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There are already a number of answers regarding ways to fix small scratches in bodywork, but I'm not sure of the exact "nature" of the damage to the fairing of my motorbike: It's not my bike, though I am considering it to buy because it is otherwise in good condition and has a good price:

Damaged fairing Photo of entire motorcycle with scratch highlighted

The discolored bits are noticeable by touch, and so it does seem to be some sort of scratch, but they are not deep (or at least not deep to a layperson like myself-- perhaps they really are "deep" scratches in terms of bodywork?); What are my options for fixing this as cheaply as possible?-- would getting matching paint from Honda themselves not be ridiculously expensive?

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    Is that a plastic panel? (Can we see an image of the entire bike so we can put the panel in context?) It almost sounds like this will be your first motorcycle. If that is the case, wait six months before attempting a fix. (Hint: everybody drops it at least once...) And anything can be fixed, just send money. (or time + effort + little bit of $$) – zipzit Jun 11 '16 at 16:12
  • @zipzit, I added an extra photo so you can see where it is on the bike. – errantlinguist Jun 11 '16 at 16:26
  • Well, you can clean it up, bondo it, and paint it with touchup paint, but it'll likely end up looking even worse. Personally, I'd leave it alone. Looks like plastic, so you don't have to worry about rust. AND like zipzit says, you'd feel really bad if you fixed it and then dropped it on that side. :-) My bike as scratches down both sides from previous owners dropping it. 3 years in and I'm still leaving it. Someday I'll probably drop it too. :-) – Brian Knoblauch Jun 11 '16 at 17:13
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So it certainly looks like that is an injection molded plastic piece. Its probably ABS, but it could be anything. The good news is that it doesn't look like it will get much movement in that area. You could do sheet metal style bondo (polyester resin) fix, sand and repaint repair. This isn't always wise on parts that have to remain flexible (e.g. a front or rear fascia on a car.. too much flexibility there, the bondo will crack right off.)

Like Brian Knoblach mentions, its VERY difficult to do this sort of repair and make things look mint perfect. Injection molded plastic has this weird characteristic. The outer skin of plastic is smooth and hard. Once you break thru a thin layer of the outer skin, the inner material is not so dense. It doesn't sand well at all. Makes a mess. I have seen some high tech tooling guys use palm sander tools that keep the area being sanded frozen (so its very hard and rigid, but I always that was crazy for most of us.) You can fill with bondo, sand, fill with bondo sand and eventually make it look nice but you need to be way patient. Generally you will want to repaint the entire part. Its hard to blend unless you have a distinctive character line in the shape to handle tape off. In this case that deep valley that runs left to right above the amber marker lamp offers a great opportunity (the one that just touches the lower left of your red box in the photo above). You will also have to account for clear coat paint in your repair, including decals under clear coat. (Using that valley above should preclude a decal issue here... I'm quite sure that Honda decal is under clear coat.)

That really is a nice bike; I really like the rear storage bins. Good luck with it. Stay safe.

Edit, in response to the comment I suppose this means the answer to my question is "No, there's not a cheap way to fix it". Oh, no, not necessarily for repairing damage on a vehicle. The equation for you is Time + Energy + a little bit of money will start to get this totally done. Money necessary for sandpaper, bondo. The real problem is matching the paint. That looks like a metal flake plus clear coat. Which means it has to be sprayed. No way around that. And the paint store has $$ minimums for custom matched paint.

If it were a flat color you'd have a shot at doing the thin and foam roll it on a la $50 paint job. I really hate spraying paint. The overspray goes everywhere. You really have to wear a mask, and not a cheap mask at that. You need a clean place to work... I just hate that hassle.

Er.. wait just a minute. What's the $50 paint job? you ask. Good question! This is the $50 car paint job. I love that posting. Basically you use commonly available enamel paint, thin it way thin, and roll it on with a small foam roller. Apply 10 or 12 coats, and it looks awesome. The real problem with paint is getting the stuff to dry through and through. Putting in on in super thin coats helps with that. The issue is, this technique really only works with solid colors, no metal flake allowed.

So you could redo the entire bike in a totally different color cheaper then you could spray the small portion you need in metal flake. But such is life. And in fact, it is often the case that when somebody takes a hard spill on a full faired bike, it re-emerges in a new solid enamel color. All black seems to be popular.

  • I suppose this means the answer to my question is "No, there's not a cheap way to fix it". Thanks for the info. – errantlinguist Jun 11 '16 at 23:16
  • @errantlinguist Sorry 'bout that... but do check my edit above. – zipzit Jun 11 '16 at 23:45

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