Who doesn’t want to keep their bike neat and clean and also as new as it was for the first time. But frequent use, rolling over different surfaces during different weather fades away the glow of the bike. It also damages the color or paint of the bike. Color or paint makes the first impression of a bike, as it completes the whole frame design. Naturally, your bike may lose its actual color or powder coating over time, and you can repaint it anytime you want. But while repainting the bike or putting paint to the bare portion of the bike, many face a dilemma regarding, “Can you clear coat a bike frame or not”? Well, both Yes and No can the answer. Are you wondering how so? Well, that’s what we’re going to explain!
What does a clear coat mean?
Everything is vulnerable to damages due to environmental pollution and sun-rays, either our skin or furniture or any bike or car. That’s why it’s always suggested to put on an extra layer of something that’ll protect from the harmful effects and surface rust. A clear coat is that extra layer while painting or after the powder coating or final paint. It’s a clear or transparent substance of paint or resin applied over a bike to protect the paint and metal from oxidizing, rust, and damages due to the dust, water, UV rays, etc. Simply, it works as the sunscreen or preventative primer and also as a corrosion barrier coating for bikes or other vehicles and provides extra protection. Moreover, it’s a clear coat that provides a glossy, shiny effect on the overall bike.
Can you clear coat a bike frame?
In the beginning, we’ve already said the answer to the query of applying a clear coat on a bike frame is both Yes and No. “Yes, you can” because you can certainly apply and should apply a clear coat, but “No, you can’t” because it shouldn’t be used on a raw surface of the steel frame and carbon material or aluminum frame of your bike. You've to consider what are the implications of applying a layer of clear coat over an old paint job on an old frame?
Applying a clear coat directly on the raw surface means bared steel frame or carbon frame will make the coat rust, and it also harms the bare metal. Even though it may look okay for a couple of weeks but after that, it’ll show the harmful impacts. Apart from that, it’s prohibited to apply a clear coat on the already damaged or rust spot areas of the bike, or else it’ll make the whole situation even worse.
It’s preferable to apply a clear coat only after you paint or done with powder coating a clean frame. The additional clear coat will then protect the paint from getting damaged. Also, if you’re thinking to repaint an outstanding bike, remember to take off the previous damaged clear coat from the bike. Or else the new layer won’t work at all.
Always try to remember the sequence while applying a clear coat,
Bare Metal Body → Base Coat → Color coat/Powder coat → Clear coat
Reasons behind clear coat damage & prevention
You may be wondering that if the clear coat is supposed to protect the bicycle frame and paint from deterioration, how come the clear coat itself gets damaged! Well, a clear coat indeed works as a protector but only to an extent. After that, it gets damaged no matter how advanced coating application technologies you use and you've to do the recoloring. Here’re some reasons that make the layer damaged.
- If you frequently ride on rain, but after riding, if you store the road bicycle without wiping off the extra water drops, the clear coat will slowly decay. That’s why never forget to wipe off the bike with a dry rug before storing it.
- The sun’s UV-rays are one of the primary reasons behind the damages of a clear coat. It penetrated the layer, makes it thin, and causes oxidization. Try not to keep the bike in an open space for a long time. Even if you do, cover the whole area it with a plastic wrapper.
- The extreme cold weather also weakens the clear coat. It makes the layer brittle. Also, people use salt to melt the snow, and when the clear coat layer gets in contact with salt, a reaction occurs to contaminate the whole thing. Always wipe off the extra salt after cleaning the snow from the bike’s body.
- If you use any heavy chemical formula to clean up your bike or unintentionally slip-off bike grease over the frame, it harshly affects the clear coat and damages quickly and makes the rust to pop up. It’s better to use regular water for cleaning the bike or liquid soap water. Also, clean-off the water from the body as soon as possible.
- Mud, debris, or ignore scratches and peel off in small areas cause damage to the clear coat after a while. Keeping the bike clean is the first and most crucial step to maintain the clear coating.
How to repair clear coat
Even after taking proper care, if you see that the clear coat is getting damaged or started to peel-off after a while, you can still fix it. Although how we paint bikes is not much differs from how to refurbish and respray your bike frame. Here’s how you can quickly repair the clear coat of your bike without any powerful tool or specialized equipment.
Step-1: There's no special preparation needed. The first step is to clean the damaged area. Use soap water and sponge to clean and then normal clear water to wash-off the soap and use a soft cloth to remove the water from the bicycle frame.
Step-2: Inspect the damage. If there’s a small scratched or swirl mark, then using a polishing cutting compound will do the work. But if you see the coat is getting peeled-off, you have to remove the area’s whole layer by using sandpapers.
Step-3: Removing a clear coat isn’t an easy task; instead, it’s highly progressive. It’ll require sandpapers with 1000-2000 grits. While rubbing the damaged area with fine sandpapers, be cautious not to affect other major parts such as frame tube, head tube, bottom bracket, disc brake etc. It’s better to cover different sides with newspaper or plastic wrapping or proper masking tape, or duct tape and leave the damaged area bared only.
Step-4: Now, it’s time to apply a new clear coating. Shake the can properly and spray the coat but don't overspray. You can apply several coats, although 2-3 layer is enough. If needed you can do another round of refinishing later. While spraying wear a safety glasses and face mask for eye protection and gloves.
But wait a few minutes between each coat. Wait at least two days before moving forward to the next and final step. You can either leave it the ground or hang frame with something.
Step-5: As we’re talking about repairing a small part of the whole bike not the whole area, after applying the new clear coat, you’ll notice an imbalance between the entire frame and that specific area with the new coating. You’ll need a variable-speed polisher, cutting compound (medium grade), and a dry piece of cloth to balance it and to have a smooth coating.
Apply the polisher to other areas, and with the cutting combination, mix it in those places and then wipe-off with the fabric. And you’ll notice the new shine on the whole body.
It is necessary to maintain a bike no matter what kind of bike it is road bike, hybrid bike or electric bike. A peeled off or rusty bike is never preferable, and sometimes it even kills the mood of riding. Indeed a clear coat saves our bike from having a gloomy, faded texture and surface rust for a couple years and provides a decorative finish, but we also need to know how to apply a clear coat and where to use for a frame renovation and a better appearance. Otherwise, we won’t get any advantages. You won't have to be a renovation specialist but always be careful before applying a clear coat, or else you may end up doing something terrible to your bike rather than anything useful.