Hints and Tips: Carbon Bike Frame Protection

Carbon bike frames are surprisingly robust; they can withstand big drops, heavy weights and constant pounding terrain. What they don't deal so well with, is chips; small pin point hits that tend to pierce the layering in the carbon and potentially weaken the weave.

Chipping on bike frames is most likely to occur in a few select areas: the chainstays and the downtube; where problems like chain slap and pebble dash are likely to bombard the frame. Luckily, there are a few cheap and neat tricks that you can do to protect your frame in these areas.


Chainstay Protection

Most people know that the drive-side chainstay on a bike is vulnerable to chain slap; that annoying clacking as you ride over rough surfaces, and the chain bounces onto the stay. At best, it will chip the paint; at worst, it could cause more serious frame damage.

On any frame, it is worth protecting the chainstay on the drivetrain side of the bike. My preferred method is a stick-on protector like the Lizard Skins Carbon Leather Chainguard; or if you prefer, there are the neoprene tube wrap-around protectors (also available from Lizard Skins). The advantage of the stick-on patch is that over time, they don't collect dirt and oil like the neoprene tube wraps; that gives a cleaner and neater look. They're dead simple to fit and do the job very well; really it's a no-brainer to fit one and protect your frame from chain chips.


Downtube Protection

The second area of the bike that tends to really suffer from chips, is the downtube; which is constantly bombarded by gravel and small stones that get thrown up from the trail.

Again, the solution is pretty simple: I use a combination approach, with a Lizard Skins Carbon Leather patch on the underbelly of the bike (which takes the majority of hits), and then clear 3M Helicopter tape up the remainder of the downtube up to the headtube junction. Both of these help to protect the frame from chips, and are virtually invisible; or at worst have just a mild impact on the bike's appearance. Avoid the pebble dash look!


Cable Rub Protection

Chips are one thing that damages carbon bikes, cable rub is a significant other. Moving to a 1x10 set-up on my mountain bike cut down one of the cables that touches the frame, but the rear brake cable is still an inevitable threat. A simple Clear Lizard Skins Patch avoids the cable gradually wearing a groove in the headtube.


Toptube Protection

The top tube is the final part worth protecting. It's an often overlooked area, but it can take a significant hit during a crash, when the gear shifters or brake levers can be flung around and give it a real pin-point hit.

A simple frame protection patch can be all the protection required, and will hopefully help to avoid that accident requiring a very expensive frame repair.


I hope the above hints and tips have been helpful, and will keep your frame looking and performing at its best for longer. Get out and ride!


Comments

  1. Excellent tips for protecting carbon bike frame. Really useful stuff .Never had an idea about this, will look for more of such informative posts from your side.. Good job...Keep it up

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