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.
A little elbow grease and a few cans of spray paint later and I now have a shiny new bike!
Giving 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.
Supplies: 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!
I 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.My 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
The article is really great, thanks a lot for it!
I have read every post and still nothing on the color you picked out…
The paint looks to be Rustolium found at your local hardware store. And apply clear coat to seal in color.
I love the color you painted it!!!!!
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! 😉
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 🙂
ahhh I love October and these look so amazing!!! cannot wait!
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.
Oh, man. I feel I need a bike now! See what you’ve done? xD
Oh very nice! Love the color choice and basket.
Beautiful and charming idea, we love all refined diy projects like this!
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.