Graphic Design & Biking

Over the years, my website and sales, from art prints to motorcycle graphics has changed dramatically! I have you to thank you that!

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Motorcycle Decal Fitting Instructions

Thank you for purchasing these decals. Occasionally, during transit, especially if subject to temperature differences, the backing paper comes away from the adhesive surface (or bubbles away when unrolled). This is perfectly normal and won’t affect the product. Avoid touching the adhesive surface and if required, gentle heat during the application process will revive the stickiness.

Here are a few instructions to help with the application on to your aluminium pannier cases, tank or bodywork decals. The same technique for application is very similar for each set of stickers, regardless of location on the bike. Whilst there is no need to remove the latches on the boxes, they are only secured with 4 self taping screws (on the inside). Removing the latches does provide a smoother, easier surface to apply to. The latches are replaced over the top to negate trimming and give a much more professional finish. Don’t over tighten the screws when replacing, they are self tapers and can strip the threads. Go easy and you’ll be fine! If you own BMW black boxes, the coating retains an element of ‘oil’; please ensure that they are thoroughly clean and totally degreased.

The ‘Mactac Bubble-Free’ stickers can be applied to boxes over a light spray of water with a drop of washing up liquid (use one of those plant sprayer bottles perhaps). Water will aid with positioning the stickers and will allow them to slide into position. Please note, use of water is NOT recommended for use on conformable vinyl, this is a more flexible material often used on Vario boxes and complex surfaces and is usually marked on the order.  Apply conformable vinyl decals using dry application ONLY. If in doublt, please don’t hesitate to drop me a message asking.  

Personally, I prefer to apply all decals ‘dry’. True, water allows easier positioning, however, go easy with the water and try to contain it to the top surfaces; the reason being that when positioning around the tie down bars and rivets, the material does not immediately stick as well (as you would expect) and it’s difficult to finish off properly and to ‘mould it’ around the rivets until the material and the box has properly dried.  A hair dryer or heat gun will help, but be careful not too over heat and distort the vinyl. I allow about an hour and a half to two hours to complete each box. Be patient and take your time! If you tackle wallpapering, you’ll cope fine! :)

1. Please ensure that all cases are perfectly clean and free from grease before application of the stickers. Wash boxes thoroughly with warm water and washing up liquid.  For best results, wipe with alcohol or methylated spirit. If you have removed stickers and are left with a sticky glue layer, 'Zep Commercial Sticky Stuff Remover' is invaluable. For degreasing I use 'Isopropyl Alcohol 99.9% for Cleaning, both are inexpensive and available from Amazon (in the UK at least!). Use of protective gloves is also recommended when using these chemicals.

2. If you have ordered side panniers, please apply the base pieces first, before fitting the sides as the sides pieces fit over the top edges of the base pieces, helping to keep everything weather-tight

3. With the backing paper still in place on the stickers, offer each piece up to it’s respective box to check for fit. For the side pieces, line up the top edge of the decal with the top of the aluminium surface, butting up under the trim/seal for the lid. I mark with a pencil, the centre of the decal, with a corresponding mark on the trim of the box. Please note that the cut for left and right boxes may well be different to allow for the exhaust. Slight gaps of a couple of millimetres are often found and are normal, boxes are constructed with small tolerances in the position of box-furniture. Trimming might be required in places using a sharp craft knife. A fresh blade will give the cleanest cut

4. Carefully and slowly peel back the backing paper from one end of the sticker, roughly to the middle (the middle-front is a good place to start as you can position around the clamps and ensure that the sticker lines up along the top edge). Some customers have removed the clasps prior to fitting; simple to remove the four holding screws for each one from inside the boxes. It does give a cleaner finish.
Cut the backing paper off leaving half in place (fig.1), still on the reverse of the sticker, cut a strip, roughly 10mm wide off the end of the backing paper that you’ve just removed (from the cut end). Once this is done, line the backing paper up with the print, (be careful to replace it shiny side down again or it will stick to the self adhesive surface of the sticker). With the backing paper reapplied you will have a sticker with backing paper in place, but an unprotected, sticky gutter down the middle (fig.2). Carefully reposition the sticker from the edges, ensuring that it is both straight and positioned correctly on the box. Once you’re happy, gently smooth down the ‘gutter’ in the centre and the sticker will be held in the correct place (fig.3). You are then able to lift one half and start peeling the backing paper back, slowly, smoothing the sticker carefully with your hand or squeegee (a credit card works too (fig.4). Once the first half is applied, do the same with the other half! Take your time and carefully apply the sticker to the box, avoiding any twists and creases in the material, gentle coaxing rather than stretching is the approach to take.  Any slight overlap can be trimmed once the sticker is completed. The material is bubble free, it allows the air bubbles out, but consider smoothing the material down, gently, using a squeegee or hand, easing any bubbles out as you go (fig. 5). Don’t press too hard until you are sure that you have the sticker fitting correctly, a small distance can be peeled back, but with caution, better to ensure that positioning is correct before applying pressure!

5. Once the sticker has been applied, gently ‘polish’ the surface with a dry, clean soft cloth, ensuring that all edges and corners are rubbed down - the edge of a squeegee can help with this (fig.6). Ensure that the material is pushed into any shallow embossing (BMW logo on standard fit GSA boxes) and around rivets. Gentle thumb pressure should be sufficient, but consider gentle use of a heat gun or hair dryer to warm the material and aid stretch if required, but do not get the material too hot as it might distort and crease. Gentle use of a 9mm socket or squeegee edge on the warmed material ensures nice, tidy fit around the external rivet heads, but don’t be too heavy with pressure or you might scratch the surface of the print

6. Any overlap can be carefully trimmed using a sharp craft knife

7. With stickers attached, dirty panniers can be washed along with the rest of the bike using clean water. Use of cleaning products and abrasive brushes is not recommended as this could damage and reduce the life of your stickers, causing them to fade or become scratched. They should last for many years and will protect the surface of the boxes from corrosion for easy replacement when you feel like a change of design!

We love to see photographs of your completed bikes. Please look us up on Facebook or Instagram (@markansteyprints) or send your pictures to If you are able to leave a review in the ‘review’ section of Facebook/Insta, I really would appreciate it. If you have any queries or would like to know more about having unique, bespoke stickers made for your panniers, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Your decals should give you many years of enjoyment and give your motorcycle the personal touch you hoped for. Happy wrapping and happy riding!

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