Thursday, August 23, 2012

DIY Decal Restoration

The Sekine promotional materials I've read brag about their multi-step paint process, and 30 years later many a frame is still "lustrous and long-lasting." The decals, however, are another matter. Applied after the final clear coating of the frame, the decals are prone to peeling or abrasion, and I've seen more than a few missing letters. The seat tube decals hold up rather well, possibly because of their larger adhesion area and minimal edges.
The main advantage, I suspect, of decals over the paint is that it speeds up the factory's production process. Applying decals below the clear coating would introduce a slower step, and possibly contamination, into the production.

I have a frame I am restoring, and the old downtube SEKINE decal was long stripped away, with faint ghost outlines remaining. But what's the point of riding a Sekine, if people don't know it's a Sekine?
Luckily, it's not hard to make a simple, lettered decal. I made a photocopy of some mint SEKINE letters to use as a stencil, and found some sticky vinyl paper to use for the decal. With some careful effort, I traced then cut out identical lettering for each side.
Cleaning the frame is a crucial step. I used some toxic-smelling solvent to help carefully dissolve any remaining old decals, and finally wiped down the frame with rubbing alcohol (which leaves no residue).
Carefully, I applied the new decals into the ghost of the old, firmly pressing down the edges to make sure they stick. Et voila! The DIY decals are quite sharp looking, and from a few feet away look factory-new.

Before and after.

The seat tube (and frame tubing material) decal would be much harder to reproduce (and more specific to the model year), and I'd have to enlist a professional print shop to make them. Which is exactly what a friend of mine did when restoring his vintage Sekine. He had more than a few sets made, and they are for sale if you're restoring a Sekine of your own. Contact for info.

There's also a shop or two making vintage decals for bicycles- but I haven't seen any Sekine decal sets yet. is good, with lots to offer.

Edit 5/2014:
Jim Nielsen from Vancouver has scanned the originals and re-printed sets of the Sekine downtube decals. He has a few sets for sale. Your best bet for replacements is to contact him directly via e-mail: jimbotoad (AT)


  1. Hi there! Great blog about such an awesome bike manufacturer. I've got a late 70's SHT 270, and have been looking for decals for quite some time. Does your friend still have copies?


  2. Just saw these on Ebay. Guy seems to have a bunch of the original decals for sale! Happy bidding.

  3. Rod, could you please share the info for your friend who's reproducing the seat tube decals?

  4. Hi there, could I possibly have your friend's contact info as well? Cheers (

  5. Hello there, could I possibly get your friend's contact info as well for the decals? Thx.

  6. Please see update at bottom of post. There's a local guy in Vancouver who had decals made, please e-mail him (jimbotoad AT for information.

  7. For anyone out there still lurking for Sekine decals like I was, I actually converted the logo into a vector format for my own printing purposes. I'd be happy to share the file with you. You can email me at colin.s.ward [at] gmail [dot] com