What is Ceramic coating and does it work on motorcycles?

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Does ceramic coating work on motorcycles?

Ceramic coating isn’t new, the term has been around for years, and the process itself has been around even longer. Ceramic coatings are liquid compounds which are applied to paintwork fill in microscopic surface irregularities. This leaves a smooth and even surface which is perfect to the eye. This new ceramic coating forms a solid transparent barrier protecting the paint underneath. This makes preparing the paintwork properly with a full correction necessary because any blemishes will be seen through the ceramic layer.

This new ceramic coating is hydrophobic, meaning it will repel water due to the surface finish being immaculate and allows nowhere for the water to pool. Videos on the internet show buckets of muddy water being thrown over the bonnet of cars and the mucky substance beads off. See above for a video.

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An alternative to ceramic coating is waxing, which does a similar process. It fills in surface imperfections preventing water and dirt pooling, forcing it to bead off the surface. Due to the chemical nature of a ceramic coating, it will have a longer lifespan than a comparative wax-based finish.

Is ceramic coating better than waxing?

On the other hand, waxing leaves a soft coating, and with every rainstorm or wash, the residual amount of wax on the surface lowers. This isn’t necessarily a problem, and a wax treatment can easily be topped back up again by re-waxing every few weeks. A ceramic coating is hard and bonded to the paint, therefore treatments can last anywhere from twelve months to four years.

ceramic coating bead
Water beading after a ceramic coating

Not just providing protection from water and dirt, Ceramic coatings can reduce damage to paint from UV light sources. For example, UV rays can dull paint and cause yellowing with some lacquers, particularly with parts such as carbon fibre.

How ceramic coating works – Image from avalonking.com

Keeping hard to clean areas, clean!

Applying the coating to hard to keep clean areas like wheels can make pesky brake dust and chain lube removal easy. Ceramic coating exposed metal areas like exterior fasteners and brake banjo bolts prevent them from corroding and having a ‘Furry’ look. 

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With the ceramic coating of motorbikes, surface preparation is critical as the coat has a glass-like finish. Any imperfections in the paintwork will show through the protective layer. This effect works well if the standard paintwork has metal flake or glitter finish.

Autobrite ceramic coating
Autobrite 5 year ceramic coating

 Many ceramic coating manufacturers will supply ‘Trade only’, meaning only approved detailers with essential knowledge on how to correct paint will be provided with the product. By keeping it trade only the bike owner gets a professional level job with the bike looking better than when it left the factory and protection that should last many years.

Can you buy ceramic coatings?

If you are buying your own product to DIY ceramic coat, be careful of internet sites. Inferior products will typically be resin-based or ‘infused’ and won’t have the same quality or working life as a professional product. Stick to trusted names and brands providing a quality product. The cost usually DOES make a difference! When picking a professional detailer, itss is worth checking that they are using professional products, not a poor quality infused type.

Autobrite lite ceramic coating
Autobrite lite coating

There are some downsides and myths to ceramic coating. The surface being treated has to be perfect and free from scratches, scuffs, waxes and any other contaminants. This can mean that the bike will need the paint correcting and at the very least a degreasing rinse. This paint correction is time-consuming and because of this, it can be costly from a professional detailer.

Does ceramic coating prevent scratches?

There is also the common misconception that a ceramic coating will provide complete paint protection. A ceramic coat will protect from microscopic scratches and possibly bug strikes. It won’t protect against stone chips or somebody with intent to scratch your pride and joy.

With advancements in technologies and materials, ceramic coatings can now be applied easily. The key to ceramic is even, uniform coverage, and one company are offering a ceramic coating inside a snowfoam. A snowfoam lance has adequate pressure to apply the ceramic, however, care needs to be taken not to get the coating on areas less desirable like tyres and braking surfaces.

Ceramic coating before and after – Taylor-made Detailing

The coating is not maintenance-free. Having your bike ceramic coated will cut down the amount of washing needed and the amount of polishing and waxing after a wash. This does not replace the need to wash your bike so if you hate cleaning your bike it’s not going to rid that chore. Frequent washing is still required to clean deposits from the surface. This is only a maintenance wash as opposed to a full wash, polish and wax every time.

Can a ceramic coating be applied over stickers?

Providing the sticker or wrap is clean and tidy, applying a ceramic coating over the top will create no issues. Much the same as if you have the paint protection kits (Second skin Etc) a ceramic coating can be added over the top of these too.

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Is ceramic coating worth it?

That all depends on your situation, bike and personal circumstances. It’s not magical protection from everything. It’s also not a magic treatment that will add thousands of pounds back onto the price of your bike. It may help preserve a bikes paintwork, and this may, in turn, keeps the bikes residual value slightly higher. If you have a workhorse bike which does many miles, a ceramic coating can make it quicker to wash.

2018 Yamaha R1
Maybe I should give the R1 some love.

The overall paint quality and finish of brand new bikes can sometimes be pretty poor, even if the bike is brand new. It is worth having the time spent getting it looking perfect before ceramic coating the motorcycle. The same can be said for used bike except these are even more time consuming to get everything looking perfect. Ballpark detailing time can be around 20 hours to complete but this makes the bike look better than when it left the factory.

Chances are a used bike looked great in the showroom, but imperfections can be hidden with sprays packed with silicone. Overall it pays, in the long run, to have the job done correctly, by a professional.

How much does ceramic coating cost?

Autobrites new Ceramic shield range comes with either 3 years or 5-year protection. The three-year coating has an RRP of £65, and the five-year package has an RRP of £95. The latter of which should only be applied by people who have used ceramics frequently due to the preparation and application process.

Thanks to Nige from Taylor-Made detailing and to Autobrite UK for the photos.