Installing new graphics dry


Most people like to get new graphics, but hate to put them on. I, on the other hand love putting on graphics. It truly is an artform. There are a couple different ways to put graphics on, and they each work well when done correctly. I am going to show you the way I put them on. Many people will say that the windex or soapy water trick is the best. This works well to put them on, but I have found that the graphics do not stick as well using this method. The thing that screws most people up is that graphics can be stretched and compressed where needed. This is very useful when you use these properties to your advantage.

After a year of use my old graphics were starting to get a little beat looking, so I decided it was time for some new ones.


It is best to use new plastic, but sometimes it isn't worth replacing your old plastic. Such was the case for me here. First I remove the old graphics by heating them with a heatgun and pulling them off slowly. This way very little glue residue is left on the plastics.


There is still a little glue and dirt left on the plastic after removal of the old graphics. This must all be removed.


I like to use contact cleaner to get the glue off. Be warned, contact cleaner tends to take the shine out of plastic so don't use it where graphics will not cover. I then clean the plastic with rubbing alcohol to get it as clean as possible.


I then hold up the graphic to the plastic to see how everything is going to line up.


I heat up the graphic and the plastic a little with a heat gun before I begin. Keeping the graphic a little warm is the key to working with it. I start from a point that is easy to line everything up, and I keep checking to make sure that the other holes line up. I only peel a little backing at a time and I work with my thumbs primarily from the center out to prevent any bubbles.


As I work my way up the shroud, I keep an eye out for bubbles. If one appears, slowly pull the graphic back as soon as you see the bubble and push it out. I only lay down the graphic on the flat parts of the shroud, I will attend to the curves later.


As you go along towards a hole you can direct the graphic in the direction you want it to go. This is done by pulling on one side and pushing out any wrinkles on the opposite side. For example if the graphic is starting to go too far towards the top of the shoud, I will try to stretch the top and compress the bottom to steer it back down. This is much easier with a warm graphic.

Once all the flat parts are layed out, heat up the curves and begin to push them down from the center out.


Most people end up with wrinkles at the top front corner of the shroud. This is where working and compressing the graphic is key. The only way to perfect it is with practice. Never allow a wrinkle to fold over onto itself so that two sticky sides touch. This is almost impossible to fix once it happens. Always push any creases out flat as they form from the point out towards the edge of the graphic.

When you are done heat the entire graphic while pressing on it. Heat and pressure at the key to getting graphics to stick. As you heat you may notice a couple small bubbles appearing. This is because the air in the bubble expands making it bigger as you heat it. You can poke it with a pin and then push the air out while it is warm. If you can, poke the pin on a border where two colors meet, this makes the mark invisible. If you can't it is no big deal because the mark will be absolutely tiny (much better than having a bubble).


It is best if you can hit the graphics with some heat and pressure every couple hours for a day or two before riding. Remember, it takes over 24 hours for graphic glue to bond, and the longer heat and pressure is applied during bonding, the stronger the bond will be.

If you do everything right, it will be wrinkle and bubble free like mine:


If you want your old dingy seat cover to be bright again, hit it with some windex and scrub it with a toothbrush, then wipe it off. This always works for me to get back that original brightness without making it slippery.


And now you are all done. Now you can sit back and admire your work for a minute. Good luck, and take your time.

User Feedback

There are no comments to display.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Reply with:

  • Similar Content

    • By JFjeld
      Looking at various graphic kits to fit my 2008 KTM 300XCW and came across the Attack Graphics Flight Complete Kit from Rocky Mountain ATV.  Does anyone have this kit installed on their KTM?  Could you provide pics and let me know how the kit was to install, and how it has held up?
    • By Whopharded
      Wanted to offer up a tkread with my most recent personal experience in designing and ordering my own personal graphics for my 2008 CRF-450R.  When I google'd, my top find was .   The web site UI is quite enticing.  It offers themes, pre-defined graphics that you can modify or create your own completely.  I chose the later based on a super senior +55 template.
      The graphics engine allows you to paste in shapes, logos from a broad set of libraries or you can upload your own graphics or type in your own text and manipulate an assortment of colors.  You can also shrink or zoom graphics as well as rotate any 360deg.  In the beginning you tell the program what your make and model is and it is supposed to set you up with a dye cut baseline matching your OEM plastics.
      I spent many days editing since each time I went in, I found something that needed fixing whether alignment or colors.  I had to play around with the dye cut selection as well because many clearly did not match my plastic.  My order was around $70 USD.  I opted for front and rear fenders, L&R swing arm, L&R air box and front # plate.  Not bad but when you start putting on side # plates and shrouds you can get your purchase up over $200 real quick.
      I waited long enough that I guess the company was afraid I wasn't going to close the deal and they sent to my email a 10% discount and a free upgrade to thickness.  Too bad I placed my order only a couple days too early. :-/  Delivery was very quick, especially after I found out the product ships from US to Ireland.  The package came in about 8 days, certified so you will have to sign or pick up from the PO.
      Came out with a couple of issues which I am addressing with them which I'm sure they will fix since they extend 100% satisfaction guarantee.   Responses take 24 hrs since we are across the pond from each other.
      #1 front fender, two of the lightening bolts colored 'aluminum' were supposed to be identical but the left one show there is some color bleed. As shown
      #2 rear fender, dye cut not a clear match for my OEM fender (yes the Honda plastic came black from the factory) As shown.  Granted would not have been a problem but 1st, I put a border around the edges and 2nd, I put graphics accents to far out of the edges.  Had I not done either of those things I could have just trimmed the decal with scissors and just been done with it.  So lesson learned: Don't put on a border and don't put graphics within 3/4" from any edge.
      My overall take is fair only because of the 100% satisfaction guarantee but you can avoid some issues if you are mindful of #2 mentioned above.   Oh and feel to give fret over the rear fender graphics.  Sometimes we have to surrender in some ways to get to do the fun things we want with a lot less headaches.  So yeah, I guess you could say my wife sponsors me. LOL

    • By bkevinmar

      The graphics on my exhaust side number plate keep melting off where the header and the muffler meet… I tried moving the heat shield that was included in the plastics over a little bit but nothing seems to work does anyone have any suggestions?
    • By Denim
      New DRZ 400SM owner.  Just starting w it....
      Any suggestions on how to safely &easily remove the factory stickers? Tank & plastics.
      Can anyone point to some info on a good quality wrap material?, & how to?
    • By dkelley42
      Hello all,
      I recently picked up a 1997 KTM 250 EXC and the graphics on it are a little scratched and faded and I am in the process of looking for new ones. However, I have not been very successful as the ones I have found are not to my taste. I am really looking to get a Red Bull or Jagermeister set if possible, and I am willing to pay up to $150 for a set that actually fits my bike. If anybody has an advice on where to search, that would be awesome.
      Thank you all in advance!