I'm based in Oxford and I have a classic Triumph steel cruising bike. I am a complete amateur when it comes to paintwork and I wanted to ask the community here a few quick questions if possible.

The pictures I have attached are probably the most useful but I will explain what I think is going on with the bike too. There is lots of patchy paint loss dotted all over the bike with exposed steel that I would like to protect and repaint if needed.

My main question is... What are my options to try and prolong the life of this frame? I ideally want to preserve the Triumph logos too.

Many thanks,

James enter image description here enter image description here

  • 1
    You need to sand down to bare metal to deal with rust. Painting over the top will not stop the rust. Store it in shelter (dry) is the best way to prevent / slow down rust. That bike is a long way from rusted out.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 18:56
  • 3
    If all you're worried about is rust, dab the rusty spots with a "rust-converting primer". This goes on gray and turns black in contact with rust. (The rust is chemically converted to a diamond-hard substance.) Then, if you wish, lightly spray the whole thing with rattle-can paint. Mask off the fittings and any logos you wish to preserve before spraying. Will not look brand new, but a little better. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 12:23

3 Answers 3


You could try to rub down the affected areas trying to keep to the smallest possible area. Then touch the area up with a rust inhibiting paint. Then go over that with as close a matching paint colour as the bike. Just take it slow and careful. You should mask off all the surrounding parts of the bike before starting to paint as well. I'd start with the least visible rust spot. You might need to go over all this a few times to get it right. Oh and what about trying this out on an old bike you don't mind getting it wrong on?


Steel requires rust proofing. Just like on you car, there is a thin layer of primer under the top color. When scratched to the base metal, sanding and painting the affected area is necessary.

Sand until the exposed metal is shiny. Depending on the spot, you can use a high grit paper, or wet sand paper with water. You might want to start with 200-300 grit and then maybe 400 or 600. You're working with a small area so you don't want to press hard when sanding.

A good technique to make sanding with paper easier is to fold it a few times to get into tight areas. Folding gives you a stiffer sheet edge and you can work it in crevices. Also wrap an inch or two of paper around a woodend dowel, or even a pencil. A round shape will help you sand the long vertical scratch on the fork without having to sand the whole width of the fork surface. The round shape will only touch the suface in a long thin area instead of a wide area.

Wet sand paper is usually less than a dollar at most hardware stores when bought by the sheet instead of the pack. You shouldn't need more than a sheet or two of each grit. Wet paper last a lot longer than dry. It can also be cleaned/washed.

Use a high percentage alcohol to degrease and remove dust after sanding. Dry thoroughly if wet sanding before using the alcohol.

Then prime, even if it's just dab priming. Allow the primer to dry thouroughly and lightly sand the primer back to where the original paint just shows around the wound. You can also use a high number wet sand paper with water to lightly sand. Look for a paint match at an auto parts store. Dab the paint on primed areas and let dry. Wet sand with high grit paper to match the original finish. Treat the paint like a regular car. Small amounts of paint polish will give you a good shiny finish with little work. Apply wax and enjoy. Paint like yours should last a long time.

1) Rough sand with shaped paper to get the rust off down to the metal.

2) Wet sand for a finer surface finish.

3) Dry, then degrease with alcohol.

4) Paint with primer.

5) Sand the primer and lightly dust with lint free cloth(cotton ball or pad) and alcohol.

6) Apply matched paint.

7) Wet sand with fine paper.

8) Wash, then polish and wax to shine.

9) Enjoy for years to come.


If you have only small areas to deal with as the image shows, I would suggest first to clean the rust with a soft metal sponge (see image below) and than cover the paint-less metal spots with transparent nail polish.

Like this, you can keep the original color and the vintage look, but kept protected from corrosion. Google for post like this.

enter image description here

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