How to paint your Spokes without taking Your Wheels apart

This could be called a “winter Project”

It isn’t something I would do in the middle or winter riding season, but it isn’t that difficult and it actually takes 3-4 hours for each wheel.

This is the final result. I chose black because I felt the silver paint looked fake. It will go well with my newly rebuilt gold calipers.

This post explains how to paint brake calipers

You may be wondering why you would paint your spokes.

Simply put, my spokes look old and dreadful!

My bike is an 2008 model. The OEM spokes are not the same as the stainless steel ones that age well. They rust when the zinc plating is worn off and they look horrible.

Do not make my mistake by using harsh cleaners on your wheels such as Mag Wheels Cleaner or Car Engine Degreaser. These products can eat the spokes’ surface plating and leave marks on the polished aluminum wheels.

Are you out of control? Have you heard of spoke sleeves?

Yes, it’s possible. But it’s too easy!

These are really ugly. The rust is worse under the sleeves.

New wheels starting at $2000 with VS paint/masking tape, $30

While I was undergoing major upgrades such as a 320mm front disc, I started to think about wheels. The bike’s feel will be affected by factors such as unsprung weight, rigidity, reliability, and stability.

After imagining a set Woody’s Wheelworks Superlace, I bought them. These are what Lindon Poskitt rides on his rally bikes (or at least Wrap9). I realized that this was not an option financially.

All it took was the desire to have better wheels.

New rims and spokes for OEM hubs

I don’t think so. It would only bring marginal performance for the money you spend, even if the work is done by someone else. For now, I decided to refurbish my wheelset.

Although I would love to see the wheel completely black, I decided against it because even with great preparation, painting the rims won’t give me long-lasting results.

Here’s the complete tutorial on how to paint your spokes

Supplies and tools required

  • To take off the wheels, use wrench size 10, 19, and 24
  • Steel wire brush and medium-grit Scotch brrite pad
  • A small paint brush and a bottle of Rust Inhibitor
  • Masking tape, 1″ or 2″ in width (I recommend 3M automotive stuff for 1″, as it sticks well even with small pieces like between the spokes).
  • Spray can enamel with rust protection in any color (Krylon Gloss works well, but you can also choose a matte finish)
  • Eyelet reinforcement for binder papers (this is how you do a great job around the spokes!)
  • A pair of scissors to cut small pieces of masking tape
  • Use a small spatula to place a piece of tape.
  • A few newspapers to cover your tire and rim.

Preliminary tasks

  • Clean both the wheels and take them off your bike.
  • To reach the hub, it is helpful to remove the discs and the sprocket carrier.

Step 1: Rust prep (approximately 40 minutes)

After your wheels have dried, you can give them a quick brushing with the wire brush. Make sure to focus on any rusty/corroded areas.

The Scotch Brite pad is the same idea. It will be handy to reach tight places that you can’t with the brush.

Next, apply the rust inhibitor using the small brush. It can be tedious to cover all surfaces of the spokes but it is easy and quick. Allow to dry completely. It’s best to let it dry overnight.

Step 2: The Masking Tape Party (approximately 2h).

Start with the hubs. Cut 1/4-inch strips from your 1″ roll masking tape. Place them between the spokes. Place several pieces around the spokes so that paint is not exposed.

All around the spoke, the stripes will be placed on top of one another. The image below demonstrates the idea.

After you’ve completed them all, you can apply the larger masking tape to the entire hub at a quicker pace.

Next, move to the rim. This is where you will find the eyelet reinforcement.

You can simply cut them while they are still on the backsheet. Then, peel them off and place them around your spoke. Finally, slide them down to stick to the rim.

They don’t conform as well to masking tape. To get to the base, I would press them down on the nipple first.

Next, use the same technique as the hub to place a larger piece of masking tape between the two spokes. Place it over the eyelets. Use multiple stripes around your nipple for a wider coverage. This will keep them flattened around the hub.

After you have covered the in-between area of the rim with tape, you can wrap the tape around the entire rim using the full width. Then, wrap the tape again, this time wrapping the tape 2 inches wider. You can leave one side untucked. Here you can place the newspaper and finish your last wrap around the tires.

Step 3: Paint away (approximately 30 minutes)

Follow the instructions on the can for any type of paint job. To get a great result, it is important to have the part and can at the right temperature.

You should apply at least two light coats. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes between each one.

Avoid drips by staying at least a foot away. Spraying from every angle possible is the hardest part.

Final result of the front wheel with a clean, unpainted rim

Next, I wait for 24 hours before removing the masking tape. This is because the paint has not dried completely. This is helpful if the paint drips halfway between the mask and the part.

You can lift paint off the tape by using a knife. Push it back so that the paint is still soft.

The same applies to paint that you don’t want. If it isn’t completely cured, it can be easily removed with acetone and an abrasive rag, particularly on smooth or polished surfaces.

There were a few small triangles that I didn’t cover on the rim, but it was easy to get rid of since the paint hadn’t set.

It is a lot of work, but I only had to do it for a morning. I was pleased with the results the next day, so I got rid of all my masking material.

The wheels are now like new after a quick polishing!


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