Get yourself a fresh razor blade and a hair dryer. (The razor blade needs to be new because an old one won’t slice the vinyl as cleanly and may leave rust on the vinyl.)
First, heat up the air bubble with the hair dryer. This will make the trapped air inside the air bubble expand which is what you want. It will also activate the sticky part of the vinyl and make the graphics more flexible to work with.
After heating the vinyl so it is warm, grab your new razor blade and cut a tiny X shape into the top of the bubble.
The air will rush out of the bubble and the soft vinyl will settle back down on the plastic easily. (The X shaped cut is much better than a pin prick because it will give the vinyl a better chance to lay flat without creasing.)
Use your fingers to push the remaining air out and press the vinyl down. Don’t use any metal tools to do this as you might damage the graphics. Some guys use a credit card but I find that your fingers work the best.
Air bubble solved!
If the Dirt Bike Graphics are Still Freshly Laid.
The above answer is the best way to get air bubbles out of dirt bike graphics IF the vinyl has already been set for some time.
If you have just laid the graphics onto your bike, the better option is to peel the graphics back and try again, working the vinyl slowly back onto the plastic, eliminating air bubbles as you go along.
Use the hairdryer to warm up the vinyl to make it more flexible to work with.
This way you avoid having to cut the vinyl at all.
Saying this though, air bubbles can be formed from the heat of riding as well as spilling fuel on the graphics which can cause gas to form under the vinyl.
In these cases, cutting the vinyl graphics with a razor blade is the best way to go.
Tips to Avoiding Air Bubbles in the First Place.
#1 Firstly, I like to prepare the plastic surfaces properly by removing all dirt and grease from the plastics.
Do this by wiping them down with a clean cloth and some type of alcohol based cleaner such as methylated spirits.
Avoid oil based cleaner here as an oily residue will stop the graphics from setting properly.
Also, if there are any plastic barbs from cuts in the plastic you will want to remove those as well so there is no protruding sharp points that can lift the graphics up once they have been laid.
To do this just use a utility knife to slice the plastic away so it’s smooth with the surface.
#2 Get yourself a fine mist spray bottle and spray the plastic surface down with warm water and light washing detergent.
We do this to make it easy to lift the vinyl graphics back up if we need to.
#3 Heat the graphics up with the hair dryer for a few seconds. This will make it more flexible so it molds around difficult spots a lot better.
#4 Get a buddy to help! Ultimately, having two sets of hands to help is so much better because a second pair of eyes will be able to see any issues that you may not.
#5 Slowly line up the vinyl so it is in line with the plastic and lay the vinyl graphics on as slowly as you can, working out the air bubbles as you go along.
Don’t be afraid if you make a mistake because the detergent spray that you applied earlier will make it easy to lift it off and try again.
#6 Let it dry! Letting it dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight will let the sticky stuff set properly and do its thing.
Direct sunlight may cause air bubbles to form from extreme heat!
#7 Take your time! Even though you are working on a dirt bike, this is not a race! The more careful you are with this job, the better the outcome will be.
The above tips will teach you how to get air bubbles out of dirt bike graphics. Give it a try and let me know how you went in the comments box below. Also if you liked it please like and give it a share on social media.
Title photo courtesy of Rockymountainatvmc
- How to Whip a Dirt Bike. A Beginners Guide to Getting Sideways. - September 23, 2019
- The Best Dirt Bike Tool Kit for Trail Riding [that Won’t Break]. - August 6, 2019
- How to Wash Dirt Bike Pants. 5 Tips for Making them Last Longer [and 5 things to never do]. - August 5, 2019