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  1. #1
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    Protecting your carbon frame - and a DIY downtube protector

    Hi All,

    I just recently got my first carbon bike (Gary Fisher Superfly - 2009) and am both thrilled and terrified. I'm thrilled that it is light and has a great feeling ride. I'm terrified that there is some rock or other trail obstacle that can destroy it. So, I'd like to take some reasonable precautions to keep my ride intact so I can enjoy it for years.

    I figure the downtube and chainstay are two natural places that I might put some extra protection. The bottom bracket area already has a chain suck plate (thank goodness).

    The chainstay is easily protected by a cheap Gatorskins that I bought. However, I couldn't find a simple product or fender that protected the entire area of my downtube from the bottom bracket to the fork.

    So, I decided to do a little DIY project that turned out really well (I think) and I'll share with you.

    However, before I go into details, one question for you brave carbon riders: is there anything you do to your frame (or change to your riding style) that you think will help your frame last a bit longer? Please share you tips and suggestions!

    My Cheap and Lightweight DIY downtube protector.

    Since the downtube has an awkward shape, I started by cleaning the frame surface and applying a layer of quality 3M electrical tape. 3M has different types of tapes, I chose the regular tape since I wanted something I could easily remove later. I wouldn't use the "super adhesive" type. Plus, the black tape matches my frame, covers up an obnoxious white "Gary Fisher" sticker, and provides a little extra protection. From a few feet away, the tape is virtually invisible (as you can see from the picture below). Note: I even used a bit of tape on the top tube to protect against accidental damage/scratches from the brake levers (carbon too) when the handlebar accidentally swings towards the top tube (did that already a few times - argh!).

    Next, I bought a short section of clear, flexible 20mil thick vinyl sheeting. I cut a strip out that exactly matched the exposed length of downtube.

    Then I used 3M's super sticky double stick tape (the gray stuff that has a near permanent bond). The tape itself is also about 20 mil thick and provides even more protection.

    I first applied the tape to the clear vinyl so that I could get it really close to the edge of the vinyl (no-sloppy overhang) and make it easier to apply.

    Finally I stuck the vinyl and tape to the frame now protected by the electrical tape.

    Note: Before I got started I did a quick test (see last picture) to make sure the double stick tape would adhere to both the electrical tape and the vinyl. Always good to check first!

    I think it turned out looking really good and I don't worry about rocks thrown up by the front wheel anymore. The 40mil of combined padding should help a lot when rocks come flying off the front wheel. If I was really obsessive, I'm sure I could even find some black vinyl v.s. clear vinyl for an even better look.

    So far it is sticking really well. Total cost was less than $10. You should be able to get the materials from Home Depot, Lowes, or a plastic's supply store. I got them at our local Tap Plastics.

    Note that I could probably protect other parts of my frame with the same method. There isn't much room around the rear wheel and I think the rear part of the bike is less likely to get hit by rocks from the tire... However, I'm open to suggestions and want to learn from your experience!

    Pictures below... Comments welcome!
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    Last edited by mrthreeplates; 12-04-2010 at 02:24 PM.

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