When you buy a new bike from any motorcycle manufacturer it often comes with some unwanted extras, the government mandated stickers and reflectors. Even the most expensive Harley-Davidson custom CVO comes out of Milwaukee with these things stuck to them. This article will show you how to remove most of them, and if you are careful, not damage your motorcycle’s paint in the process. Disclaimer: I do not know how legal it is, or is not to remove these items, so, I can only suggest how to remove them. Personally, I view them as something like mattress tags, have you ever seen the mattress tag police? No? Me either.
Something else that I like to do, and you might want to as well, is to remove the manufacturer’s badging from your motorcycle. I think it helps the bike look more custom, sometimes the badges are just ugly, and they look better in the trash can than they do on the bike. Since removing the badging is part of the agenda for Little Red Riding Vic, I’ll cover how to remove those as well.
Sometimes a manufacturer will place some sort of sticker bragging about a feature the bike has, like this ABS sticker. I guess this is ok, but where is the one on the left side? It’s not there, so in the interest of symmetry, bye, bye, mister sticker!
Most new motorcycles have a warning sticker similar to this on the gas tank. It usually has some advice about wearing a helmet, reading the owner’s manual, obeying traffic laws, blah, blah, blah, blah. Unless it has been clear coated over, it will come right off. You will want to look closely before you start to make sure the manufacturer has not painted the clear coat over the sticker. Let me mention at this point, that if you have an older bike with these stickers, they can be removed too. But, you must keep in mind they may be harder to remove, your paint could have possibly faded, and when the sticker or badge is removed, it will leave a “footprint” where the paint underneath didn’t fade.
The first step is to lift the edge of the sticker up a bit. If you have a little bit of a fingernail you can get the edge up with just that, but don’t try to peel it off yet. The next step is to get a clean cloth loaded with rubbing alcohol and soak the exposed glue on the sticker. I have had it suggested to me that I try 3M brand adhesive remover, I guess If I had a big job like removing body stripes, I might give it a go. But, for the small stuff, the alcohol works fine.
In a few minutes you will be able to peel the sticker back, dab more alcohol on the newly exposed edge of the glue. As the alcohol does it’s work, you can slowly peel it back, don’t rush, just keep dabbing more alcohol as you go.
Very often the removed sticker will leave behind a sticky residue, just wipe it off with a soft cloth soaked in alcohol. Do not use a paper towel, the fiber in the towel is coarser than you think, you could scratch your paint. In this case, it took some doing to get all the residue off, that was some tenacious glue! The ABS sticker came off much easier, I guess the adhesive on it was not as strong. After your stickers are removed, I suggest you thoroughly clean the areas where they were, you can never tell how the alcohol or adhesive remover might affect your paint. You should always be careful about leaving anything on your paint for any length of time. For a quick clean I use either Mother’s, or Meguiar’s detail spray, both are good.
Removing badges is very similar to removing stickers, but the starting technique is different, for this, you will need some dental floss.
Most badges are held in place by an adhesive backed foam, I haven’t seen screws used in years. The strength of the adhesive varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so the degree of difficulty may vary. Start by lightly pulling your dental floss under the badge, try to get it between the body surface and the foam, go easy, you are just wanting to get a start. Once you have it a little under the foam, use an alcohol soaked cloth to drip alcohol into the gap you have created. Give it a few minutes to work, than ease the floss forward, then drip more alcohol, as you go you will get more gap to put the alcohol in. Don’t be tempted at any time to pull the badge off until you are very close to the end. Be careful as the badge comes off, some of the metal ones have sharp edges and can scratch your paint. After you are done, follow the same procedure of removing the remaining adhesive, then throughly clean the area.
Modern motorcycles all come with the DOT mandated reflectors at the front and rear of the bike, these can be removed using the same method as the badges.
They typically have a similar type of soft foam backing with adhesive as the badges. Sometimes they are recessed into the bodywork, often not, just make sure you can live with the appearance of the area if it is. In this case all of the reflectors were surface mounted, so I was good to go.
The front reflector put up a bit of a fight, I had to work to get the dental floss started. I even had to wait longer on the alcohol to work.
When I did get the reflector off, it left behind some of the backing and glue. It took a substantial amount of alcohol and rubbing to get it off, but in the end it was worth it.
I think removing these little plastic bits improves the overall appearance of a motorcycle. Here are some shots of the bike without the badging, stickers, and reflectors.
I think it looks much better without the stickers and reflectors. Getting rid of the badging on the tank will make way for the pin striping I am planning for later.
Next in the series: Adding a tachometer to my Victory Cross Roads.
Words By: Terry Cavender
6 thoughts on “Little Red Riding Vic Part Two”
I have removed my warning decals off of my tank but now have a ridge were the decals sat. How do I get rid off this ridge,do I buff or light sand?
So you have a ridge? Sanding would be a last resort, so let’s try some other things first. Before I can give you much advise, I need to ask some questions so I know what your situation is exactly. Is this a Victory? If not, what brand? How old is the bike? When you removed the sticker and the underlying glue, was the finish of the surface glossy like the rest of the tank? Or, was it a matte finish? Our approach to solving your problem depends on the answers you give.
Hi, my bike is an older bike, 79. I’m sure if I remove the stickers there will be a footprint. Can I place a new, larger one over top of, with or without removing the old sticker?
There may, or may not be a footprint, it all depends on your paint. There is less of a chance with something like solid black fading. Red, on the other hand, will fade to an almost pink in some cases. If you were going to place a second sticker anyway, I would go for it, but in the end, it’s your choice to make the attempt or not. Just take the removal process slowly, it’s only been there a few decades! LOL!
First off I wanna say I found this site by reading about Rhonda’s Shadow Aero project, Very Cool. Second the peeling and pull method is a very simple and common sense solution, which has been proven to work countless times I’m sure but I’ve heard of something different, which might be better. Using a hairdryer I was able to easily and quickly (but not too quickly) pull off the tag on my gas tank without any residue.
Heat the tag back and forth going over it slowly for about 30 sec, then pull up a corner, heat pull, heat pull etc… till it comes off with little to no residue. I have a 09 Honda Shadow spirit VT750C2 and this worked perfectly for me. Also thanks Terry for your contribution to the two wheel community.
Thanks so much Anthony! I do what I can. Yes, I have heard the hair drier works, but for some of us there might be a problem, what if you are single and lacking hair like myself?? There’s nothing sadder than a single bald man with a hair drier! LOL!
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