There are many reasons why you might want to know the paint code for your motorcycle. Perhaps, you want to repaint the whole motorcycle or just touch up one section of it. Maybe, you are just curious and want to know what it is.
How do you find the paint code for your motorcycle? To get the paint code you need to know the correct name of the paint given by the manufacturer. Then using that name you can search for the paint code by using online VIN decoders, contacting your local automotive paint supply store, searching online forums, and as a last resort you can try to contact the manufacturer.
Why are paint codes important? The truth is that there are thousands of different shades of paint out there. While you may know that your bike is grey, you may find that there are actually hundreds of different shades and variations of grey available.
Where/How To Find Paint Code
If you are wanting to exactly match the paint that is on your motorcycle, it will be extremely difficult to find a paint that matches from just searching through general shades of grey. Each manufacturer comes up with their own unique paints that they sometimes use across all models, a single motorcycle, or several models. That is why paint codes were created.
These allow for you to know exactly what color of paint that you need to exactly match your stock paint. That way, if you wanted to just repaint one section of your bike or touch up one part, you do not have to worry about the paints being slightly different colors.
Likewise, if you are repainting your motorcycle entirely and want to preserve the original color, you likely will not be happy with the results of just buying a paint that seems to be close to what you need. Even slight differences in the paint can result in a very different overall appearance.
That is why it’s so important that you find out the paint code for your motorcycle before ever trying to get paint for it. Doing this will make sure that you get exactly the right color every time.
So where can you actually find the paint code? Finding the paint code for your motorcycle can be much harder than on a car. While newer cars generally have a sticker that says exactly what the paint code is on it, motorcycles do not have this. In the hundreds of motorcycles that I have worked on I have never seen a paint code anywhere on the motorcycle itself.
In the extremely rare occasion that a manufacturer does put the paint code on their motorcycles, they will have it placed somewhere where it will not be seen super easily. The idea behind this is to not ruin the look of the bike with a sticker somewhere where everyone can see it.
These hidden paint codes can often be put underneath the seat or underneath the tank. This way it cannot be seen while riding or while parked but it can be checked by removing those components. These paint codes can also be hidden on the frame in various locations.
If your motorcycle does not have a physical paint code indicator on it or if you just cannot seem to find yours, it will always be easiest to get the code from searching online forums. For example, search for “1975 CB500T black paint code” and read through the various forums. Once you see a recurring answer then you can be confident that you have found the right code.
Trying to get this information directly from the motorcycle manufacturer is going to take you hours trying to explain over the phone to someone from customer service in a different country. Calling the manufacturer should be your last resort, but if you’ve exhausted all the other options listed in the second paragraph above then the manufacturer is your last hope.
Online forums and your local automotive paint supply store are going to be your best and fastest options.
How Can I Match My Color If Paint Code Is Not Available?
If you have exhausted all the methods stated above and cannot find a paint code then your best option is to take the tank off your motorcycle (make sure it doesn’t have any fuel in it) and take it to your local automotive paint supply store. Paint supply stores have an infrared tool that can create a color code that matches the current color of your tank perfectly.
Just for reference though, I have never had to do this. Of all the motorcycles I’ve ever painted I’ve never had to get a color match from a paint supply store, I’ve always been able to find the paint code by searching forums online.
The only instance in which I can see you needing to get a color match from the paint store is if you have an incredibly rare or a pre-1950’s motorcycle that not many others have.
If you’re going to repaint the whole motorcycle and aren’t worried about keeping it exactly original then you don’t need the paint code, just pick whatever shade of that color you like the best.
Some online paint supply stores have a filtering option where you put in the year and model of your motorcycle and it tells you all the specific paint codes, but I would be wary of these. The saying “trust but verify” comes to mind. If several sites say the same code then you’re probably safe.
If you are restoring an older motorcycle and you want to repaint just a section of the motorcycle I would advise in getting the whole thing repainted. Painting one component is going to make all the other panels look faded (because they are).
Where Do I Go To Find The Paint My Motorcycle Needs?
If you are wanting to paint your motorcycle, where can you actually get the paint from? The truth is that there are tons of different places that you can find the paint for your motorcycle. If you are looking for the most bang for your buck, it is best to shop around all of the different resources that we will talk about until you find the best deal.
The first place that you can check is local automotive paint shops. These shops are a great resource for someone trying to paint their motorcycle. They also can get you any other paint supplies that you need including sandpaper, primer, clear coat, rust inhibitors, etc. These local shops are a great resource in answering questions about how to paint your motorcycle.
Your next resource is online. There are tons of websites out there that are dedicated to selling paint. They often allow you to look up paint by paint code or by the year, make, and model of your bike. This is one tool that you can take advantage of if you do not know your paint code as well.
As all of these websites are easily accessible online, you can easily compare the pricing and lead time of the parts. It is also worth looking at reviews to see how happy others have been with the paint that they purchased through them.
Your last resource would be from the manufacturer itself. Oftentimes, this can be the most expensive route, but it also guarantees that you do not accidentally get the wrong paint. As previously mentioned, there are lots of different options and it is always a good idea to shop around. Buy from whoever is best for you in your situation.
Can I Paint My Motorcycle Tank And/Or Frame Myself?
So, once you get the matching paint, is painting your motorcycle something that you can do yourself? The answer is that you can do it yourself fairly easily. While many people may be afraid of painting their motorcycle as they feel like they would do an unprofessional job, the truth is that you can actually learn to do this yourself fairly easily. Taking your motorcycle to a professional is always an option if you ever feel uncomfortable about this process as well.
If you want to paint your motorcycle, the most important step is prepping the surface for the paint. This will guarantee that the paint sticks well to the surface and that it lasts a long time. The first step to prepping the surface is removing the existing paint down to a certain point. You do not need to expose the bare metal if the paint itself is still in decent shape.
Once you have sanded the surface, you are now ready to apply primer to the area. When you have applied a nice even coat of primer and allowed for that to dry, you are ready to wet sand and then start painting.
Be sure to apply the paint as evenly as possible. Be aware that you may have to use several coats of paint in order to make sure that it covers the primer entirely and that it looks as it should. Once your paint has dried and you are done adding coats, you are then ready to apply clear coat. This will help seal and protect your paint to make it last longer.
We have other entire articles that go in depth about the whole process of painting, just use the serach bar at the top of this page and search for “paint”.
And if you have other questions you can’t seem to find the answer to then follow me on Instagram and send me a direct message @moab.kyle