Reflective paint

I have a motorcycle/sidecar rig that I usually ride at night. It’s almost time to paint it, and I’d like to use a paint that is reflective (like the green signs on the interstate that tell you how many more miles to podunk). Anyone know what this stuff is, and if it will work as an automotive paint? (I imagine it might be similar to what they use on license plates.)


There’s a lot of places that sell stuff similar to what you’re wanting.

Here’s one:

Maybe I can use an ordinary automotive paint with reflective beads?

Most reflective paint is ordinary paint with round glass beads sprinkled on. Light enters each bead, and, after two bounces inside the sphere, it goes right back where it came from.

Yeash! $77.45 for a gallon of paint and 6 pounds of glass beads is outrageous! When I worked for the highway department (up to about 2 years ago) we were paying about $4-5 per gallon for paint that was similar to what they’re selling and just a few bucks per 50-lb bag of beads. I’m sure we were getting some kind of a volume discount, but still…

Traffic paint (which is what they’re selling) is not at all suitable for painting a motorcycle, but if you can get ahold of some beads (the smaller the better; see if you can find “sign beads”) they ought to work with just about any paint that doesn’t dry too fast, especially if it’s light colored and opaque. They’ll make your motorcycle really bright in people’s headlights.

When I had that job, if some random taxpayer had come along wanting to mooch a pint or a quart of beads we would have been happy to give it to them, so you might want to at least try that approach.

Thanks to all for the replies. Now I have to find out if I can get beads small enough to go thru a paint sprayer. (And how to keep them suspended in the paint. Quite an exercise this is turning out to be.)

Here is some information from the HPV mailing list.

Our local store has glass beads for $6 for a small box.

If you are doing an auto or motorcycle look in the phone book for an auto paint store & buy from them.

I did highway signs, stripes, and all else one summer…the signs we made were of a reflective green plastic laminate that was melted onto the metal. The letters and numbers in white were done the same.

The stripes are sprayed w/ either a latex or rubber based paint usually very fast drying and the beads are simply small clear “glass” beads that are sprayed on top of the paint.

When touching up a job I would often use a roller or hand sprayer and then throw beads on top by hand.

Try the yellowpages in your local area and call someone who does stripes, barricades, etc. “Safety-lights” is one name that comes to mind. They would have the materials you seek.

I worked at Sherwin-Williams in highschool and they used to sell a reflective paint, but that was then. They did have reflective spray paint at one time but…I don’t know anymore.

You might want to check w/ your Dept. of Public Safety regarding the reflectiveness of your vehicle.
I was told once upon a time that it was illegal to be TOO reflective. I don’t remember the specifics…seems like I was doing some chrome work on an old truck I was restoring.

It might save you a headache.