Not the Paint! A Bike Frame Protection Review Roundup

We've tried at least half a dozen different mountain bike frame protection products, and these are the highlights.
Bike frame protection on the head tube.

What’s the first thing you do when you buy a new bike? Set the sag? Tidy the cockpit? Swap out the plastic valve caps for anodized, color-matching pieces? More than ever, one of the first things riders do is wrap their frame in some form of protection before they get dirt on the tire knobs.

It makes sense. As a an overeager BMXer who saved a summer’s worth of paper route paychecks when I was 13 to pay for a bike, I ramped my shiny metallic blue Haro off a stair set hours after I bought it only to biff and throw the frame onto a curb. The chainstays were scratched and I felt like I had just thrown half my money down the storm gutter.

Three hundred dollars was a lot of money back then and if frame protection was a thing in the late 90s, I would have bought some. Mountain bikes cost a lot of money these days. Frame protection is a fraction of the cost and can make a huge difference when the time to sell comes.

We’ve tired a smattering of different types of adhesive frame protection and used them on various bikes over time. Some pieces are more expensive and more tedious to install but they all work in their own special way. Here are a few options you may or may not be familiar with, and how they performed.

Miles Wide EverClear Frame Protector Roll

Miles Wide is a US-based company that makes a catalog of bike accessories you never knew you needed. Miles sent a goodie bag last summer and I’ve been trying the different product since. At only $25, the EverClear frame protector is a winner. The tape is 12 ‘MicroMeters’ thick, two inches wide, and 60″ in length. They say there is enough material to cover the top and down tubes, the chain stay, crank arms, and everything in between. That seems about right.

Bike frame protection on the top tube.

I’ve used it to cover the length of two different down tubes, a top tube, and a few other pieces. With the EverClear being the same form as a roll of packing tape, there is some DIY involved with cutting. This tape doesn’t conform very well over corners so it’s best to cut it down so it will lay as flat as possible.

The tape is thicker than most other frame tapes I’ve experienced though and feels tougher than most too. Try and dig a fingernail into the tape and it won’t budge. I haven’t had any long term issues with the tape and even some of the sides applied on the edge of a corner haven’t frayed up any farther. I would certainly use the EverClear again.

Miles Wide makes two different finishes; matte and gloss. Both are $25 and are available for purchase from Miles Wide and at Amazon.

Muc-Off Bike Frame Protection Kit

The ever-growing Muc-Off product line has a whole lot to it in the bike protection category, from Apple Air Tag mounts to protective paint sprays. So much so, that frame protection has its own category with several different options for their latest frame protection kits. This summer, I tried the clear gloss kit on a new bike.

The kits are available in different finishes and patterns and come with everything you need to coat nearly a whole frame. The Muc-Off kit is “made up of multiple universally designed shapes and sizes to cover all the high-risk areas on your bike.” The material consists of a thermoplastic polyurethane which Muc-Off says can with withstand severe impacts and is flexible enough to fit almost any frame. The kit is stain-resistant and shouldn’t yellow over time. Scratches are intended to buff out by applying warm water. There are 45 pieces in the kit which costs $100.

I found the Muc-Off kit covered all of my sensitive spots on one bike and I had enough left over to apply to other exposed parts on another bike. The Muc-Off frame protection kits are thin, but as advertised, flexible and they seem to be more than durable so far.

Photo: Muc-Off

Application was fairly straightforward. The kit is so malleable though, that it can be difficult to eye the pieces and apply them straight at times, especially since some of them are quite long. I also had to be extra careful to keep dust and debris off the frame during installation. Because the kits are thinner, dust between the tape and frame seemed to show more easily.

These circles and plusses are oddly shaped for some spots.

The gloss finish is really nice though and adds a good shine to the matte frame I applied it to. Dust wipes off easily and it has been fending off rock strikes with ease.

The frame protection kits are available in a number of different colors, patterns, textures, and frame sizes. All sell for $100 online.

All Mountain Style Frame Guards

  • MSRP: $36 – $46
  • Buy from Amazon
A pretty seamless look between matte black and the black AMS guard.

All Mountain Style was an early contender for bike frame protection. Their kits have a thick, armored feel and the material is made from a semi-rigid, high impact, and rub-resistant PVC material. AMS guarantees the material won’t yellow over time and it will even last longer than your bike. The guards are made in very basic kits for as little as $24. These kits have a longer strip that’s ideal for a top or down tube and several chevron-shaped pieces that can be applied anywhere.

At the other end of the spectrum, All Mountain Style offers kits that include pieces for every tube and stay for $89. The different kits come in different colors and patterns. Though not all have black, there is a clear/matte version in every size.

I applied an ‘Extra’ sized kit to bikes here and there over the past few years in sensitive spots, and the AMS guards do last quite a long time and hold up to rough hits. Because they are thicker and more rigid, they are easier to apply than thinner kits.

I’m not a big fan of some of their patterns like camo or cheetah, but holy cow they have a lot of options in the ‘Extra’ size kits including robots, several solid colors, and even a Stranger Things version. That’s what personalization is all about.

Kits can be found at various online retailers including JensonUSA and Amazon.

VHS 2.0 Slapper Tape

Velocity Hucking Systems + a frame protection and sound damping tape = a clever name. I found this tape on Amazon and it was a perfect fit for two of the bikes in my garage which both have underwhelming chain slap/noise damping protection on the chain stay.

The Slapper tape is made for chain slapping and it uses a thick 3M tape underneath the rubbery air bubbles. The VHS 2.0 Slapper tape is 70mm wide and wraps about 75% of both of my chainstay diameters. The tape is 350mm long and I was able to use it to cover one chainstay fully and add enough protection on another to keep it quiet.

It’s easy to install and sticks well but I did use zip ties to keep the tape from dog earing. The only issue I’ve had with it is on one frame where the clearance between the tape and chainstay and my crank and crank boot is too tight. I had to trim some back but I kept the same amount of material on top of the stay.

Otherwise, the Slapper tape delivers a lot of protection in a small package and does seem to silence chain slap on slappin’ descents for $32-$35.

3M Mastic Tape

If your budget is on the smaller side, mastic tape still makes a great chain slap protecter. Available on either Amazon or at your local Lowes, Mastic tape is a thick, rubbery adhesive made for insulating and sealing wires or cables. 3M says this has a 5-year shelf life, and a roll costs about $15. I’ve built ribbed chainstay protectors before with mastic tape, a tube, and electrical tape and though they aren’t as pretty or as easy to install as the VHS tape, they do a pretty good job at damping noise and protecting paint.

Raised mastic tape under the tube and zip ties and mastic tape behind the chainring. Overkill or just right?

Honorable mentions: packing tape and 3M paint protection film

There are A LOT of options on the market these days and the ones we referenced above are only a small handful. As a few more DIY options, I’d recommend an automotive paint protective film, which you can find on Amazon or at Home Depot or Auto Zone. Because these are big rolls and not cut for bike tube sizes they are more involved and take a precise hand to measure, cut, and apply. The kinds I have used aren’t as thick as some of the bike-specific tapes like Miles Wide or AMS, but they protect from scratches just fine. This big roll sells for $20 on Amazon.

Bike frame protection and decal

I have also had luck with some packing tapes protecting sensitive decals. These are best applied if you don’t plan on taking them off and work better with matte paint since it will peel up easier if necessary.

What’s your go-to frame protection tape or decal kit?