...this is the kind of stuff I'd post on it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Removing Surly decals

A lot of people complain about the graphics used on most Surly bikes.  You know the ones; the scribbly logo that's supposed to look like it was scrawled on:

Well, I've never really had a problem with the graphics or the logos on my Surly Long Haul Trucker, until I started to notice that they were peeling and chipping away on both the top tube and the down tube:

For some reason, I don't have any aesthetic problems with my homemade election sign mudflap, or my chainstay slapguard made out of old innertubes, or the fact that I keep an old toe strap wrapped around my headtube (you know, just in case I ever need one), but having peeling decals on my bike was more than I could bear.  I can't explain it, especially since it's not like my Surly is any sort of show bike.  It's the bike I use for carrying large amounts of shit, riding in the rain and the muck, camping, touring, and the like.  Regardless, I decided that what was left of the decals had to go.

Since the Surly decals aren't underneath any sort of clear coat, I figured they'd be pretty easy to scrape off with help from a little heat.  I grabbed the hairdryer, a few different credit cards, and some WD-40 and got down to work.  I found that heating a small area for about 30 seconds or so, then moving in and scraping with the credit card worked better than trying to heat and scrape an area at the same time.  Once the decals were scraped off, a quick wipedown with WD-40 took care of all the sticky glue residue that was left behind.  Some people use things like acetone or nail polish remover for removing adhesive, but I find that WD-40 works better, and there's no possibility of it messing up the underlying paint or clear coat.

20 minutes or so later, I was rewarded with a sparkly-clean top tube and downtube:

Aaaaahhhhh, that's much better.



  1. I have sold decals, labels, since 1978 and your process of removing an old decal is an industry standard.

    The manufactures of decals today have many more adhesives available to them such as ultra-removable adhesives. Since decals on such things as bicycles were meant to last for years and not de-laminate from the surface which they were affixed to.

    Doug Bryant

    The Decal Factory - The best decals, signs, labels, posters, stickers and banners in the industry for business and hobby.
    Toll Free - (800) 369-5331

  2. Hey Dylan,

    It was good to (not) meet you at the Spokane bike hang tonight. We were sitting at opposite ends of the table and I had no clue who you were, but my highly-sensitive blogger ears perked up when I overheard you mention 'if I had a bike blog' just before you headed out. Totally cool that you showed up. Now I know why I didn't recognize the bike!

    We spent 10 years in Seattle, so we love getting newz. Or in other words, blog on, bro!

    Great tip on the WD-40, thx.

  3. Hey, thanks for checking out the blog. Sorry I didn't end up meeting everyone at the table that night. I would have stuck around longer, but I had other stuff going on...

    Glad to see that Spokane's got a bike scene happening, with cool people involved in it. Maybe I'll run into you guys again sometime when I'm in the 509.


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  5. Welcome to World's best Bike Stickers! We are an independent print shop based in Tucson, Arizona flower corner wall decal

  6. A while ago I was selling my old bike after buying a new one, so I had to remove all the stickers, because some of them had my name on it - and the new owner would probably not like that. I learned how to remove them on the website of the store, where I bought them: https://bikersstickers.com/en/pages/tips-faq.html . As they said, I tried to heat them up a bit using a blowdrier and it went off almost by itself without damaging the original paint. Just something you can try :) Btw, thanks for the article.