Painting your bike rims is a simple and affordable way to give your bike some flair so long as you follow the right procedure. Although you can paint the rims without disassembling anything, it’s much safer to remove them from the wheel to avoid painting anything outside of them. Start by purchasing your favorite color of high-quality paint, remove the rim from your bicycle, and let the painting begin!
Detach your tire from your bike. Attach the appropriate socket to a socket wrench and remove the nut that holds your wheel in place by rotating it counterclockwise. For rear wheels with a quick-release handle, rotate it 180 degrees into the open position, unhook the chain, and remove the wheel
Remove the spokes from your rims or cover them with masking tape. Removing the spokes from your rims is the best way to avoid getting any paint on them, but you can also cover them with masking tape. If you want to remove the spokes, start by using a screwdriver or spoke wrench to loosen the tension of each spoke nipple. Take care to do so evenly to avoid distorting the wheel’s circular shape. After they’re loose enough, remove the nipples and spokes in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
Take the tire off the rim. Start by removing the plastic cap that covers the air valve stem to deflate the tire. Afterward, insert the tip of a screwdriver or tire lever in between the rim. Press downward to apply upward pressure to the tire and pry it off and continue this process around the circumference of the tire. When half of the wheel is off of the rim, take out the tube inside it and the other half should come off fairly easily.
Remove any stickers from your rim. Start by pulling off as much of the stickers as you can with your fingers. Afterward, pour a small amount of nail polish remover onto a cloth and scrub it over the sticky resin left behind. Now, use a butter knife to scrape the resin into a single clump and pull it off all at once
Buy a high-quality spray paint designed for use on metal. Start by choosing the color that you want and then browse high-quality spray paint brands. Although all-surface paints work, they have less longevity, especially for a bicycle that is exposed to the elements regularly.
Hang your rim middle-chest to shoulder height in a well-ventilated area. Insert a piece of string through your rim’s valve hole—from the inner surface to the outer surface—and tie it into a knot on the outside of the rim. Find somewhere to hang your rim with enough ventilation to allow the paint to dry—basement rafters or piping are both great options.
Apply 1 light, even coat of paint onto your rim. Start by applying a light coat of paint around the entire surface of your rims with long strokes of the spray can while holding it about 1 foot (0.30 m) from the rim. Stay in constant motion and avoid spraying your rim continuously in one area to prevent drips.
Wait 15 to 30 minutes for the paint to dry. After waiting, inspect the paint visually to see if it’s dry. If you can’t tell, touch an inconspicuous part of the rim with your finger. If it’s tacky, it needs more drying time. But if it’s dry to the touch and you don’t get any paint on your finger, you can start spraying on more coats.
Spray on 5 or more coats until your rim is a solid color. Continue applying light coats of paint with 15- to 30-minute breaks in between. Avoid heavy coats and focus on applying consecutive light coats to gradually create a solid color—this will create a longer-lasting job.
Apply 3 coats of clear coat matte or gloss after 2 days. A clear coat of paint helps the paint harden and increases its durability. Apply 3 coats in the same manner as the spray paint, using long strokes and keeping a 1 foot (0.30 m) distance from the rim. Wait 15 to 30 minutes for each coat to dry before applying another.
Reassemble your wheel. If you removed the spokes, reconnect them to the wheel and lock them in place with the spoke nipples. Afterward, put the tire over the rim, taking care to ensure that it’s evenly placed onto the rim. Finally, inflate the tire, connect the wheel to the body of your bicycle, and reattach the bolt by turning it clockwise.