My brother recently picked up a Kawasaki ER-6F (kudos to him – he’s just started riding after a serious accident over three years ago) and decided to apply vinyl wrap to the middle of the tank. This was for the sole purpose of preventing scratches caused by a magnetic tank bag and riding gear. Wrapping isn’t something either of us have tried on a vehicle before, though we have previously wrapped other items. My bathroom has a lime green bath panel and I recently created a splashback for my coffee machine (pic included in gallery below).
First jobs were to:
- Strip the filler cap
- Remove the seat and unbolt the tank to get a little lift on it and make installation easier
- Wash the bike and clean the tank thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol and a clean lint free rag. The alcohol removes polish and wax that would prevent the vinyl from sticking
We sourced the vinyl and cutting tape from eBay (this will become a theme – I buy way too much from there!). We opted for bubble free vinyl wrap to ease the installation process and cutting tape to help get the final shape of the wrap correct. Cutting tape is laid on the wrap surface and contains a filament wire that is pulled away to give a neat cutting line. It also negates the need to have to cut on the surface
Armed with a hot air gun, clean hands and air from the compressor (to blow away pesky dust) we attacked!
The gallery below doesn’t cover the entire process but will give you an idea of our overall approach. I will get into a better habit of taking step by step pictures!
Applying the Vinyl Wrap
- Lay cutting tape on the tank, leaving a short extra length of wire sticking out to grab and pull
- Cut vinyl to shape, peel back roughly half way and start to lay from the middle out
- Work any small bubbles out from the middle, peeling back the vinyl where necessary (where rucks start to form)
- Use a hot air gun to heat the vinyl wrap for more extreme curves. Don’t heat too much or you’ll over stretch the material and turn the matt finish glossy!
- When folding around a circle (in this case the filler hole), use cuts to help ease the vinyl. A scalpel and a new sharp blade is critical
- Peel back the remainder of the vinyl and repeat steps 3-4
- Cut the vinyl by carefully pulling the filament wire away from the surface (we used forceps) and peel off the remaining cutting tape
It took us a couple of hours from start to finish because we found it difficult to get the vinyl to follow all the curves. In this case they run both front to back and side to side. On the plus side, if it goes wrong, pull it off and start again or warm the vinyl wrap. As a result of heat it’ll return to it’s original shape.