Having too much adhesive sheet exposed will lead to the graphic sticking to things it shouldn’t. Instead, peel part of the backing off and fix in place. As you push the graphic down to the plastic, (pushing away from you), peel the remaining backing sheet off. Use a soft cloth to adhere it to the surface as you go. Watch this process here and learn a really neat trick to reduce air bubbles.
Graphics should never be applied towards you, as you don’t want to pull air back underneath which can potentially create air bubbles.
Everything should slot neatly into place including lining up any holes for fixing the plastics back on, so check these as you go.
If you see an area that doesn’t want to sit on the plastic, it’s probably just cold and needs a little blast of heat. Your aim is to have no bubbles, and a look that is symmetrical on both sides. Don’t be afraid to peel back and adjust as you go.
Once happy that everything is in place, trim away any excess with scissors, or a craft knife.
Step back, check everything is ok and only then use your heat gun or hairdryer to activate the adhesive and seal graphics into their final position.
Some plastics and areas of your bike will be more difficult than others to work with. Uneven surfaces and curves are trickier. Remember to take your time and to keep your hands free of grease and dirt.
Repeat the process around all the areas of the bike that require graphics, remembering not to seal with heat until you’re entirely happy.
Don’t leave your dirt bike in direct sunlight after fitting new graphics as this can cause air bubbles to form.
And there you have it, your bike is now personalized and protected from everything the track might throw up at it.
How to get rid of air bubbles in stickers
You’ve fitted your new graphics, and then you notice there are air bubbles. Maybe you have some old graphics on your bike that are bubbling, and you want to fix them? Is this possible? Yes. Here are our tips for doing just that.
Air bubbles in new graphics
If you’re fitting new graphics, the best way is to try avoiding air bubbles in the first place. You can do this by ensuring the area for your graphics is well-prepped, taking your time when applying a graphic, and only removing the backing sheet a bit at a time.
Air bubbles caused when applying new stickers to old plastics
If you have followed all of the steps mentioned earlier in our article, any air bubbles may have been caused by a damaged or pitted surface. If you can peel the new sticker off, and re-prep the surface, then do so. If not, you can use the method in the next section.
Air bubbles in old graphics and stickers
Sometimes air bubbles can appear in old graphics. This happens for a variety of reasons. Heat, fuel spillages, bending of components and wear and tear can all cause air bubbles over time. Follow the following steps to fix them:
- Heat the bubble to expand the air inside and allow any adhesive underneath to become sticky again.
- Use a new, sharp and rust-free razor blade to cut a small x into the bubble. This will allow an escape route for the air underneath.
- Smooth the bubble down using your finger. A finger is better than using a credit card, as plastic can damage your graphics, and scratch colours from the surface.
Watch this video to see the process in action.
Follow these steps, and it should sort any bubble issues you have!
Protecting your Dirt Bike Graphics
As well as looking great, dirt bike graphics are there to protect the plastics on your bike. Your vinyl reflects roost and avoids pits in the plastics.
More expensive or high-end dirt bike graphic options should last longer. They’ll be more durable and resistant to scuffs and scrapes from the dirt or even from general wear and tear from you and your kit. You do get what you pay for.
If you do end up selecting a cheaper or a more expensive option, there are ways to keep graphics looking good. We recommend you buy a soft rubberized grip tape and stick around areas where your graphics get more wear and tear, such as around the shrouds, the tank, and the side panels. The joy of this layer of tape is that you can break out the heat gun or hairdryer, peel back and replace this protective layer every few weeks. This should keep your graphics ship-shape and shiny. This layer should also protect against things like potential UV damage and rocks thrown up.
Enjoy your new look dirt bike. We will be back with more Motocross Advice soon. Have fun out there!