Those people who try to extend the lifetime of their bikes probably thought quite a few times about protecting the frame against the elements. A lot of things can damage the paint especially on the long run, like pebbles, not rubberized parts of a lock hitting the frame, water and mud over many years, etc. So how to protect the bike one might ask? While looking for a solution, I came across a thing called „liquid rubber”. This is sold in a spray can just like any aerosol paint, and it is also applied just like any aerosol paint, so in general it is quite easy to handle. Also, it is sold in many different colors, including shiny and matte transparent, which latter are said not to alter the original colors of the treated surfaces. Admittedly though, I was a little skeptical about this whole thing. Not just the color retention but the longevity of the protective layer was in question, as all this seemed to be too good to be true. Easy application, evenly covered surfaces, no air bubbles under the layer, easy removal if need be, excellent transparency, etc. Just like a fairy tale one could say. But anyway, since I could not find any better way to find out if this stuff lives up to its expectations and I was curious, I simply bought a can of matte transparent „liquid rubber” to test out. The product in question can be seen on the above image.
As a test surface I chose the front fork, and I did that for several reasons: it gets quite a lot of dirt, it is reachable from all sides quite easily if the wheel is removed, I don’t touch this part very often, and it is of a simple shape without any hard to reach corners. Before the application of the material I cleaned the surfaces and dried them thoroughly. The instruction states, that for proper results 5 layers should be applied, so before trying it on the bike, I tested it on some unused metal scrap. Since having less than 5 layers didn’t result in good coverage, I decided to stick with the suggested 5 layers.
The first thing noticeable is that the transparent rubber lives up to its name, it really is quite transparent. Actually, so transparent, that the difference in color between covered and uncovered parts were hardly noticeable for the first time. So far, so good. It was super easy to apply, everything gets covered properly if the material is sprayed right and nobody can see the difference. Unfortunately though, the material is not really resilient, as after a few weeks of usage some bubbles appeared by themselves. Since I had nothing to loose at this point, I also tested it out on other parts of the frame, and it would seem that the material will get damaged very easily where the bike lock touches the surface. So easily in fact, that if your lock is rubberized or covered with soft plastic, it is impossible not to damage this protective layer. Fortunately, if the damage is not so extensive, it is possible to fix it with same material by spraying extra stuff onto the affected area, but doing it each and every time is hardly a solution, because of costs. A can such as this costs about 12-14 euros, depending where you buy it, which would be a good deal if it would be more physically resistant, as one could probably cover almost the whole bike frame with just one can. But it is not resistant at all, and as such, it would not be feasible to maintain such a protective layer.
So the verdict is, that I would not recommend this on bikes, as it will not protect it too long. I was thinking that some old skoolish BMX-like neoprene covers on affected areas are probably far better choices, but that is my opinion only.
That’s it for now, I hope you found this post useful, thanks for reading.