How To Paint Your Own Bike

DIY Bike Makeover (A Beautiful Mess)I've pined after pretty vintage bikes but never come across one with quite the shape I loved until recently. I was on a quest to bring home something old and beautiful when I ran across a purple and white 1960's Hiawatha with the most charming headlights and original stickers. It was in working shape but needed a little TLC so I brought it home to see what I could do.

Bike Makeover Before + AfterA little elbow grease and a few cans of spray paint later and I now have a shiny new bike!

Bike Basket DIYGiving your bike a makeover can feel intimidating but I'm here to share a few things I learned along the way that will help you end up with something you can be proud to ride down the street.

How To Paint Your Own BikeSupplies: You'll need a bike, hehe, a sandpaper block in a medium-light grade, painter's tape, a wrench, a screw driver or two depending on your bike screws, scissors (optional), a big box to flatten out and use to protect your surface, primer spray paint, spray paint in choice of color(s), wash rag, painters mask (not shown) and eye goggles (optional). 1. Take lots of detail shots of your bike before you take it apart so you can see how things fit back together when you get to that step. I didn't remember if the bike rack legs went on the inside or outside of the bike frame so I was glad I could refer back to my photos. 2. I also drew a little picture of my bike on another piece of paper and laid out all the screws I took out on the bike part where they belonged. I suggest numbering the steps you took the bike apart in as well so you can put it back together faster. Once your bike is in pieces, lightly sand the parts you want to paint. I chose to paint my fenders but not my handlebar and pedals. I set aside my seat and taped everything I couldn't physically remove from the frame such as the gear and pedals (they were stuck on!), the handlebars, and the chain. 3. Next I used a wet cloth to wipe down each piece to remove dust and previously sanded paint fragments and let it dry. Then I applied three thin coats of primer spray paint following the manufacturer's instructions to allow 10 minutes of dry time between each coat. Once I had the primer on, I let it dry overnight to set. Then I applied three thin coats of my top coat of spray paint making sure to let one side dry before doing the other side. Again, follow the directions on your can and don't over spray because you'll have ugly drips and want to curse. Let it set again for 24 hours and then add two coats of polyurethane spray paint to seal it. Put it back together following your photos in reverse order and you're done!

Note: If you find a bike with a lot of rust you'll need to use a power sander or rust remover before painting. As always, safety first!

Bike BasketI chose not to reattach the headlight portion of my bike because it wasn't taking the new spray paint and was too rusted to reattach without it looking terrible. I like the new shape that I got because of it being off but I'm saving it just in case. I also added a basket to the front. I found it at a major hobby store and just tied it to the handlebars with twine. Zip ties are an option if you can find them in clear but I liked the aesthetic of twine better. It's more for decoration than utility anyway. If you have to store your bike in the elements you'll want to consider something that won't wear out quickly such as a wicker or wire basket.Rachel's Bike Makeover for A Beautiful MessHow To Paint Your BikeHow To Paint Your Bike on A Beautiful MessMy next plans for this bike are to add reflectors for night riding and get a new brown leather seat cover and new handle covers. I might even need to add some tassels!

I hope this gives some of you courage to tackle your own bike makeover! –Rachel

  • Apply a clear coat on the bike frame with lacquer. This will seal in the paint and give us a nice finish.

  • Hi Love what you did. So pretty. Where did you get that cute basket? Thanks Patti

  • Two helpful hints from a bike enthusiast…

    1. Make sure your primer paint is for covering rust. Even though it’s been sanded down, plain primer paint simply won’t do the job. The rust will eat right back through especially on these old steel frames.

    2. When re-assembling, be sure your chain tension is correct. This looks great but with how loose the chain is you’re likely to snap your chain or get in an accident while riding!

  • Love your site so much!!! Such an amazing tutorial. Imm going now to paint my bike into a creamy shade 🙂

  • You’ve just made me a very happy girl. I have a red Raleigh that I’m itching to be duck egg or cream and The Husband was adamant it couldn’t be done.
    I’m sending him this post right now! 😉
    Thank you

  • Love this idea! I have an old white and rusty bike, and it might get a new look next summer. Maybe light yellow or light blue.

  • Oh my gosh! I came across your DIY reunion votive idea and I swear I recognize the yearbook page of your dad. Please tell me – so i don’t think i’m crazy – where did your dad go to school?

  • Finally!! My question has been answered!! I most definitely will try this one weekend before the weather gets way too cold!!!
    My bike has turned all rusty and ugly and so needs a new look 🙂 thanks for this cute DIY post 🙂

  • While the bike looks great, I would recommend taking the parts to your neighborhood bike shop and have it reassembled properly, just to be safe. It shouldn’t cost too much.

  • Love, love, love this! I’ve just discovered the delights of spray paint myself and this is extra inspiration!

  • Very nice just be very careful. With so few layers of paint, dings and chips will happen very, very easily. Trust me, it’s happened to me with quite a few more layers than this! I would suggest lots of clear coat. At least two cans worth. It takes much longer, but worth it.

  • Love it!!!!!!!!!
    Also you can go totally crazy and add some pop art to it!!!

  • Perfect post, just in time for fall riding. My bike really needs a coat of paint, since its vintage, andI found in the trash.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • You guys rock, best website ever. Don’t stop posting, I come here like everyday- always looking for more!

  • Perfect color for the bike! Lovely with the red flowers, good excuse not to store the bike in the basement over winter – use it as garden decoration! 😉

  • This is lovely!
    I don’t know if there’s a place where you can just send general messages, so this is pretty unrelated, but I love your blog so much, it’s so inspiring and always puts me in a great mood. You are both lovely, beautiful girls and thank you so much for blogging. 🙂

  • I love vintage bikes! the colour you used to decorate it is so nice!
    please check my blog out:

  • What an awesome project; I love seeing bikes brought back to life! 🙂 Cycling and fashion go wonderfully together!

  • I´ve been wanting to do this for a while but I never knew how to start. Thanks!

  • This gives me a great idea as to what to do with my old bike…

  • I’ve been on the hunt for a mint green vintage bike forever. What a great way to make one your own!

    The Glossy Life

  • I want this bike! Beautiful!! I’ve just started trying to find an old one, or even new one, similar to this. I have no idea where to look…

  • wow rachel, your bike looks lovely!
    mine is screaming for a make-over, thank you so much for sharing these tips.
    xo, cheyenne

  • This is such a fun idea! I love your bike!


  • Hihii in Amsterdam this is a big trend! Did the same to mine 🙂


  • Very nice job. I had been thinking about giving my bicycle some fresh color. Perhaps I’ll try it by myself now.

  • You really did “revamp your ride”!

    Love your colour choice. To me, the hardest part of this re-do is finding the bike, but I am persistent…and I have a alot of patience. So, maybe, one day I, too, can ride in style!

  • I painted mine with rustoleum brush on paint, I didn’t have to take the bike apart that way, I was just really careful and used a small brush in the tight spots. I love painted bikes!

  • I like the flowers so much! 🙂 Check this out, If you like fashion, blogs and photography, this is a perfect place for you! See & Share your photos with everyone, make your own advertisement and get your own statistics 🙂 I hope you will like it, thanks for your time 🙂

  • So adorable! I want the exact same 😀 Thanks for sharing!
    Merrily Merrily,


  • Great job! I have always wanted a new old bike but was intimidated on restoring it. Shops here (I’m from the Philippines) charge so much as $700 for the painting. With that amount I may as well buy a new bike! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  • I had to comment on this! A few months ago, I was thinking about doing tutorial just like this but I never followed through with it. Honestly, wow. You make it look effortless and easy! Thanks for this great tutorial:)

  • This is such a great DIY i have always wanted to give it a whirl. Love it.


  • Oh my god you now have possibly the cutest bicycle in the world! And you made it! That is just plain awesome.

  • I also did a bike makeover (red and white polkadots): I love the colour you chose! It’s so pretty. I bought a tandem bike for my boyfriend for his birthday, maybe we should give that one a make-over too 😀

  • I was only talking about getting hold of my Mum’s old vintage bike and spraying it a gorgeous mint colour yesterday and this popped up! Unfortunately Ma cleaned out her garage and threw (yes threw) away the bike. I am devastated. Ebay it is! Love this bike. So pretty.


  • Oh, I love it! I understand you want to put a leather seat and new handles, but please maintain them white… It looks SO PRETTY with that soft color combo… 😀

    Congrats on your new old bike!


  • Painting bikes has become quiet a trend in the town where I went to university during the past years. Some of the students started to create really creative looks for their bikes, like stripes, or a red base with white dots and so on. Some added accessories as well. After some time more and more people started to paint their bikes and that looked really great and fun.

  • I love this idea, i got given a bike by a friend and its way too sporty for my liking! Off to buy some paint today… might even steal the colour idea too! Its perfect!

  • Love vintage bikes!
    My needs a redo, i take note!

  • Oh this is just PERFECT for us here in the Netherlands! The bikes get a lot of tear and wear under all that rain, and most bikes here look so unloved and rusty! I’m going to try this on my “weekend” bike.

  • So cute! Unfortunately I only have a new bike 😉

  • Ladies! Been following your site for some time and wanted to subscribe to your RSS feed but did you know the RSS page cuts off the right side of all of your photos?

    Just letting you know!

  • you make it seem so easy that i just might try it! but having a bike that beautiful in new york means you better have a pretty heavy duty lock to go along with it!


  • Haha it looks like you painted it the same color I painted my dresser! Ocean breeze blue or something like that? How fun!

    xoxo Sarah

  • OMG. You have my dream bike! No joke. I always wanted one the same color with a basket in the front. It’s sooo adorable. <3

  • Awesome…..

    FYI.. for the BEST advice…

    DO (not meant talk loud) I mean it.. DO please buy front headlight, great kind with real light and back light that flash well. get best attention in the distance coming on traffic or so. Check bike store.. (may be costly but worth it) (one kind can’t recall brand? Cat something.

    Helps lot in dark.. trust me.. My self bike lover… seen it myself using them the best, while others almost not see in dark..

  • I have a ugly left bike here, I’ll probably make it look pretty and haply ride it now, Thanks girl 🙂

  • The bike came out so great! i can’t wait to have a new bike and paint it a great color!

  • Oh wow! The transformation is really stunning! I have a two bikes I have been meaning to update, but I was curious what you did with the rusty bits? Did you just paint over them or sand all of the rust off first? I recently found some colorful handle bar tape from the 1990s for 95cents that looked similar to this: Seeing your bike is giving me new inspiration to get working on my bikes! 🙂 Thank you for a wonderful post!

  • OMG I could just scream with happiness right now. Literally two weeks ago I bought the perfect vintage bike at a thrift store for $20 ($40 originally but I had an instore credit), but it definitely needed some serious TLC and I was wondering how I can paint it a funky raspberry or magenta… and then this post! Thank you!

  • This is SO timely – my mom recently got a vintage tandem bike that we want to fix up and repaint! Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

  • I love the color and your paint job looks great!

    As an employee of a bike shop, I would recommend having a mechanic look over your bike. That way you can keep your cute bike running longer. Ask for some tips, if needed, because a little maintenance here and there can really go a long way! 🙂

  • absolutely darling. now if i only knew how to ride a bike!


  • Beautiful!!! I wanted to do something like this but decided to leave it ugly looking as theft protection. I have to take my current bike to the store and get it checked out but if I get a new one I’ll definitely give this a go.

  • LOVE the new look – the minty green is so FRESH and fun!

    -Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:

  • I love those bikes, I’ve been dreaming about one like that forever. Love the color you chose.

  • So pretty! Who knew it would be that easy??
    xo Heather

  • I moved to LA recently and, with its legendarily awful traffic and lack of public transportation, I’ve been seriously considering buying a bike to get around. There are lots of bikers here, and I always love seeing unique and pretty bikes. Maybe I’ll get the chance to do this soon! – Alison { }

  • What a cute makeover for a bike! And a brown leather seat cover would fit perfectly with the new color!
    I’m afraid my poor bike has to wait ’til next spring to get a makeover because being pregnant seven month now I don’t really ride my bike anymore since I had some dangerous situations and I really don’t want to endanger my baby and me…so, I hope I’ll remember this post next year!

  • This is an incredible tutorial! I have a pretty mint green bike, but would love to change mine to a kelly green!
    ~Anna Lee McFadden

  • Rachel, this is gorgeous!! I can’t believe the transformation – I definitely have to do this!

    Stephanie May*

  • Love the result! I would totally do this with 1. If i had a bike and 2. If i knew how to ride one. Hehe

    My blog:

  • Love the results! I would totally do this with 1. If i had a bike and 2. If i knew how to ride one. Hehe

    My blog:

  • that’s so cool! such a nice colour too, wish i had a bike like that!

  • My bike is definitely in need of a makeover but I’m not sure I’ll be able to this on my own. Might need my bf help!

  • That’s such a pretty color! Love the flowers to!

  • Excellent DIY – time to buy a second hand bike and make it look this pretty!! Better learn how to ride one too!

  • This is amazing!! Rachel is so clever and never ceases to amaze me with her ideas!
    I don’t think she could have picked a more perfect colour as well!

  • I did a post on this not so long ago… I didn’t take any of my bike apart though, I simply covered the chain and tires and everything else with newspaper. Taking it apart might have been cleaner, but it didn’t turn out so bad. I also used a similar colour :p the flowers you have in the basket look stunning with this shade.
    Great job! Love the post 🙂

    Aoife x

  • Literally perfect timing! My bike just got stolen, and, as I’m unable to afford a new one right now, I’ve decided to restore an old one from a friend: I’m painting it this weekend!

  • Oh wow! This is amazing! Such a great idea! Now I just need to find me a vintage bike 😉 The results look wonderful though!

  • Such a cute bike Rachel! It looks fantastic 🙂 Love the colour!

  • thank you for this post! i have an original Schwinn back from when they still made them in chicago that ive been wanted to fix up for a while. this is very helpful!!

  • Rachael is awesome and never ceases to amaze me with her DIY skills! <3

  • Oh I just bought a new bike…..I wonder how long I should keep it before I can paint it lemon yellow or mint green or maybe pink….

  • such a beautiful transformation!! Love the colour you picked. Proofs that there is potential in almost everything if you’re brave enough to try. Thanks ladies.

  • Oh! One question though. About how many cans of both primer and paint did you go through in the process? Thanks!

  • This couldn’t have been posted at a better time! Just this week I’ve decided to paint my old bike and I was planning on going to pick up the paint today, I’m so glad I saw this before I headed out : )

  • Looks great, I love the color you chose! I have an old seventies schwinn just waiting for a makeover.

  • Love this! The flowers are a nice touch as well! Now you have me thinking of painting my mountain bike.

  • Thank you! My old Western Flyer needs a new paint job. I think I’ll keep my chrome details but I’m tired of the flaking paint.
    Now, to pick a color and find a cute basket….

  • WOWZERS!! What a beautifully restored bike. I love the colour and the shape is gorgeous. Well done clever lady

  • I was thinking of taking my bike in to get new paint. Maybe I will try doing it myself. Thanks girls!

  • Awesome job!!

    I spray painted my bike back when I was younger, loved it (bright red with neon orange grips, it was the early 90s), but it didn’t come out nearly as good or as smooth as your did.

  • Great job Rachel! 🙂 I just got a new bike so I won’t be needing to paint it anytime soon, but I’ve always loved the idea of fixing up an old one. You found the cutest one ♥

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.