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Why bike paint fades in the sunlight and should you repaint it yourself

We all get careless with our bikes from time to time and leave our bikes in the sun for a sun bath sometimes you might even leave it in the shade and the paint goes away anyway because one part of the bike was still in the sun.

I wanted to write this article for the awareness of general things like

  • why bikes paint fades in the sunlight
  • Which colors fade the fastest
  • why you shouldn’t rush to paint it yourself
  • How to properly store your bike in a way that its paint and other parts like tires don’t get affected by the sun
  • Would paint polish be useful against paint fades

Why bike paint fades in sunlight :

I think some people will already have the basic idea of why the paint fades but for those of us who don’t know exactly why it fades here dive into why the bike paint fades in the sunlight.

The paint contains pigments that are responsible for colors not just in the paint but everything you see around yourself has pigments the method by which they are attached to each other can be different but they are almost in everything, so these paint pigments have chromophore that is mainly responsible for the specific colors to appear.

and when enough amount of sunlight strikes those chromophores it causes the pigment molecules to break and essentially the color will turn white or fade away altogether.

And the areas of your bike that are more open to the sunlight will be the ones that will lose paint or color faster.

Also if you are storing your bike outside its not directly in the sunlight but it is absorbing quite a bit of heat that can also lead to paint loss as well, extreme heat causes the components in the paint to lose their primary substances like water and it can cause the consistency or the density of the paint to lower and causing it to fade.

Now that you know why the bike paint fades in sunlight let’s get into something that you will be more interested in.

Which colors faint the faster :

Everything said above there are colors that fade faster than the other ones, normally lighter colors fade take longer to fade and darker colors usually fade much faster it is due to the fact that light colors usually reflect more light than they absorb and dark colors absorb more light than they reflect that makes them more prone to fading.

Here’s a ranking of colors fading based on the fastest to slowest.

  1. Red (fastest to fade)
  2. violet
  3. indigo
  4. orange
  5. green
  6. yellow
  7. blue
  8. black

Typically as I said the color doesn’t fade it’s the pigments that are the main component that decides whether or not a color will fade faster if the quality of the pigments is higher the paint will take longer to fade and the paint prices are based on that as well.

But for cyclists road bikers or mountain bikers it can prove to be an extremely resourceful full source because if you can’t afford to park your bikes inside for whatever reason you can always choose a color that takes longer to fade though I really don’t think that will solve your problem since as I mentioned it’s just not the color that fades on your bike there are a lot of other things like tires seat post and other components that you should be more careful about as well.

How long it will take for the bike color to fade if you left it outside :

Generally it won’t take much for the bike color to fade if you left it outside in the sunlight and depending on which color your bike is it can take one to two week or even days till you start noticing the color fading on your bike.

Generally no matter the color, you would notice your bike color fading in a week or two, and depending on the color it can take longer or shorter, red is the fastest to fade and black is the slowest to fade and in case you put a cover on it may slow down the process but it will not solve the problem

As i mentioned earlier as well some people think that covering the bike will solve the problem but it makes the problem worse because you have plastic components on your bike as well and if you try saving paint the heat will get to paint and as well as the other parts.

I did a very thorough article on what will happen to your bike tires if you leave your bike outside in sun

Be sure to check that article as well because it will just shed more light on why you shouldn’t cover your bike and leave it outside.

Another thing that you should be vary off is do not start painting your bike if you see it faded just a bit here’s why.

Why you shouldn’t paint your bike if you see it fade :

Before you start painting your bike when its faded you shouldn’t here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t do that.

  1. If your paint fading is unusual you might be able to use your warranty from your company (if so and you painted it or got it painted they might not accept it if you did it if not then maybe you can get that specific part or your bike changed)
  2. I would advise against painting the your bike yourself

There are alot of the times when the manufacturers are in a rush and they might not have done a good of a job that they were supposed to or that the paint quality was not high enough but if you take things in your hand you might waste that opportunity here’s why.

Alot of mountain bike or road bike brands or other expensive bike brands have a 1 year warranty life span of the bike parts but there are conditions attached to their warranty as well and the conditions are usually like.

“if you dont mess with the parts yourself or the mechanic there’s a good chance we might replace it”

This is what giant bicycle says about their bikes paint and parts

Limited Warranty. Paint finish and all other original components, and all repair parts, replace­ment parts, and accessories, are warranted to be free from defects in material or workmanship for a period of one (1) year from the original date of purchase. Any repaired or replaced part will remain subject to the warranty for the remaining portion of the original warranty term, but will have no warranty coverage whatsoever beyond expiration of such original warranty term.  This limited warranty shall automatically expire on the one (1) year anniversary of the date of purchase. source

and this is what trek says about their bikes

2 Years
Parts and accessories
Rear suspension linkage components, including bearings, rocker link, and accompanying hardware and components
Bontrager wheels with alloy rims
Paint and decals. source

This is what i meant when i said that you should not tamper with the paint on your bikes because there is a good chance if you bought your bike from a reputable brand they might take care of it.

Now i can’t be 100% sure if this will work but its worth a shot and if your products in way turned out to be bad (which can happen in rare cases) you can ask your brand about it or the dealer ship through which you bought your bike in the first place.

And the other reason that i asked you not to paint your bike yourself would be because buying paint and slapping it on your bike is fairly easy but if you dont know if you don’t paint it the right the the paint will create clots that will be visible from far i dont think anyone would like that even you.

The best option would be to take it to a professional and get the job done it may cost more but it would be still better than what i think we would do with our bikes, and to be exact.

A custom paint job on a bike would cost you around 200-300 $ for the hole bike but for some parts of the it may cost you alot less than that, but its still not a good idea painting it yourself because you will creat clots of paint because of excessive paint and that wo’nt be pretty.

And in most cases you bike will not need a whole lot of painting normally some parts of the bike are more faded than the other ones and i think it would cost you alot less if the are 2 or three posts which actually need a paint job.

All in all its up to you to decide in the end but i would still advice against painting your bike yourself.

and another thing that most people think is a best idea it kind of is and isn’t at the same time.

Is car polish be good for bikes paint fading problem :

No car paint polish won’t do anything for the faded paint all it usually does is that it would just make it more shiny and if the faded area is not too big it will shift around a bit of paint from around that spot but it wouldn’t be a  fix if you have got hige portions of paint strips or paint fades.

The better options would be as i discussed above to get it done from a professional or check the other option if you can maybe return those parts to the company if you have the warranty left for it.

How to store your bike properly :

Storing your bike outside is a bad idea whether there is sun rain or any kind of weather it is because all of the elements like humidity, heat, air and everything will effect your bike in some way or the other and storing it with a cover on it outside is not a good idea as well again you are just enhancing those problems heat and humidity rather than reducing them the results would be the same.

If you cant store your bike inside than make a shed out of the bike cover and store it under that or even store it in some shade under a tree or where ever you can and also remember to quickly check if your tires are inflated or not because deflated tires get affected by heat and humidity much more than inflated tires.

I did a complete article on leaving your tires inflated or defaleted when storing your bike that as well if you had like to check that article out as well.

Conclusion :

Wahtever you do always make sure that you at least leave your bike in shade if you are storing it inside great but if you cant do it for some reason than at least store your bike outise where the sun light can’t reach it and its not just the paint that gets affected its all your bike parts.