LIFELINE FRAME PROTECTION PATCH KIT
Weight miniscule, 10 piece, Transparent £5.50
Keeping paintwork nice is not easy on any bike that gets ridden. Avoiding cable run scuffing, chain slap, and other abrasions helps, even before we deal with gravel propelled at high-speed LifeLine’s Frame Protection Patch Kit is an inexpensive option which covers many bases. It does the job, and what more can one ask from something you are not even really meant to see? Well, co-editor of www.sevendaycyclist.com, Michael Stenning, recently reviewed Zefal’s Skin Armor, so my turn to serve and protect.
Pros: inexpensive, effective.
Cons: needs care to install.
Pre-shaped stick-on protection kits are nothing new and you’ll find plenty of options. LifeLine don’t go public on thickness, but their take on the clear frame protection kit feels pretty sturdy. There’s 4 30mm and 4 20mm cable rub patches, as well as a larger square piece, and the ubiquitous chain stay protector. All are made from PU and peel off to reveal a self-adhesive back.
First things first. There’s no point sticking your patch on a dirty or greasy surface. It will look awful and is unlikely to stay in place long. So, a good scrub with a bucket wash, or a thorough clean with alcohol wipes, before you set to work. It’s worthwhile re-touching any chips, too. In other words, give time for preparation – it may take a few days for new pain to cure.
Selecting the most suitable shape, peel it off, and carefully smooth it onto the desired spot. Smooth over from one end, but don’t stretch the material. The aim is to finish sans air bubbles. When content smooth down to ensure all-over adhesion.
The main obstacle for me, came courtesy of decorative work on older frames. This was especially true where cable runs aligned with fleur-de-lys lugs or over smaller gauge seat-stays. The first took time and care to ensure that all the corners were worked in. The latter required cutting to size.
Personally, I prefer a craft knife to scissors when working with thicker materials like this. Even more so, when one side is sticky with adhesive. I would not say that these are especially difficult to work with, but I’m not so nimble fingered as some.
On the newer bikes in the fleet, there have been no such issues.
Back in the day, sticker kits had a reputation for peeling off at the sight of lubrication sprays and being vulnerable to a good soapy wash. Things seem to have changed. Taking care to wash frequently – motivated more by the requirements of a thorough test rather than imitating Michael’s strict bike-hygiene regime.
I guess that I may have, subconsciously, taken things a bit easier with the soft brush around the patches. Even so, I’ve not been aware of any peeling or noticed lifting at the edges. That’s deterred discolouration around the edge. On a similar front, three months is early days but there’s no sign of negative UV impact.
So far, five hundred miles in, the patches are very much still in place, keeping those naughty cables from scraping the paint job. Chain-stay protector, likewise keeping off the detritus expelled from the chain and, no doubt repelling the odd bit of grit flung from the towpath and forest tracks.
This is hard to judge in some ways. A new chip or two has appeared where the frame was not protected, but that may be fortune as much as much as stout defence by LifeLine’s patches. Still, there seems no reason to doubt the latter could well be the case.
There’s been no return of the cable run scuffs that required a touch of paint around the lugs.
LifeLine’s Frame Protection Patch Kit, offers, in my opinion – like many of their products – a heady mixture for quality at a good price. I suppose that is the definition of value. Helicopter Tape is something of a gold standard for protection ‘skins’, but some find it trickier to work with. Equally, it is highly durable.
More to the point for bicycles, which some might say do not require the same sturdy protection required by helicopters, Zefal Skin Armor Roll comes in at a good price. You get a lot of it, too. Got lots of bikes? Need to cut your own patches for more fancy designs? Well, the roll might suit you better. Zefal also offer the same material as a patch kit.
LifeLine Frame Protection Patch Kit is convenient, relatively easy to work with, and ideal for those wanting to keep their frame neat and tidy. As with all one-size-fits-all products, more complex designs, lugs, and runs, may require more individual input, or a stretchier variety. However, you won’t go far wrong if you want a ready to go, convenient, and good quality patch set – especially on more modern machines.