Regardless of what time of the year it may be, or what the weather may be doing, motorcycle enthusiasts around the globe are eagerly waiting for the chance to head out for a quick spin. To hell with the fact that it’s nearly freezing out, and that straight-line winds strong enough to send Martin Scorsese’s eyebrows aflutter are ripping through town. Precipitation is nowhere to be seen, and the open road is calling.
But Earth’s elements aren’t the only thing bringing forth great danger. The highways and byways we traverse every day offer peril as well, and we’re not just talking about fucked-up drivers and potholes of impending doom. Bike safety goes well beyond keeping a cool head while behind the handlebars, or slapping a helmet atop your skull. It also extends to the machines we own.
For millions of bikers, protecting the longevity of the piece of machinery that they pilot is just as important as their own personal safety. In recent years, a record number of bike owners have begun turning toward nano ceramic coatings, a product that offers unrivaled paint and surface protection. However, there’s still a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about what this stuff does, and why it should be used on two-wheeled vehicles.
So suit-up, grab your helmet, and don’t forget to hit the latrine one last time, because we’re about to take a trip to ceramic town, and your bike is what’s going to get us there.
What in the Hell is a Nano Ceramic Coating?
Every week we get hit a with a wide array of questions pertaining to ceramic coatings that slap the bolt right on the head, and today we’ll be answering quite a few of them. So let’s kick things off with a brief explanation of what nano-technology ceramic coating is, and why it matters so damn much, before getting into some of the more bike-specific discussions.
Contrary to what all of the social media “experts” say, ceramic coatings are not derived from unicorn tears, nor are they otherworldly liquids brought to earth by sentient beings, and blessed by a bunch of stoned wizards in Bora Bora. This magical concoction is a man-made concoction that relies heavily upon two of earth’s most abundant resources: Science and sand.
As previously mentioned, the primary ingredient in a bona fide, 9H-rated ceramic coating is silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), a refined form of quartz-rich sand, which should make-up no less than 80% of the contents of the product’s genetic structure. You don’t want too much of this stuff either though, so a good rule of wrench here is to keep that oceanside silt under 85%.
As for the remaining goodies on the list, they often include ingredients like titanium dioxide (nano TiO2), activated fluorine, silicon brightening particles, polysilazane, triethanolamine, and water. Regarding the topic of health risks, as long as you aren’t brushing your teeth with this concoction, there is little danger from ceramic coating ingredients. So be smart, put on your gloves, and where a mask and eyewear if you feel so inclined.
Quick Nerd Note: The term “nano-technology” refers to the implementation of millions of micrococci particles to achieve a common bond, or coating. These nano-tech particles are so tiny, that even the average microscope will have issues detecting them. Their miniscule size allows these little particles to fill-in cracks and rough spots on hard surfaces, which explains why a fully cured, properly applied ceramic coating will both look and feel smoother than glass.
Why Ceramic Coating Rules at Protecting Bike Surfaces
Now that we’ve “nerded” all over you, it’s time to focus on the benefits associated with this magical elixir. It doesn’t matter if you ride a 2,147cc V-Twin hog of a Harley, or a 50cc two-stroke turd of scooter, ceramic coatings protect bikes with wild abandon, and here’s how.
One of the many perks to nano-technology infused ceramic coatings is their ability to provide a protective layer for pretty much any hard surface they encounter, and that includes motorized machines rocking two wheels. From fairings and forks, to seat rails and exhaust pipes, if it’s a firm surface, chances are this stuff will protect it, and here’s how.
Straight out of the bottle, ceramic coatings appear all the world like just any other watery, transparent liquid substance. But when allowed to cure for a full 48 hours, all of those nano-technology particles we mentioned earlier form an invisible, web-like matrix. This creates a virtually impenetrable “force-field,” with extremely high resistance levels to pretty much anything with a moderate pH rating.
Naturally, this has made ceramic coatings a popular topical application in both the automotive and manufacturing sector. Crystal clear and super strong, a fully cured ceramic coating is the equivalent of affixing a transparent exoskeleton to the outside of your automobile, or in today’s case, motorbike.
Rock hard, like Ron Jeremy in the 1970s, nano-tech ceramic coatings offer unrivaled protection against UV rays, H20, road grime, superficial scratches, minor impacts, chemicals, heat, swirl marks, bird shit, tree sap, both acid and plastic rain, pollen, snot rockets, dirt, mineral-rich water, graffiti, and more. Nano-tech ceramic coatings also have the ability to displace water in rapid fashion, thanks to harnessing a “lotus effect” style hydrophobic property, which forces liquid to roll off faster than a lanky kid on a big wheel.
Quick Tip: When properly applied and tended to, a quality ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX will last for years, and protect surfaces from all of the aforementioned unpleasantness and more. But beware. Sealants, polymers, and high pH car wash shampoos that are often labeled as “waterless washes” are forever eager to gobble-up a ceramic coating, so be sure to always use an ultra-low pH shampoo and steer clear of those unnecessary topical polymer sealants.
How Ceramic Coating is Different for Motorcycle Owners
While nano ceramic coatings can coat pretty much any mode of transportation, including boats, planes, pogo sticks, skateboards, and your average garage-built supercar, motorcycles and scooters offer their own unique opportunities.
First of all, because many bike owners opt to keep their mode of transportation parked outdoors, oftentimes in unsheltered areas, the risks associated with even a stationary motorbike remain substantial. The protection provided by a ceramic coating helps cut down on much of this “inactive depreciation.” Protection from paint fade and peeling due to sun exposure, as well as water spotting from acid and plastic rain are all negated, as are most light scratches caused by wind-blown tree branches and trash.
High-grade ceramic coatings are also safe to use on many high temp surfaces as long as they don’t exceed a sustained temperature of 440° Fahrenheit (226° Celsius). So things like exhaust pipes, brake caliper faces, hubs, and exposed engine components can all be coated and protected.
Helmets and various other protective gear with hard surface structures are fair game as well. There is also a growing interest within the bike community in the ceramic coating of video recording equipment. Electronic recording devices, like action cameras, and the protective cases that envelope them benefit immensely from a ceramic coating’s protective properties. Rain and mist bead-up and roll away, scratches on lenses and their transparent cases are no longer of worry, and the risk of cracking the plastic casing of the camera itself is greatly reduced.
Quick Nerd Note: In order to procure the appropriate nano-tech coating, one must first understand the fundamental function of ceramic coating products, and the significance of scratch resistance. It is imperative that you always use a ceramic coating with a hardness rating of 9H, as this is the strongest certified scratch resistance rating that can be given to surface protectants. Anything less than 9H will not provide your bike with adequate protection. In contrast, anything more is likely going to be snake oil in a bottle, for there is no such thing as a 10H scratch resistance rating.
Motorcycle and Scooter Parts That Should Never Be Ceramic Coated
For millions of humans, zipping around on two wheels (or one, if you’re into the whole risking life and limb thing) is an inexplicable, undeniably liberating experience. But bikes also come with their own risks and considerations, and we’re not just talking about that banana peel or red turtle shell that got thrown at the back of the dune-buggy in front of you.
Granted, a pro ceramic coating install on your two-wheeler will always yield the best protection, because… well… it’s installed by professionals, but the DIY method also has its own merits. However, there’s a huge difference between doing things on your own to save some cash, and royally fucking shit up, and nowhere is this more apparent than when people decide to ceramic coat every surface they see.
There’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about protecting painted plastic surfaces, but coating every square centimeter of a bike is just a waste of resources. Ceramic coatings are a product that has been specifically engineered for application on hard surfaces, so you can skip all of the squishy stuff. From handle grips and pedal pads, to seat cushions, saddlebags, and exposed silicone lines, the list of “no coat” parts on motorcycles is fairly straightforward. Oh, and lets not forget tires. For the love of all that is holy, please don’t ever try to ceramic coat your tires.
Top coating the engine cover itself, or anything straight off the block, like exhaust headers/manifolds is a risky move too. We offer this warning not because the coating can damage anything, but in that it will likely fail prematurely due to exceeding that sustained heat threshold of 440° Fahrenheit (226° Celsius).
And while the potential risks associated with ceramic coating exposed mechanical elements like the bike’s chain drive system remains to be seen, interference with a motorcycle’s heat sinks, radiator, and or intercooler is a bit more of a concern. You want heat to escape, and fresh air to flow over the surface as freely as possible, ergo coating these components with a temp resistant product may prevent the crucial transference of heat from metal surface to air, and visa versa.
Should You Ceramic Coat Your Bike Yourself… or Let a Pro Do It?
So the weather is super shitty, there’s nothing good on Pornhub, and you are left with little to do but tinker with your favorite two-wheeled toy. This would be the prime time for you to break out that bottle of Armor Shield IX ceramic coating that’s been collecting dust on your work bench. While a bit of prep work is typically required prior to installing a layer of 9H rated nano-technology, being that motorcycles and scooters don’t have a shit-ton of surface area, this task will not take nearly as long as say, a big-ass RV.
While a single serving of Armor Shield IX should be enough to provide around a half-dozen bikes with paint protection for about $70, not everyone has the time, energy, or interest in conducting a complete DIY ceramic coating install. We get it. You’re busy, and the process of prepping and nano ceramic coating a motorcycle is not everyone’s cup of caffeine.
So how much does a pro ceramic coating install run for the run-of-the-mill motorbike? While pricing varies depending upon the installer and product used, you can expect to spend anywhere between $200-600 for a complete ceramic coating install for motorcycles, and a bit less for scooters and mopeds. Being that all surfaces must first be meticulously detailed, and all blemishes repaired, the final bill will vary depending upon the amount of elbow grease required, for well-used motorcycles often require more than just a dash of paint correction.
Motorbike Writer, a publication based in Australia, explains that after sending a Ducati to a local install specialist for a professional ceramic pro coating, they were absolutely astonished by the results upon completion. While all of the protective capabilities we previously mentioned definitely made an impression, it was how “…the coating would not turn the Duc’s satin sheen paintwork glossy…” that really struck a spoke, as it caused the bike’s surfaces to “glow” under light. All told, this hydrophobic coating install ran the publication a cool $330, and included all necessary surface prep work and ceramic coating installation procedures.
While hitting the highway in a minty-fresh convertible soft top may be far safer and practical than a bike, the sense of freedom that comes with a two-wheeled mode of transportation is unsurpassable. Ceramic coatings offer these same feelings of freedom, but it’s the freedom of knowing that your bike is being shielded from the elements 24/7 that engulfs you.
This has caused ceramic coatings to quickly become one of the most popular detailing products for motorcycle and scooter riders, and for damn good reason. Whether you undertake the application process yourself, or ask a pro to do it for you, there are some things that are guaranteed, starting with the protection only a 9H-rated level of nano-tech ceramic coating provides.
That said, unless you plan on only riding a few times a year, there is going to be some upkeep that must be conducted in order to keep that ceramic coating functioning at its full potential. Routine washes with a pH-neutral bike or car shampoo is pretty much a must after lengthy trips, or when returning from a mud-covered off-road adventure. Using a ceramic coating “booster” is never a bad idea either, as it keeps the nano-technology’s surface structure loaded with revitalizing molecules.
As for suggested install frequency and all of that jazz, motorbikes tend to have the same longevity rating as automobiles, even though they are typically not operated in colder months. This is because the molecular structure of a ceramic coating is in a constant state of deconstruction, even when it is not being lashed by the elements. That means you should plan a full removal and reinstall every 2 years on routinely ridden bikes, and upwards of 3 to 5 years on motorcycles that are only casually put to use.