Motercyles get a graphic makeover from Bikeskinz.
Specializing in performance cycle wraps, Bikeskinz in Charlotte, North Carolina, has carved out a unique market, focusing solely on sport bikes and motorcycles and marketing its offerings nationally through its website, bikeskinz.com. While Bikeskinz was one of the first companies to enter this niche market back in 2004, says lead designer Paul Duffey, there are now quite a few cycle wrappers sharing the road.
“Competition is tough for a nationally marketed company, where sign shops might be competing with a few locals. The key is to do consistently what’s best for the customer. If that costs more, simply explain to them why. You can’t be a price leader and win every quote and be a quality leader at the same time,” Duffey explains.
Bikeskinz caters to a variety of consumer and commercial riders. The company offers predesigned as well as custom-designed wrap kits, and also provides a list of qualified installers so customers can find an installer near their location.
For one particular project, the team output two wraps for a motorcycling couple – clients that had been sourced from its website. The husband-and-wife pair from Philly wanted custom looks for their two-wheeled rides: a 2002 Suzuki Katana and a 2001 Suzuki GSXR600.
“All of our designs are created by us, including both our predesigned kits and customs. None of the artwork is ever purchased or outsourced,” says Duffey. “In this case, the customers wanted something original and selected my existing designs – but had some color modifications done and their riding nicknames added. This is actually pretty common because all of our designs are layered in Photoshop and can be easily mixed and matched.”
“Most people in the sign business love vector software like Adobe Illustrator because it's easily up-scaled and doesn't require a lot of computer horsepower. But for these types of designs, you really need a raster software like Photoshop. With these large-resolution files, you have to bite the bullet and invest in a computer that can edit it in real time. Currently, our main design workstation is an Intel Core i7 970 Processor, with Raid 0 and 24GB of RAM. We also have a couple Wacoms and tablets running Autodesk Sketchbook Designer 2012.”
E-mail proofs were provided to the customers for approval. Then, the graphics were printed with the shop’s HP Designjet L26500 Latex printer onto 3M Controltac IJ180-CV3 using 3M Scotchcal 8518 gloss and 8520 matte overlam for different parts of the bikes. Duffey outsourced the airbrushing of the couple’s helmets to match the look of the cycles.
With output complete, the wraps were installed by local installers listed on the Bikeskinz website. “Installing wraps to motorcycles is way different than vans and cars. You have curves, channels, and grooves like you never get in any other situation. You have to use the torch or heat gun with almost every single inch of the install to get it to stretch or contract to take up slack.”
“There’s also a big challenge in thinking ahead to make sure graphics are lined up and aren’t twisted,” says Duffey. Install times for bikes vary, but usually range from 10 to 15 hours, he says.