Aftermarket Graphics - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

HOW-TO guide INSTALLING GRAPHICS AND SEAT COVERSAmong the most popular accessory items in the last 10 years have been graphics and seat covers. Originally they offered the ability to customize a bike for less than $150, but lately they have become almost a necessity. Stock graphics are inexpensive and wear out quickly, forcing many of the top companies, such as Ceet, Factory Effex, N-Style and One Industries, to make nearly bulletproof products--graphics that don't instantly disintegrate under the knees of brace wearers or wash off from the force of a simple garden hose.Although graphics look like a no-brainer when it comes to installation, there are some tricks that can save you time and energy. We'll also show you some simple steps to make seat-cover removal and installation painless and wrinkle-freeTo help us with this project, we hooked up with Travis Dowthwait from Factory Effex. We think you will find his experience very beneficial.PAINLESS GRAPHIC INSTALLATION1. Ideally, you should start with new radiator shrouds, but regardless, make sure there is no residue (either old adhesive or oils) on the plastic. If you are starting with used shrouds, the best way to remove the residue left behind by the old graphics is to thoroughly clean the area with contact cleaner, then soap and water. Also note that some people like to install graphics while the parts are on the bike, whereas others prefer to do it with the shrouds off.2. It's a good idea to line up the graphics to see how they fit before you remove the backing paper. Check that they align with all the bolt holes first, then worry about matching up contour lines. Eyeballing the fit will give you a good idea of what to watch out for once you start taking off the backing paper.3. Peel back a small portion of the protective backing and fold it over on itself. We recommend doing this in the most critical area of the shroud, which is usually near the lower bolt holes but varies depending on model.4. With a corner of the adhesive paper pulled back about two inches, line up the graphic and start applying it to the most critical area. Start from the outer edge of that region, then apply firm pressure to ensure it is sticking properly. Use your thumb in small areas and try to work out the bubbles as you go. This is the most important step of the process because it will ensure the graphics look better and last longer. You don't want to lift up the graphic once it's applied; doing so risks damaging the adhesive and deforming the graphics.5. After you are sure the graphic is lined up properly, you can start peeling off the rest of the backing paper; we recommend doing this in two-inch increments, especially if this is your first time installing graphics. The large size of shroud graphics makes it easy for the edges to stick to one another if they are allowed to flop around. If this happens, you can easily ruin the decals.6. Continue to use one hand to apply the graphic while simultaneously working out any and all bubbles.7. Once you have applied half of the decal, it's usually safe to peel off the rest of the backing paper and finish attaching. Remember to make sure the graphics are applied firmly, especially at the edges; that is usually where most graphics lift first when there is a problem.8. For cold conditions, we recommend using a heat gun or a hair dryer to make the adhesive work better. A light heat blast makes the graphics more pliable and allows you to remove some of the air bubbles that may have accidentally been trapped. Start from the center of the graphics with your thumb, slowly working the bubbles to the nearest edge.SIMPLE SEAT-COVER INSTALLATION1. To install a seat cover, you will need a staple gun and 3/16-inch staples. Most people will use a $20 spring-type staple gun, which is fine, but mechanics often use an air staple gun. Both are capable of producing the same results.2. With the seat removed from the bike, you have the option of taking off the old seat cover or leaving it on. If you decide to leave it on, most likely you will need longer staples; that depends on the thickness of the old cover and of your seat base.3. Use a small flat-blade screwdriver to pry up the old staples just a tad.4. You can finish pulling them out with a pair of pliers, either regular or needle-nose.5. It's also a good idea to remove the seat brackets if possible; they tend to get in the way of the installation process.6. Start near the front area of the seat and double-check the cover is right-side out and will fit over your seat foam and base. If you see a problem, stop now and contact the graphics manufacturer to investigate the situation.7. Align the front of the seat cover and start stapling from the center, but don't use too many staples. Apply plenty of pressure to the staple gun so the staples go all the way into the seat. After you have applied the first staple, check that it didn't go all the way through the seat and into an area that will be visible from the outside. You might even want to feel the area to assure yourself the ends of the staples didn't go all the way through the seat base and into an area that will chafe the seat cover from the inside out.8. Smooth out all the wrinkles, then tack down the rear end of the seat. You might need the heat gun or hair dryer to ensure the entire surface is glass-smooth. This is one of the most critical steps because you will never be able to get rid of the wrinkles otherwise.9. Start tacking down the sides of the seat cover. Stretch the cover so it is taut over its entire surface. Be careful not to pull it too far over to one side, especially if it is a seat with graphics. At this point, space the staples about two to three inches apart; that way if you make a mistake, you won't have to remove too many staples. Unlike graphics, you can go back and redo the entire seat providing you didn't put staple holes in an area that can normally be viewed when the seat is on the bike.10. Now start working your way around the seat with more staples. It's also a good idea to continue the use of a heat gun or a hair dryer because the warmer the seat cover, the more it will stretch. Use a utility knife to cut away any material that will interfere when you reinstall the seat brackets.11. Replace the seat brackets and mount the seat on the bike.

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