Looking after your bike frame is more than just about aesthetics – although that’s important too. Depending on the material of the frame, deep scratches and cable abrasions can be potential sites for corrosion. Keeping the frame in good condition will also help if you ever want to sell the bike on second hand. There’s nothing more frustrating than putting a ding or a scratch on your new bike so what can you do to keep your bike in the best shape possible? Thankfully, there is a range of frame protection products out there and available to buy.
The first key area that is prone to avoidable damage is the chainstays at the back end of the bike. These are the thin, horizontal tubes that connect the bottom bracket (to which the pedals connect) to the axle of the rear wheel. As you cycle along over bumps and change gear, the cycle chain can bounce up and down and whack into the chainstays, gradually scratching, chipping and damaging the paint work. This problem is found particularly on mountain bikes, which generally have more slack in the chain to accommodate the wider range of gears needed. The rough terrain too contributes to the problem. To protect these tubes, thick hard plastic or foam stickers can be applied to the frame to take the impact from the chain. These can be ultimately replaced when they wear through or for resale purposes.
The second area worth protection is anywhere that a brake or gear cable has the potential to rub on the frame, for example on the head tube at the front of the bicycle. The head tube is the vertical or near vertical tube on the bike frame into which the handle bars attach. As you cycle along and turn around corners, the brake and gear cables, which typically travel from the handle bars to where they are clipped onto the down tube can rub against the head tube and gradually take off the paint work. Again, hard plastic stickers can be bought that stick securely onto where the cables rub, thus protecting the frame itself.
Serious mountain bikers might also want to consider protecting the exposed areas at the feet of the front forks. These are often the first areas to get clipped against rocks and other hard objects. Specialised plastic or carbon protectors can be applied to take the hit rather than your paintwork. It might also be a good idea to consider covering the rear suspension boot to keep dust, mud and grit out of the suspension unit itself. This measure will help keep the shock absorber looking and more importantly performing like new for longer.
A lot of these protectors are made out of the same sticky hard plastic. As such it is possible to buy A4 sheets of the material which you can then cut to sizes that suit your particular bike frame. Of course you can also purchase them ready cut. Either way, a little time protecting your bike when new will maximise the life of the frame as well as its good looks.