How to protect your bike from scratches

Scratches can be annoying, ruining a bike's pristine frame, but they can be avoided through these easy steps

Clock16:30, Monday 8th April 2024

Our bikes are our pride and joys, so protecting them is high on the priority list. While more serious damage can be critical for a bike, aesthetic damage is simply just irritating.

Scratches fall at the top of this irritation list, partly because they’re so hard to avoid, but also because they can ruin the pristine paintwork on a bike. While it’s impossible to completely avoid scratching a frame, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid them.

Here are our top tips for avoiding a scratched frame.

Protect the frame

Most problems in life can be solved by addressing the root cause, and it’s no different when it comes to preventing scratches.

Scratches are caused by abrasive objects rubbing up against a frame, and these come in all different shapes and sizes. It could be one of your frame bags rubbing up against the paintwork, small stones flicking up and hitting the frame, or worse still, self-inflicted damage by being too brash when cleaning the frame.

While the latter can be remedied by a little more caution, the others require a layer of protection, usually in the form of clear protective tape or vinyl wrap. These come in all shapes and sizes and, as the oft-stated saying goes, cheaper isn’t always better. More expensive products are likely to offer stronger protection, while also having more of a frame-friendly adhesive - some cheaper options could even damage your frame when it comes to peeling them off.

These strips can be placed anywhere across the frame, like on the top tube where a bag is located, or on the chainstays to stop any chain damage.

Clean your bike with caution

Now, it’s time to head back to the aforementioned cleaning damage that can be caused by particularly abrasive brushes or other cleaning products.

That’s why it’s best to always use a soft sponge or cloth that won’t scratch the paintwork.

Always rinse the frame before wiping it to remove any larger dirt or grime too. If you don’t, it will essentially act like sandpaper, grinding down the paintwork.

Use a ceramic coating

Often overlooked, ceramic coatings can also be a handy addition to a bike. Ceramic coatings make the surface of your bike hydrophobic, meaning it will repel dirt and therefore be easier to clean.

As an added bonus, there’s less chance of rubbing dirt or grime against the frame while cleaning it.

Ceramic coatings won’t, however, offer protection against larger objects or impacts, such as stones, so are best used in combination with the other methods in this list.

Be wary when using tubeless tyres

Tubeless tyres have become hugely popular as they offer an extra layer of puncture protection in the form of sealant.

This sealant fills smaller holes in a tyre, but it is not infallible and is helpless against larger holes and tears, as many riders find out when they and their frames end up covered in sealant. That leads to a big mess which isn’t always easy to clean up, especially if dirt has mixed in with the sealant, leaving a hazardous mixture caked across your frame that could leave it laden with scratches.

Combating this treacherous scenario can be tricky, but it will be made much easier with the help of a specialist sealant cleaner. After softening the sealant, you should have a much easier job cleaning the frame, although you’ll still need to be wary of any dirt or grime.

For more maintenance tips and how to guides, check out our dedicated How To section the GCN website

GCN's Essential Road Bike Maintenance
GCN's Essential Road Bike Maintenance

For road, gravel, commuter and hybrid bikes, Essential Road Bike Maintenance is intended to be a proper bible to all those essential bike maintenance, repairs, and set-up tasks that we all need to know. Everything from basic bike set-up, how to get your wheels on and off, through setting up gears, bleeding brakes, and beyond to things like installing electronic gears, converting to a 1x transmission and more. In a nutshell, pretty much everything you would want to tackle on your bike (or bikes, plural) yourself. And then some. Like bike set up tips for taller and shorter riders; bottom bracket standards explained; common bike maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them; essential roadside fixes to keep you riding; how to make your bike more comfortable; how to puncture-proof your ride and much, much more. “A huge amount of knowledge, hacks, and know-how to help improve both your workshop skills and your ride” – Ollie Bridgewood, GCN Presenter Each chapter is structured with the tasks you’ll most likely need more of the time at the start (like how to adjust your gears, replacing brake pads, or changing a tyre), before running through to those that you’ll do much more infrequently (such as changing disc brake hoses, servicing a freehub or pedals, and so on). This also means that many of the tasks naturally ratchet up in difficulty as you go through each chapter which should also mirror your natural progression as you become more mechanically capable and confident. In short, 260 pages packed with all the essential knowledge you’ll need to confidently take on and complete pretty much any bike maintenance task. Get Some ‘Show-How’ With Your ‘Know-How’ Each walkthrough is linked to a companion video which you can watch for free from your computer, tablet or smartphone. To watch, either type in the walkthrough’s short-link URL – e.g. – into your browser, or scan the QR code with your smartphone or tablet so you can get the best of both worlds: know-how and show-how. Simple. All you need to know to fix your bike. Product Details: Pages: 260 (120sm) Size: 280mm (h) x 216mm (w) (portrait) Cover: Paperback Cover Finish: 300gsm, silk stock with anti-scuff matte laminate and spot UV gloss finish Please note: There may be some additional shipping charges for orders consisting of 2 or more books. However, our customer service team will contact you after you have placed the order to advise on delivery options. Click here to explore all GCN best selling books

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