Snider's Paintgard™ Vinyl Film
Motorcycle paint is like a magnet for bugs,
road grime and dirt. That noxious mixture is bad enough,
but factor in harsh Cordura or leather clothing, tank
bags, bungee cords and motorcycle boots and it's
surprising that the paint lasts more than a single
This problem is exacerbated on adventure-touring
bikes, because they frequently see more dirt and dust
than sportbikes or cruisers.
Automotive and motorcycle paint technology has come a
long, long way in the past few decades, and the common
use of thick clearcoats has been an enormous help in making
finishes last much longer than ever before.
Maybe some day we'll get a
diamond-like coating that makes paint scratchproof and
eternally shiny, but in the meantime, motorcycle paint
can use some help, especially in the areas most prone to
Whenever we acquire a new motorcycle, one of the first things
it gets is a treatment with paint protection film. We've been
using 3M's Scotchcal with good results, but Snider's
Products sent us over some of their "Paintgard" paint
protection film to try on our "new" '98 Tiger.
What's the difference? We discovered that there
are enough differences between the two paint protection
systems to warrant another article.
While both products seem to be nearly identical, Scotchcal
is 0.37 mm thick, it has an
adhesive backing and it is a semi-permanent paint
protection film. It's relatively easy to remove by
peeling it off, but it can't be used again.
Compared to the Paintgard paint protection film,
Scotchcal is, in our opinion, trickier to install,
because the adhesive can set up as the film is being
installed, making it hard to remove the air pockets that
form underneath the film.
However, once the air pockets and bubbles are worked
out from under the Scotchcal, the adhesive helps to keep
the film in place right up to the edges. Although
it takes longer to work the Scotchcal paint protection
film on to curved surfaces, once the air pockets are
removed, the product becomes just about invisible.
1: We use standard 8.5x11 printer
paper to trace the patterns on the
motorcycle. Scissors, a ruler, a razor
knife (X-Acto shown here) and ball-point pen
(works best to trace lines on the vinyl) are
the only tools necessary.
2: It seems harder to remove all of
the air bubbles from under the Paintgard.
The edges don't stick as well as Scotchcal,
probably due to the absence of adhesive.
However, these really aren't noticeable
unless inspected up close.
3: A piece of Scotchcal was installed
on the rear of the fuel tank to protect it
from chafing under the seat.
Paintgard was used on the sides of the tank
to protect it from chafing by the rider's
knees. Both are barely visible.
Paintgard paint protection film is 0.19 mm thick and
it clings to the
painted surface without adhesive. We're guessing
it works by either static electricity or some other
scientific property that's beyond our limited grasp of
Physics. The 11" by 14" sheets of clear film are
placed on a paper backing for shipping purposes.
Since Paintgard has no adhesive, the pattern can be
traced directly on the paper backing without having to
worry about a left or right side.
Scotchcal can only be applied in one direction;
(i.e., only one side has the adhesive and must be
applied to the painted surface), it must
be cut in a mirror image when applying it, for example,
to both sides of the fuel tank or both sides of the
The thinner Paintgard film is more flexible and
easier to cut with scissors or a razor knife. We
use plain computer printer paper to trace the desired
pattern on the motorcycle, then transfer it to the film.
The mounting instructions for both products are similar
-- first clean the surface (we use rubbing alcohol to
remove old polish or wax), then spray with a mixture of
water, alcohol and a drop or two of dishwashing liquid,
and slide the film into place.
Working with the Paintgard is very easy, because it
can be peeled off and re-positioned without having to
worry about any adhesive setting up.
It does slide
around more easily than Scotchcal when applying it,
which can be an advantage. But it's easy to move
it out of position with the squeegee (used to remove the
air bubbles), although this isn't really a problem because
the Paintgard is so easy to re-apply.
The Paintgard doesn't seem to grip as tightly at
the edges, especially in areas with a compound
curvature. See Photo 2. It works better if it's kept on a flat
surface, slightly offset from the edge of a curve, like
at the bottom edge of a fuel tank.
As the Paintgard is being applied, the air bubbles
are removed using a squeegee or credit card. We
noticed that more air pockets seem to remain under the
Paintgard than the Scotchcal film, probably because of
the Scotchcal's adhesive backing.
Snider's says that one of the advantages of
Paintgard is the ability to peel it off and reuse it.
We're not sure how often this will be necessary -- once
we install paint protection film on any of our
motorcycles, it stays on for good. But perhaps
this feature would be useful for show bikes or antique
motorcycles, where the paint protection film could
protect the bike during a ride but can easily be removed
to return the bike to original condition.
We were concerned that the Paintgard wouldn't stay
in place during the rigors of riding, but we've had no
problems in this regard. It's remained in place
and seems to do a good job of protecting the painted
surfaces on the sides of the Tiger's fuel tank and
batter covers, which get direct contact with the rider's
legs on every ride.
We haven't yet polished the bike with the Paintgard
in place. Normally, we'll simply polish right over
the Scotchcal without worries that it might become
loose. Vinyl paint protection film doesn't shine
up as well as the unprotected painted surface, and the
softer vinyl can become scratched, but that's a small
price to pay for the excellent protection it provides.
It's possible that the Paintgard will move around on
the surface if we try to polish over it, but since it's
so easy to re-apply, this shouldn't be much of a
By the way, Snider's also sells sheets of real carbon
fiber for use as paint protection or as appliqués to
dress up a bike. The product has a very sticky
adhesive backing. We couldn't really find any good
places to use it on either the Tiger or any other
motorcycles we had in the garage, but we'll keep it in
mind for the future.
Overall, we like the Paintgard paint protection system.
Snider's is currently running a sale, and three 11" by
14" sheets cost just $13.50. The product is easier
to apply than Scotchcal, which is a plus for anyone
without practice in using these type of products.
Paintgard also seems to provide just as much protection
as other paint protection systems.
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Review: Paintgard Paint
Protection Clear Vinyl
Retail Price: $13.50 for 3 sheets
|Colors: Clear (Carbon fiber also
Comments: Easy to apply. Flexible. Can be
reused. Protects paint from stone chips, scratches, chafing from
clothing or bungee cords, etc.
More Paint Protection Sources: Eric on
Triumphnet sells pre-cut Scotchcal appliqués for Triumphs; he has bulk
Scotchcal for any other bike, other Scotchcal supplies and very good
instructions on installation; he also ships internationally; I've purchased
from him and was very satisfied with the transaction and his help |
Dallas Motorcycle Accessories
sells "SheerMask" pre-cut kits for the K1200LT, R1100-1150RT and
K1200RS and other bikes; the kit is custom designed to fit the lower fairing
chin guard, gas tank, ignition and gas tank | Tankslapper
also carries a type of paint protection film; they have pre-cut templates for
many bikes | Invinca
Shield also carries protective film with many
kits for motorcycles | Secondary
Exposure Incorporated carries paint protection films also