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).
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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!
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!
Check out the full gallery of pictures here.
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