Is frame protection worth it?

Is frame protection worth it?

From inexpensive reams of tape, to full bike coverage precision cut from paint protection film. There are an abundance of options available for protecting bikes in 2024, so which should you choose? and are any of them worth it?

Does it help resale values?  

Gathering data from second hand sales is difficult due to the lack of direct comparisons available, but we can look at ex-display bikes being sold by online retailers as a good proxy. These bikes show signs of wear or have paintwork imperfections, including chips, dents and scratches. Ensuring a direct comparison model was actively being sold by the same store, we found discounts of between 4.5%-15%. Higher value bikes show greater discounts compared to less expensive models. Even if the boxed bike was currently offered at a discounted price, the ex-display equivalent was still offered at a greater discount. 

Discount levels may not reflect the same on the second hand market, but it does appear that buyers are willing to pay more for a bike in better condition. When it comes to evaluating the condition of a second hand bike, paintwork and component damage can be a sign that the bike has been involved in a crash according to A wary buyer may mistakenly conclude a scratch or chip was the result of an accident, and be more likely to work away or haggle on price. 

Should I do it myself?

The term helicopter tape is used by many online sellers to describe rolls of clear film that can be used for a DIY solution. The name comes from 3M who originally designed a protective film to limit leading edge erosion on aircraft. The term has now become ubiquitous, but does not necessarily describe a specific brand or quality of film. 

These rolls usually come in 1-3inch widths, which makes them a good fit for protecting frames as they can be easily cut to length while maintained straight edges. Cutting the tape into more complex shapes can be difficult, using paper template mock ups is a helpful step to limit wasting material. So if spending a few evenings measuring and trimming piques your interest, then this is certainly a budget friendly option.

Precision cut kits 

These range from universal solutions designed to fit a wide range of frames, to bespoke kits designed for a particular application. One advantage compared to tape rolls is kits are designed with specific dimensions or relief cuts that make contouring around more complex frame angles easier. This is especially relevant with mountain bikes that have curved downtubes. A precision cut kit will result in a more professional looking finish, and more comprehensive coverage.  

Universal kits may still require a small amount of modification to fit around unique frame design elements. While frame specific kits avoid the need for any alterations, offering exacting fitment at the cost of an increased level of installation difficulty and price. It is possibly to find registered installers to perform this for you, but expect to pay around £100 ($150) for this service.  


Ultimately the choice to protect or not comes down to how you feel about scratches and chips on your bike, and if you think resale value is a worthwhile consideration. Discipline and riding style also play a role. MTB and Gravel bikes are more susceptible to scratches and scuffs, where road bikes are more susceptible to stone chips. Storage and transportation are also contributing factors to frame and component damage. But the wide variety of options available on the market do provide a modular approach, allowing for customisable levels of coverage to suit your needs. 

Other considerations are bike value, ownership length, aesthetics and…social norms? On a reddit poll posted to r/MTB, only 40% of voters said they use some form of frame protection. Perhaps ask your riding group first to see if they’re cool with it? 

/Happy Riding!

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