Plastic dip was originally produced for creating a thick, durable, plastic coating, by dipping an item directly into the can. This worked well for coating things like tool handles or anything you wanted to apply a flexible smooth coat of plastic on. Now Plastic Dip is available in an aerosol can in a few different colors, which allows you to coat just about anything with a spray can. Rust-Oleum also offers a similar product called Flex Dip that has a few metallic finishes as well as other common colors. Most of the colors offered will have a flat sheen or matte finish so if you want a gloss look, you’ll have to purchase a clear coat or “glossifier” along with the color.
I choose to use Rust-Oleum Flex-Dip “graphite” to coat my rims. It’s a dark grey metallic and it turned out to be exactly like the color on the cap. Since it’s a metallic color, I was hoping it wouldn’t need a clear coat (also because I’m cheap and it was a dollar less per can). My local hardware store sells it for $7 so I picked up two cans.
Here’s some other things I used to get started
• 6” roll of masking paper
• Small exacto knife
• 1 ½ wide masking tape
• Spray cleaner
• Shop rags
• Contact cleaner
• Compressed air with blow nozzle (not mandatory but it helps)
• Tire lever
Patience is key on this project. It’s going to take about 4 hours to do this right and if you rush it, you probably won’t like the results. Also don’t plan on riding for at least 24 hours so the paint has enough time to cure.
Start off by placing the bike up on a stand to get the wheels off the ground. Next you’ll want to thoroughly clean the rim and the area around each spoke nipple. I like to get in the habit of starting and ending at the valve stem for each step of the process, that way I know when I’ve made a complete pass around. (BTW- This is a great time to check for loose or broken spokes.)
Clean the rims by wiping them down with a good de-greaser like purple clean, followed by a fresh rag and contact cleaner (brake clean) and finally blow off each spoke nipple with compressed air to make sure no moisture is left behind.
Now you can start masking the spokes. I cut several pieces of the 1 1/2” tape about 1” long and stuck them around the tire. Try to wrap each spoke nipple as close to the rim as possible with a tight, even wrap. Go ahead and remove the nuts from the valve stem and the bead lock so you can get a tight wrap on those too.
Next we’re going to slip some masking paper between the tire and rim (I saw someone use business cards for this which seemed like a great idea but I didn’t have hundreds of cards available at the time). Again I started by cutting several 4” long pieces off the roll. Folding the paper in half helps make it stiffer and easier to work in. Start by pushing back in the tire and inserting the folded paper between the rim and tire (you may need to use a tire iron on the rear tire). Follow the tire around slightly over lapping each piece.
Sweet! Looks like we’re ready to paint.
Ok time to read the instructions! The directions say to spray 4 light coats waiting 5 minutes between each or until it no longer looks wet. Then apply a heavier 5th coat. The first coat should be very light and only 50% coverage. No problem, right? I gotta tell ya, I’m not a great painter but this stuff goes down easy, you just have to be careful to go LIGHT on that first coat cause it will run like a river to the sea. Having the wheels off the ground allows you to rotate the wheel while your spraying. This also helps by letting the paint flow on the surface and reduces the chance of runs.
Now while you’re waiting between coats you can start on the back wheel! If you’re like me you may have lost some enthusiasm by now and you might want to say SCREW IT! But hang in there brother, you’re gonna love it when it’s done.
I’ll post a follow up after a few rides to see how it holds up.
If you’ve coated your own wheels, I’d love hear about it. Leave a comment or posts some pics in the forum.
**Update- After a season of riding mostly trails and FS roads the coating started to peal around the bead (no surprise there, right?) It did hold up remarkably well through several pressure washings and rough rides though. I think if I did it over again (on street only wheels) I would use the Plastic Dip product as opposed to the Rustoleum brand. Have a go at and tell us about your results….