I am asking specifics in a few posts so as to not get into discussions. Consider this a continuation of bike quality for the price. I find the paint job on my bike to be nice but very thin and fragile. It scratches very easily. When I was a kid you would need to use a jack-knife to scratch the paint. I know there is the rationale that paint weighs and so to eliminate weight they spray the paint on as thinly as possible. Even the rubbery plastic of my U-lock scuffs it.

  • 2
    Based on single example and gut feeling, I would argue the other way. I have an Italian road frame from the 1980s that looks nice but gets scratches from everything. My newer Italian frame does much better.
    – ojs
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 11:27
  • 1
    Today lots of high quality bicycle frames are powder coated which is a very durable type of paint/coat. I have a Focus Mares cyclocross bike which, after years of (ab)use doesn’t have a single visible scratch or scuff.
    – Michael
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


Price. A combo undercoat/primer, a top coat, and a lacquer/transparent would be the norm.

In the 80s, a nice bike might have had 10 very thin spray coats with multiple clear coats on top, most of which were over the decals/transfers. This represents a lot more work, time, and materials.

In addition, the older bikes would have been steel, whereas the newer bikes are possibly aluminium now which doesn't hold paint as well, due to microscopic differences in how the paint keys into the surface.

  • 4
    On the other hand steel (especially cheap steel) needs better paint to protect it from rust, so you can get away with a cheaper paint job on aluminium.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 9:03
  • 2
    Also, many paints and solvents used back in the day would not pass today's regulations. It's far cheaper to powdercoat than to properly protect workers and dispose of waste.
    – ojs
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 11:21

I really think it depends on the quality of the bike you buy. Back in the 80's most bikes were of good quality. Today, you can pay more and buy a bike of good quality or spend less and get...what you pay for. That's the kind of world we live in right now. But that being said, there are still some less expensive bikes that have durable paint and durable parts. You just have to do the research and stay on the lookout for a sweet deal.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.