Polishing your wheels:
I had read several methods of polishing the stock rims on our bike. Everything from sanding to sending them out to chroming shops... you name it, I've heard it. It's actually very easy to do. Follow along and see for youself.
What you'll need: 1 can per wheel of auto stripper. It's available at Wal-Mart as Auto Strip or Aircraft Stripper. Good quality masking tape. Get some from a body shop or similar. I'll show you why you shouldn't use the cheap stuff. A box of rubber gloves, if this stuff eats paint, you DON'T want to know what it does to your skin. Grab a roll of heavy paper towels, I prefer the blue "shop" towels. You'll also find the job is easier with a soft plastic scraper to remove the paint as it bubbles up.
Prep the wheel by getting it as clean as possible. This will allow the tape to stick nicely. Mask off any parts of the wheel that you DON'T want stripped of paint. To clean the wheel I used GumOut, basic carb cleaner in a spray can will work fine. Wipe dry with the paper towels.
Grab that wheel and get it out in the sun. It's got to be done on a warm day. A minimum of at least 70 degrees will be required for this to work correctly. You'll want the metal warm, not hot, to the touch before you move on. Once it's warm, grab your can of stripper and start spraying it down nice and heavy (don't forget those gloves!!). Get plenty on there and let it soak. Obviously you don't want the wheel so hot or in enough sunlight that the chemical dries onto the wheel but you do want to keep it warm. You'll notice it start to bubble up right away. This means it's working.
I'd give it about 15 minutes to work. To test how it's coming along grab your plastic scraping tool and try to scrape some of the bubbling goo away. You should start to see some bright shiney aluminum! Can't you almost picture how nice it's going to look already? Don't worry if it doesn't all come off. You will be reapplying the stripper a few times. Wipe the goo off the wheel with the paper towels and see how well the paint is coming off. Have a bag handy to throw the stripper soaked paper towels in. DO NOT touch this stuff with bare skin and watch your forearms. If you work in a t shirt and start to feel a burning on your skin, rinse with water. *ouch* I warned ya. If you look closely at the first picture below, you'll see why I recommend a high quality masking tape. This chemical is nasty stuff. As it eats away the paint, it also goes to work on the tape. I found the tape was losing it's hold on the wheel and started to peel up. This allows the stripper to hit parts of the wheel you DON'T want it on, so watch carefully.
You're just about done now. Double check for stubborn spots. If you see some, simply spray more stripper on, let it soak and wipe it off. No scraping, no sanding, no hard work! Easy huh? Once you're happy with the results, peel the tape off and wash the wheel to make sure you got all the stripper off. Grab a beverage and admire your work. You'll be amazed (as I was) at how easy it is, how good it looks and that you were able to do it yourself in one afternoon.
Step 5: (optional)
If you're like me, this isn't good enough. So it's time to add some addtional "bling". I knew all along my rims would be polished and painted orange (once the bike is done, it'll make sense to you too).
I know I'm biased but I think this looks GREAT. What makes it even better is knowing I did it myself.