My 2000 XR650R (Aussie spec, road legal with uprated stator and all the electrics) was not the most ideal base for this build. There were many signs of its age showing, and as new shiny parts started to arrive I knew I had to make the old things look new again!
The first thing to tackle was the frame. I took it to a local bike paint shop and came out feeling let down. The guy I spoke to was friendly but he didn't look positively on getting my frame sanded and painted/powder-coated. His exact words were: "it'll take a lot of hours", "won't be cheap" and "I have never done a dirt bike frame before, the oil tank is a problem".
With pressure building on getting the build done right, I thought I would find a better solution and do it myself. I looked at what is actually on show once the bike is fully built, and also what on my frame was looking tired. Years of leaking coolant had pitted the lower cradle and the side uprights were scuffed (the tubular parts of the frame, I polished the cast bits but left them as they were)
I decided to sand these areas by hand, using first a 240 paper and then a 400 to finish. It took several hours and also an electric drill with wire brush bit to get at all the corners and provide an even finish. I had to sand lightly to finish, and only in one direction to create a nice 'brushed' aluminium look. End result is it looks great! It will be open to the elements and I don't expect it to stay this nice, but I can always maintain it my lightly sanding it again.
Using a top quality aluminium polish also adds a layer to protect the exposed aluminium from the elements.
**For any purists reading this: I discovered that the 1x bike also had 'brushed' aluminium on the uprights, so this method is in line with the real thing ** :)