MotoMojo: 3M Paint Defender Kit—Protect Your Bike’s Finish and Save Money!

Aug 17, 2014 View Comments by

MotoMojo: 3M Paint Defender Kit—Protect Your Bike's Finish and Save Money!Up until just recently, about the only thing you could do was apply a coat of wax or pay to have a costly clear film applied by a professional detail shop. Those clear plastic films are tricky to install. Even pros have a tough time as lots of prep work is required, and the film must be trimmed, fit, and heat- shrunk perfectly, which makes it an expensive job.

Use a cleaner-degreaser product to thoroughly clean the surfaces to be sprayed.However, 3M’s new clear Paint Defender film can be sprayed on by DIYers and allow you to save money while protecting your bike. Paint Defender comes in spray cans and provides a gloss coating that appears to be an original clear coat. It’s designed to be compatible with all factory finishes found on motorcycles including paint, powder coating, polished metal, and chrome. When it dries, it provides a smooth, high-gloss sheen that may be cleaned and polished.

You can protect gas tanks, fenders, plastic saddlebags, body side panels, fork legs, and any area that may be chafed by tankbags or other soft luggage. Once Paint Defender has dried, you can barely tell it has been sprayed on. If an area such as the aft portion of a gas tank (which is subject to scratches) has been coated, you can see the edge where it was masked off, so make it a clean edge.

After cleaning and before spraying, apply the special wax included in the kit.A 3M Paint Defender kit consists of a 17.5-ounce aerosol can of the spray-on film, a can-holder spray trigger, a small packet of special wax, one large sheet of plastic, and 20 yards of 1-inch blue masking tape. According to 3M, a can should cover 9 to 11 square feet using three coats as recommended. One or two cans should take care of most motorcycles depending on how big an area you want to protect. Kits retail for less than $50; extra Paint Defender cans cost about $25.

Nothing lasts forever, and 3M says Paint Defender should be re-applied after several years for the best appearance. How the motorcycle is used and whether or not it is stored inside or left outdoors most of the time will determine the service life. Since Paint Defender is a new product, there isn’t a lot of data on durability, although 3M is known for high-quality products. When it’s time to remove, it can be peeled off by working from an edge.

Mask off areas that won't be sprayed to prevent overspray.Application
Apply Paint Defender only at ambient temperatures from 65 to 90 degrees. Never apply it in direct sunlight or onto hot surfaces, and do not use it on freshly coated paint or unwaxed surfaces (the included wax allows the film to be peeled off later).

Begin with a very clean and dry motorcycle. Any water trapped behind the trim can run out during film application, so allowing the bike to dry overnight is recommended. Apply Paint Defender in a well-ventilated location but avoid wind or blowing dust.

Using the clear plastic tarp, cover any surfaces that you don’t want spray to get onto, and hold it in place with the included masking tape. Take your time and carefully mask all edges as this will show in the finished results. Use the plastic sheet to shield the bike from overspray as this can be difficult to remove later.

Once the area is masked, apply the supplied wax using a small lint-free cloth, until it is evenly dispersed. Install the spray can trigger, which is especially recommended if you’re doing larger areas.

Now spray on the Paint Defender coating. Apply three even layers in a crosshatch directional pattern during one spray session. Hold the can’s spray nozzle 6 to 10 inches from the surface. I found that about 8 inches worked best. Move steadily to get an even coating thickness without using too little (which will result in a dry appearance) or too much, which may cause a run.

Fork leg with 3M Paint Defender applied, after removal of masking.Practice briefly on a piece of scrap metal or even a soda can before working on your bike. On my first try, I got a run. I wiped off the area with a clean lint-free cloth and started over.

Let the freshly applied coating set for about two to four hours before disturbing it (for example, by removing masking tape). Use the practice scrap material (which was previously sprayed) to test if the coating is dry. This will prevent you from leaving fingerprints in the freshly sprayed finish. When dry, remove the tape and plastic.

After the coating has dried to the touch, speed up the curing process by parking the motorcycle out in the sun for a while. The Paint Defender finish is said to be water resistant in one to four days, which varies depending on temperature and sun exposure.

For more information, including installation videos, go to For printed instructions, see: 3M Paint Defender is sold through, AutoZone stores, and other 

Text and photography: Ken Freund

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