“Why would I spend the money on a bike frame protection kit from RideWrap when I can get all the stuff at a hardware store?”
“There are just cheaper options to accomplish the same exact thing.”
“The price of these bike protection kits is just ridiculous. Get on eBay and order some automotive protection tape.”
— Internet Commenter n+1
Sometimes we come across these comments, and on gloomy mornings we think to ourselves, “Wait, maybe they’re right?”
So we decided to put our bike frame protection kits up against the DIY method in a highly scientific comparison test. The idea is simple, two riders will face off against each other. One of them will go with the ‘DIY’ bike frame protection method. The other will use RideWrap Tailored Protection™. In the end we will examine the merits of each method.
Some might say “there’s a lot of variables at hand” or “that’s not fair”. Well, we thought you might. A couple factors that we brought to the playing field. Firstly, each rider is working with the same frame, a Specialized Stumpjumper. This will allow us to examine the same curve complexities with the two methods. Secondly, each frame is dirty before they start to a roughly even degree. Thirdly, we gave the ‘DIY’ method an advantage by putting our top installer from HQ on the task. He’ll be up against an unskilled competitor, Will. Our guy, Toren, has done thousands of installs. He has mad squeegee skills, and has seen more kit pieces and bike shapes than anyone.
We are looking to compare a slew of characteristics of the two methods including:
- Cost and Acquisition
- Install Quality
- Excess Waste
- Coverage and Design
To keep the competition fun and honest we invited Into The Gnar coach Yoann Barelli. Yoann plaid host and helper our contestants along the way. Yoann has a handful of install experience. You may have seen from his recent video where he takes on RideWrap for the first time at home. He also brings a boatload of personality, which made this experiment an absolute blast!
The Showdown: Use RideWrap or DIY?
Check out the video to see how Toren and Will fare. Read on below for a deep-dive into the results.
Cost and Acquisition:
“RideWrap is expensive.” We get this one a lot from people. And they aren’t wrong. It is ‘cheaper’ to acquire raw materials and go it alone.
Toren began his race by running around Whistler’s Function Junction picking up supplies. In the end he only needed to make two stops. First stop was at the automotive supply store, where he bought a roll of 6” 3M automotive paint protection film. The second stop was at the hardware store to get masking tape, isopropyl alcohol, microfiber towel, scissors, baby shampoo. Since there wasn’t a squeegee to be found, he decided to try using a credit card for install. (Spoiler Alert: he ended up stealing Will’s squeegee in frustration )
Overall, Toren found buying the materials was fairly affordable($67 CAD). But running around getting them was time consuming. Bonus: He now has baby smooth hair without stinging eyes for the next couple months.
Will’s purchase process was a bit simpler. He ran into the RideWrap HQ and traded his $115 CAD for his Tailored Protection kit. Will was surprised when the production team told him he would have to wait for his kit to be made.
Will won the Low Stress award. He casually waited for his RideWrap kit to be made. He had ample time to enjoy a pastry and a coffee while Toren gathered supplies.
During the install process, there was clear direction and order to Will’s RideWrap kit. Everything was set up for him and this led to what seemed to be a fairly therapeutic process for him. As you’ll see in the video, the stress was a few notches higher for Toren. Having to mask the bike, draw the piece, cut the piece… repeat. It’s a tedious process, even more tedious when trying to make pieces align nicely together for that high coverage protection.
Had this not been head to head, you could make a nice methodical day of the DIY method. In this case, the pre-cut kit took the advantage.
In the end it was a tight race between the two. Interestingly the pair both started actually installing at approximately the same time, about an hour after they began. We’d say the purchasing segment is a wash for time and mimics a real world scenario where you’d either have to run around looking for all the bits, or you’d have to order online whether it’s RideWrap or a hardware store shopping spree.
When it came time to install, Will took the win. He spent most of his time trying to figure out squeegee techniques and piece placement, while Toren spent his time masking, drawing, and cutting pieces for his kit. Naturally this is one of the places where Toren’s squeegee expertise paid off in that applying the pieces was a no brainer for him.
When we consider the actual application of the protective film, naturally the win goes to Toren. Noting that the film he had bought was of a lower grade than he is used to and a bit harder to install, he still has the hours and hours of experience applying film and there was not a bubble or fingerprint to be seen.
Will crushed it by taking a moment to read the instructions that came with his kit. He didn’t take the note about washing your hands seriously and rushed through cleaning his bike and lost a bit of time and installation quality as a result. Besides a few mistakes, he was able to progress from the rear of the bike to the front with success and quality increasing as he did.
A category that Yoann was super passionate about and one that garnered quite a stir on set is waste. The RideWrap templates are designed to use material real estate as effectively as possible, leaving a single backing sheet of waste. The packaging is minimal with a cardboard box holding the kit and only a couple small sachets for the wipes and install solution.
On the DIY front, there was nearly an entire roll of masking tape simply thrown out, backing sheet and excess film everywhere, lots of plastic packaging, and afterwards a lot of extra isopropyl alcohol, baby shampoo, and about 9 more microfibers from the package to keep around or dispose of.
While both methods are not perfect and do have waste, the volume was less for the RideWrap kit and this segment was won by Will.
Coverage and Design:
Last but not least – we have the reason that these two started in this experiment… coverage. In our tests and experience, coverage is the most important factor in a well protected bike. With that in mind, we at RideWrap designed our range to maximize coverage from the Tailored Protection to our universal fit line-up offering industry leading coverage.
Will used the RideWrap Tailored Protection kit that was made specifically for his Size Large 29er 2020 Stumpjumper. As is the case he garnered super high coverage across the frame including inside the rear stays, the bridges, and fully wrapped on the front triangle tubes. Pieces are aligned nicely together with 3mm gaps, nice rounded corners to alleviate potentially peeling, and the whole bike, up to 95% on a carbon frame, is protected.
Within the time, Toren did a top notch job covering the bike. Key areas such as the top tube, downtube, seatube, chainstays, seat stays as well as some of the more complex areas had coverage. There were some design aspects to note, corners were not evenly rounded, some features didn’t end up aligning as well as planned, gaps were large and inconsistent, and many complex areas were left uncovered. During the test he spent quite a bit of time masking up the full downtube, and then trying to peel it back in one piece, only to find that the segment he had designed was actually larger than the 6” film he had purchased, leading to a large gap on the upper side of the downtube.
Toren was happy with the final product he created. It would provide good coverage, but in order to increase coverage and do a cleaner job it would take much longer. He decidedly told us he would not be doing the DIY approach ever again.
Would it be cheeky to give ourselves the win? Yes, but hey. In complete fairness, you can achieve stunning results with the DIY method. Before RideWrap formed, a few of the guys on the team were doing this themselves! But the challenge and effort to get there is much higher.
At RideWrap, we’ve taken the time to develop precisely engineered bike frame protection products. From kit design that is ongoing everyday to sourcing materials that offer the best in protection, we are putting our best out there to help protect bikes from the innate damage they will incur.
We are well aware there are other ways to protect your bike, but we come from a wealth of experience and have found the most effective way to great results.
Feel free to get in touch any time to learn more about RideWrap bike frame protection products, or to tell us we’re wrong and that you can get hella heli-tape on ebay for $6.9, we’d love to hear from ya.