I was looking for some direction, instructions, tips, inspiration, etc. on how to paint a cycle helmet, and really couldn’t find anything worthwhile. Why is that? Who knows.
I recently purchased a 1973 Honda CL175. It’s a pretty fun little bike, but my old Polaris ATV helmet felt pretty out-of-place. I wanted an old school open-face helmet like the old Bell helmets of my youth. I found a great Fulmer helmet, gold sparkle, at Ray Price H-D on sale and I snapped it up.
But it just didn’t seem exactly right yet. Not quite “me” yet. So I decided to put some racing stripes on it. Again, no luck finding any help online, but I’ve been a spray-painter going back to my elementary school model building days, so I decided to just do it myself. And pray that I don’t ruin my brand new, pristine helmet.
I got some 3M thin line tape to use to mask off the racing stripes. I originally planned for some thinner ’60s style stripes, but got on a roll and ended up with something that would have been right at home on the hood of a 1970 Chevelle Super Sport.
Step #1a. The trick is to start with long strips of tape and work on getting a nice, straight center line going from snap to snap. You can peel and adjust as needed, but keep a long strip instead of focusing on a small area. Once you get it right, press down the tape firmly and make sure that there are no wrinkles, breaks or bubbles.
Step #1b. I used some of the blue tape as a guide for stripe thickness. I laid down a strip on either side of my center strip, but that was a bit too narrow, so I added a second strip to each side that 50% overlapped the first piece. That looked about right. I used the thin line tape again to mask off the outside edge of the fat stripe (also the inside edge of the outer (thinner) stripe). This was pretty easy using the blue tape as a guide and again I worked in long strips and focused on getting an even, smooth line. Once I had both sides down, I removed the blue guide tape.
Step #1c. The space between the fat stripes and the thin stripes should match the center space, so I used a piece of thin line as a space guide. Then I added the thin line tape to mask off the outside edge of the thinner stripe in the same manner as mentioned in Step 1b. Once I had the outside edges masked to my liking, I peeled the guide tape. Viola, stripes!
Step #1d. Using regular painters (blue) tape, I masked off everything that I didn’t want painted.
Here is how it looked masked off:
Next, you head over the paint shop, on in my case, five feet away from my work bench on my garage floor. I used the Fulmer box as a stand and put a plastic shopping bag on it so that it didn’t get covered in paint. I also threw down a plastic tarp to protect my basement floor.
Step #2. Pull the trigger! Yep, it’s time to paint. I went to Ace Hardware and browsed their selection of flat black spray paint and decided to go with their house-brand premium lacquer because it promised to dry quickly, leave a hard yet smooth finish, and you didn’t have to re-coat in less than two hours or more than five days. Following the directions, I put down three light, even coats taking care not to put it down too thick and cause runs or ripples.
It looked a little funky after the first coat. Not flat and not black. I figured I may have ruined my helmet, but oh well. Too late for regrets now.Here is how it looked right after applying the first coat:
I applied the coats about 30 minutes apart, and after the third coat, I let it dry for about two hours. Then curiosity got the best of me. I HAD to see how it looked, and how well the masking tape worked.
Step #3. Peel the tape. I peeled the blue stuff first. Success, no errant spray paint. Next I peeled the thin line tape one by one and it came off nice and clean. No bleeding, no issues. It didn’t even leave any residue. That was it. Done and done. Here is the final product:
What do you think? I’m digging it! And the best part, nobody but me has one just like it.