All you need is just a little patience.
Or a lot of it if you're trying to put graphics on the plastic of your dirt bike.
It can be maddening and bring out the rage in the most mild-mannered person. Some riders know their limits and don't even bother - they'd rather hire a professional to save their blood pressure and get it done right. But if you're adventurous, a full-on DIYer or simply find laying down graphics a battle you intend to win - it can be done and with practice you'll find it's not really that hard.
The biggest problem you'll find when putting graphics on your plastic is bubbling, misalignment, or they don't stick. Unfortunately all of the above at the same time is also in play. If it's your first time doing it don't expect smooth sailing. If you've worked on toy models in the past and figured out how to get those teeny tiny graphics on the jets, cars or whatever you built you're a step ahead.
The hardest areas tend to be the side number plate panels and exhaust side because of the curvature. Regardless, some riders have a gift and do it well, others fall into the "good enough" category and some just can't seem to figure it out no matter how hard they try. Whatever camp you fall in some tips on sticking graphics on to plastic should help ease the pain.
Dirt Bike Graphics Won't Stick
Old or new - clean the plastic really well. Brand new plastic tends to have a waxy residue that needs scrubbing off before applying graphics. Follow the instructions from the graphic manufacturer because some glue reacts differently to certain materials. Apply the graphics according to the directions.
Misaligned Dirt Bike Graphics
This is one of the biggest issues and the old saying "practice makes perfect" definitely rules here. Find a place that's comfortable with lots of room. Some riders lay graphics down on plastic already installed on the dirt bike. If you can do it this way, more power to you. However, this method is more constricting and other bike parts could get in the way. Standing over the top of a piece of plastic resting on a table top allowing you to move uninhibited is your best bet to reduce or eliminate misaligned graphics.
Bubbling happens. Smaller bubbles sometime flatten out over time, especially in the sun, but those larger bubbles look awful. Then you have to unpeel and try again. After applying the graphic to a piece of plastic work the bubbles or wrinkles from the inside out using your fingers. A hair dryer on low setting helps soften the material and makes it easier to massage any bubbles out.
MotoSport now has an in-house graphic production department and we offer custom printing. We use Ultracurve X1 print-film from Substance for our graphics which is a high-end print-film allowing for bubble-free application of Motocross graphics. The graphics are then laminated with Ultracurve 1500 for protection, durability and flexibility.
If you've ordered graphics from MotoSport you should hopefully see reduced installation time and little to no bubbling.
Check out the following video with Brett Cue providing tips and tricks to installing dirt bike graphics. (Note: The graphics used were not the current standard that prevents bubbling as mentioned above.) A transcript is also available for the video.
Written By: AndrewT