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Buyer’s guide: Frame protection for road and gravel bikes

Guard your bike against scratches, wear and impact damage with the right frame protection

Joseph Delves
1 Aug 2022

Frame protection generally takes the form of special clear tape applied to areas of your bike likely to suffer wear or impacts.

This can be for vanity’s sake, guarding against chips and scuffs while helping you preserve your bike’s resale value. At the same time, it can also help prevent more severe damage such as that caused by rock strikes or your bike taking a tumble.

Anyone who’s heard the thwack of a rock shooting up from the ground to connect with their down tube will understand why you might want to add some extra protection, particularly useful on carbon frames.

Gravel bikes in particular benefit from additional frame protection given the kind of terrain they’re aimed at. The same goes for any carbon frame that’s likely to be used in the mud or to which you might attach bikepacking bags – bag straps are particularly good at wearing through your finish.

Do I need frame protection for my bike?

Protection serves two purposes. First, it stops scuffs and scratches, like those caused by repeated rubbing or your bike sliding or knocking against something. This kind of wear can also result from your frame being regularly clamped into a work stand or bike rack, or having bags or straps lashed around its tubes.

Secondly, thicker and more absorbent tapes can also prevent structural damage. This sort of impact might result from a rock striking the down tube, an accident like dropping something onto the top tube, or a crash.

Carbon bikes tend to be more at risk of structural damage than aluminium models, whereas steel bikes are almost impervious to the kind of damage frame protection tapes can guard against, although they’ll still benefit from protection to their finish in key areas.

How does frame protection for road and gravel bikes work?

Despite being made for the outdoors, many road and gravel bikes aren’t really designed for a knockabout life. While the layups of more robust carbon bikes generally include additional layers of fibre designed specifically to disperse surface impacts, racier machines which focus on minimal weight often do without.

So while frames are extremely strong in the directions needed for stiffness, even a relatively small impact can cause a crack. Helping absorb and disperse impacts, frame protection tape can potentially prevent structural damage while helping you shrug off cosmetic damage.

Of course, this style of frame protection isn’t anywhere near failsafe. Still, given its popularity among mountain bikers, you can bet it’s saved more than a few riders from heartache.

Most frame protection kits use a material similar to 3M’s 8671HS ‘helicopter tape’. This soft polyurethane tape can be wet-applied to your bike frame and feels almost tacky to the touch.

Visually obvious if you look closely, such kits will add between 40-120g once applied to the frame. Thinner and less obvious-looking styles of tape are also available, although these will offer less in the way of structural protection.

While both types will generally stick to matt paint or raw aluminium, they’re usually incompatible with anodized frame finishes.

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6 of the best frame protection kits for bikes

  1. Dyedbro All-Road Frame Protection: Buy now from Dyedbro (€41.99)
  2. Invisiframe Frame Protection: Buy now from Invisiframe
  3. All Mountain Style Gravel/Road Frame Guard: Buy now from AllMountainStyle (€43)
  4. Ride Wrap Bike Protection: Buy now from Ride Wrap (from £30)
  5. Bike Shield Oversize Frame Protector Set: Buy now from Wiggle (from £31.99)
  6. Lizard Skins Frame Protection Kit: Buy now from Tredz (£28)

1. Dyedbro All-Road Frame Protection

  • Price €41.99

With specific kits for gravel and all-road bikes, Dyedbro offers a massive range of different protection products.

Available in gloss and matt finishes, plus loads of lairy graphic options, the standard road and gravel kit contains 12 separate pieces covering all the critical tubes on the frame and fork, plus a bunch of extra round patches for any unexpected areas.

Aiming to protect against luggage straps, cable rub, and rock damage, the kit arrives in a neat package, including a squeegee for helping to fit the patches. This kit is best fitted with the help of a heat gun (or hairdryer). There are easy-to-follow video instructions on the brand’s website.

2. Invisiframe Frame Protection

  • Price: £80-85 for model-specific kits

Made from XPEL automotive grade non-yellowing vinyl, Invisiframe kits offer expansive coverage. A unique wet fit process is slightly more involved than some alternatives but promises to make for a closer match to your frame and is also more forgiving of mistakes during application.

Invisiframe is unusual in producing specific kits covering popular road, gravel, and cyclocross bikes.

With pre-cut shapes matched precisely to your frame size, these are likely to be your best option if your bike is covered.

Alternatively, the firm offers generic kits. Exact dimensions are included on the website, but expect a degree of modification to be necessary to achieve the perfect match.

3. All Mountain Style Gravel/Road Frame Guard

  • Price: €43

With a dimpled, honeycomb surface texture, All Mountain Style’s tape kits are thick while still maintaining a low weight and enough flexibility to make them conform to the shape of your frame.

The brand offers a single kit for road or gravel bikes, which comes in a clear semi-matt finish or with two different graphic treatments.

Made up of 12 parts, this includes big swatches for the top tube and down tube, two long arrows for the fork or the seatstays, plus eight extra sections to guard against cable rub or protect areas where the tyre might contact the frame.

More noticeable than some films, it helps that the tape itself looks good. This kit isn’t too expensive and is likely to provide better-than-average impact protection.

4. Ride Wrap Bike Protection

  • Price: from £30

With a vast range of options, Ride wrap offers custom-tailored kits and several generic options. Currently a little light on model-specific road and gravel kits, its online tool does at least help you find the best fit from among its other products. The firm also offers individual kits for those wanting to protect just their fork.

Likely to require a little trimming, its £60 ‘Covered’ kit should offer around 60% coverage, while its £30 ‘Essential’ kit concentrates on the most critical areas, including the top tube, down tube, seatstays and chainstays.

Arriving with each kit is a squeegee, cleaning wipes, installation solution concentrate, microfiber cloth, and an install key tool. A boon for anyone who doesn’t happen to have such things lying around already, they should offer a good value package.

5. Bike Shield Oversize Frame Protector Set

  • Price: £39.99

The frame protection product most likely to already be hanging up in your local bike shop, Bike Shield kits come in versions for standard or oversized frames.

Matt or gloss finishes are available, and you can buy complete kits or single strips to cover your top tube, down tube, or chainstay.

Made from self-healing material, this tape is easy to fit and not too expensive. Most patches are rectilinear, so it is easy to work out where to place them, although you won’t get the same extended coverage offered by more complex kits.

Despite not being as thick as some alternatives, it should still provide a degree of impact protection and is easily tough enough for cosmetic duties.

6. Lizard Skins Frame Protection Kit

  • Price: £38

These Frame Protectors from Lizard Skins are available as a kit or a single strip to protect an individual tube, and both are simple to select and widely available.

Strips are cut to conform to curving tube profiles, and each also features supplementary chevrons, which can be used to extend their length, while if you opt for a complete kit, you’ll find some extra patches chucked in too.

This means it’s less likely you’ll need to cut them, and you should be able to achieve a neat fit without much hassle. The flip side is that you’ll be restricted to just the main stretches of tubing on your bike.

Relatively thick, it’s confidence-inspiring stuff, although anyone wanting maximum coverage would still be best to look elsewhere.

You clearly care about your ride, so make sure you read how to clean your bike in just 5 minutes and how to clean your bike chain 

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