How I created custom decals for my KTM Duke

KTM Duke Custom Decals

As a designer by profession, I had a constant creative urge to change the looks of my KTM Duke 125.

While the stock Duke looked great, I wanted to make mine really stand out from the crowd. It’s a design thing, we always want to look different from other people.

At first, I just thought of buying the a KTM aftermarket decal set, but none of the designs appealed to me, so what does a designer do? He makes his own!

I got my inspiration from KTM’s road racing heritage, specifically the RC8R – not only was it a great performing bike, it looked awesome as well.

This is how I created custom decals for my KTM Duke.

Making decal templates

I started by making the decal templates first.

This consisted of overlapping many pieces of scotch tape over the tank cover until it was fully covered.  To prevent the tape from sticking to the tank, I sprayed some soapy water on the tank before laying the tape on it.  This also let me adjust the position of the tape if I needed to.   This is a great video I followed on sticker application.

After I covered the tank with tape, I used a marker to trace out the outline of my decal. Then I slowly peeled off the mask and stuck it on white paper.  I then use a scissors to cut out along the outline until I had the shape I wanted (on paper).

Paper Templates

Paper Templates

I did the same thing for the upper back fairing and the lower spoiler as well.

After that, I used a photo copier to scan all the templates and transfer the images into my computer.  Important note: Measure the length or width of your decal templates before you throw them away.  When you scan and transfer them to your computer, this will let you easily re-size them back to a 1-1 scale.

Once the scans were on my computer, I used Adobe Illustrator to create decal blanks.

Digitized decal templates

Digitized decal templates

Designing the decals

With the blanks created, I got down to the fun stuff – designing my custom decals!

I collected a lot of KTM bike images – ranging from the entire KTM Duke family (125, 390, 690) to the top of the line machines, the RC8R and even the 1190R ‘The Beast’.   I put these into inspiration boards to guide my process as I started designing.

KTM MoodBoard

KTM MoodBoard

After a few rounds of refinement, I narrowed down to a design that I liked.  I had two versions – an orange and a white design, but ended up printing only the orange one.  (Stay tuned for the white pics later!)

KTM Duke Custom Decals

KTM Duke Custom Decals

Printing the decals

Before you take the decal to print, I strongly suggest you print them out on paper first.  Why?

This is so that you can check to see if the size is correct, and if your lines flow correctly.  I made the mistake of not doing this and ended up printing my decals THREE times before I got it correct.  This wasted a lot of money.

Several tries before getting it right!

Several tries before getting it right!

When the size was confirmed correct, I sent them for printing.

While it’s possible to go to consumer (i.e. paper sticker printing) shops and request for water proof stickers, it is much better to print at shops that specialize in automotive or motorbike decals.

They use a higher quality vinyl that is more softer, thinner and more easily applied.  The colours are also more vibrant when printed on this better vinyl.  They also offer cutting out the stickers using precision die-cut machines; these will give you professional looking cut stickers.  Of course, they are more expensive, but it’s worth it!

MOST IMPORTANT POINT – The softer vinyl material lets you stick the decals over your bike WITHOUT needing to remove your existing stickers.  This is great when you’re tired of the look, simply tear off and bring your old look back!

Decal application

To apply the stickers, use the same method I showed you to create the templates – spray on soapy water, apply sticker, move into position.

When in position, use a credit card (or any soft plastic with straight edge) to remove any air bubble trapped underneath.  You may need to lift the decal a couple of times.  This take some practice, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time.  Just keep at it.

If there is still soapy water under the sticker, your decal may peel off or start to curl upwards.  Don’t worry, just using the credit card to scrap it lightly until the water is removed.  You will see that the decal will start to stick to the bike.

After you’re done, wipe your bike down with a dry towel, and put in in the open to dry for about two hours.

You’re now ready to ride your new look bike!

KTM Duke 125 Custom Decals

KTM Duke 125 Custom Decals

Check out the full gallery of pictures here.

Want to get free high res pics whenever I give my bike a new look? Stay in touch here!

8 Random Questions: XiaoLi Lin

XiaoLi Lin

XiaoLi – A psychologist who rides a KTM

Who:  Xiao Li Lin  |  Rides : KTM Duke 125

Lin is one of the few female motorcyclists I know, but that aside, she is also one of the most interesting people I’ve met.

After all, she is a qualified coaching psychologist specialising in the field of relationships.  She also scuba dives, runs, belly dances, enjoys food and wine, loves touring countries on a motorcycle and cooks mean Cantonese cuisine.  Oh and she finds time from all that activity to spend lots of time with her family and loved ones as well.

You would think doing all the above requires 48 hours in a day or phenomenal organisational skills, but despite her busy schedule, she managed to take time out to answer KTM Mad’s 8 Random Questions on Motorcycling and Life.

We are privileged, so here we go.

Where is the coolest place you’ve ever been on a bike?

I can’t choose really. My partner and I have ridden to really interesting places both far and near – as far as South New Zealand and the Izu Peninsular of Japan, as nearby as the hawker centre down the road.  We enjoy every ride because the same route is different every time: the weather, the time of the day, the people we meet and the topics we talk about.

We enjoy the camaraderie of the biking community, total strangers saying safe riding to us. But most of all, we enjoy the way him and I look out for each other on and off the road.

Riding in NZ

She’s toured NZ on a bike!

What bike are you currently riding? Tell us about it.

I am currently riding a KTM Duke 125.

I was initially thinking of a Yamaha TW 200 (love the big back tire) but my partner who was riding a Derbi Terra Adventure at the time, brought me to his dealer to check out some bikes.  We saw the new KTM Duke 125 there,  loved it and bought it.

It is a great bike –  very light, looks good (love the hidden exhaust), handles great and has a unique engine sound! My partner likes to say that I am spoilt to have had such a good bike as a beginner and that I should be toughened up riding a beat-up bike first but I think he’s just jealous. ;)

KTM Duke 125

Xiao Li rides a KTM Duke

Which of the 6 emotions do you think is most important for mankind and why? Surprise, fear, happiness, sadness, anger and disgust.

I can’t help but look at it from a academic point of view – it’s an occupation hazard.   All emotions are vital, they are, in essence, sending a message to us so we can react accordingly.

Surprise tells us to be alert as things are different;  we are out of our routine and should be careful. Fear tells us something bad might happen.

Happiness itself is not an emotion, it is a word overused and so muddy that everyone has their own definition, so let’s just temporarily call it the sum of positive emotions, which includes things that broaden our emotional bank account like interest, joy, gratitude and love.

Sadness tells us we have lost something precious while anger tells us something is unfair and finally disgust tells us something is potentially poisonous and we should steer away from it.

All emotions are neutral, it is what we choose to do with them that matters.

Just by looking at the six emotions in the question, only one is positive, that tells us a whole lot about our evolutionary makeup – by default we focus on the negative because it is a matter of fight or flight, negative emotions have a much bigger an impact on us than the positive ones.

I want to share a little about motorbiking and happiness from a female perspective (Stop me from rambling, now!!). Motorbiking is a lifestyle choice, when out on a bike,  we can’t choose the weather, control the traffic nor other road users’ behaviours, we can only control how we choose to feel about it.

Similarly, happiness is also a choice, we can decide how we feel about anything: no one can make me feel anything without our consent.  Visit my blog if you are interested in happiness, positive emotions and relationships!

If could have any bike in the word, what would you buy and why?

Not in any order, I really love all these bikes.  The Triumph Bonneville for its history and classy looks.  The Triumph Speed Triple because it’s sporty and aggressive - a natural continuation from my current KTM duke 125.

The  BMW GS 800 for my adventure dreams (and also easier to handle than the 1200).  The Ducati Monster 696: love the red, (Do I need any particular reason to love a Ducati?)

Finally, a Vespa because it’s great for city riding, has lots of storage, and I can be girly and wear skirt while riding it.

Ducati Monster 696

Who doesn’t like a Ducati Monster?

What is your hidden talent?

I’m a belly dancer. (Haven’t made it out of the living room, yet though:)

What is your piece of must-have motorcycle gear when you ride?

My jacket. I currently wear the Stella by Alpine Stars. It has CE 2 shoulder and elbow padding, fits me brilliantly and has a subtle dark blue color with a reflective strip at the back.  I like it because it doesn’t shout out the brand with huge logos written all over.

In a tropical Singapore though, it heats up under the sun pretty quickly because of the dark color and the non breathable material traps sweat.

Time and time again, my partner and I lament that motorcycle gear for tropical riders have been a second thought for manufacturers. We have a huge combined market, and we deserve to be protected while enjoying our ride, too. We hope one day we are proved wrong and we really do hope that day comes soon.

AlpineStars Stella Siren

AlpineStars Stella Siren – hot for Singapore

Describe the most significant thing that happened to you in the past 7 days.

My partner and I announced our engagement to our families and we spent a great Chinese New Year visiting relatives and friends in China. It feels great that everyone gets along so well, and we can’t wait to start the new chapter of our lives.

Complete the sentence: when I am riding, I enjoy the ride.

Lin & Partner

Congratulations guys! :)

Comments and feedback below as usual, thanks for reading!

KTM Mad’s 8 Random Questions on Motorcycling and Life

KTM Mad's 8 Random Questions on Motorcycling and Life

After starting this blog to write about all things related to motorcycling – KTM bikes, learnings on design/engineering and various DIY projects – I began to meet lots of people who were frankly, pretty damn interesting.

They are ‘ordinary’ people like you and I, but who have managed (between working, studying or having a family) to accomplish things that are ‘a little extraordinary’ and more importantly, who love to ride their motorcycles as well.

I thought it would be great to let you meet them as well, so I started a new segment where I ask them to give me their thoughts to random things on my mind – I’ve called KTM Mad’s 8 Random Questions on Motorcycling and Life.

Pretty original eh? Ha ha.

So if you’ve got an interesting story to share, reach out and lets talk! :)  Comments and feedback below as usual.