Ask a Mechanic: Adding Frame Protection to Your Bicycle

Chase says, “I just got a new bike and was thinking about applying some downtube protection. Any advice?”

Applying protection on the downtube or anywhere else on your bike is a great way to protect your investment and prolong the life of your bicycle. Adhesive protective layers are most commonly used on the underside of the down tube and drive side chain stay. The downtube is a major target for flying debris, and chain slap on the chain stay will eventually damage the frame. Protective layers are effective in preventing something as simple as a paint chip to something as major as a crack in your frame. There are many options to choose from, but I’ll use a Lizards Skins Downtube Protector in this video. The process applies to whatever you choose.

To apply the protective strip, first make sure the target surface is completely clean and free of any debris or contaminants that will prevent it from sticking. First use a good degreaser or cleaning solution to remove most debris or contaminants. Once the surface is mostly clean, go over it one more time with rubbing alcohol to really be sure all contaminants are removed.

After the alcohol dries you can begin applying the protective layer. Hold the piece up to the area with the backing still on it to check for fit. Do any trimming while the backing is still on before you start to apply. Once you start to apply, begin at the top and work your way down peeling the backing off only as much as necessary to get it started and then stay an inch or two ahead of where you’re currently applying the protection. This helps to prevent the tape from sticking to itself as you apply it, and also helps prevent air bubbles from being trapped under the protection. Slowly move your way down to the bottom, working out any air bubbles you see as you apply. If you notice any air bubbles in the protective layer when you are finished applying, do your best to work them out by hand. If you are unable to get them out completely use a sharp object to make a small hole or slit in the protection and then apply a heat source to the bubble and it will disappear.

That’s all there is to it. This is something that doesn’t take a lot of time and is a very inexpensive way to protect your frame from any damage that could occur under normal riding circumstances.