Thursday, July 07, 2016


Zefal "Skin Armor" and "Crank Armor".
Back in 2007-2009 or so when I was opining here about what a good gravel going bike might be in terms of geometry and features, I had this nutty idea for a "bottom bracket guard", so to speak. Basically it would be a stainless steel or brass plate that would mount off the lower set of bottle bosses and cover the lower three inches of your down tube and then flare out to cover the front lower quarter of the bottom bracket. Think "rock guard", or skid plate, and maybe this will make sense. I was concerned about rocks chipping up that part of the frame after several hundred, or thousands of miles of gravel travel.

I was going to have that idea incorporated into my Badger frame before everything went pear shaped with that builder and I just took the frame the way I got it. Anyway.... Afterward, I related the idea to some friends who thought the idea was bonkers because, ya know.......who cares! It's a bike you ride on gravel, so what if it gets chipped up, and really, would it? My friends passed it off as me being overly protective and concerned about a trifle. So..... I forgot about that idea!

Well, I think it was about 2011 when I got my Black Mountain Cycles "Cross" frame, which I have dubbed "Orange Crush". If I am right, that puts that bike right at 5 years of gravel travel, and the other day, when I gave it a sprucing up, finally, I saw it. Chips. On the down tube. Right where I would have put a "bottom bracket guard" dealie. See! I wasn't dreaming! That idea would have worked.

It's too late to save the paint on this ol' girl!
Well, that idea may have worked, but it is definitely overkill, and today, there are better ways to get this job done. Things like Shelter Tape, and now this Zefal product shows up the other day called "Skin Armor".

The Skin Armor is an adhesive polyurethane "skin" that you can stick on your entire downtube, and not only that, the kit comes with other bits of the tape that can ward off cable rubs, chain slap, and more. So, it is lighter weight, and far more versatile than my silly idea is.

One other thing I noticed about the ol' Orange Crush rig was that the aluminum crank arm ends are really scarred up from rock hits as well. Huh! Now I've seen where guys that mountain bike in rocky terrain put these little nibs on the ends of their carbon cranks to help them stay minty fresh, but I never would have guessed I might need something along these lines. Guess what? You can see it already, I am sure, but Zefal has "Crank Armor" just for such a situation.

So, I guess I will be getting the protection I need and didn't know I needed on my crank ends, plus get the frame finish protection I always wanted with the Skin Armor. But like I said, it is too late for the ol' Orange Crush. That girl has "character marks" a plenty! Nope, these deals will be going on a bike that still has a chance to look good, and that would be my Twin Six Standard Rando. I'll have more on how this all goes later.

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