How to apply RideWrap to your frame

RideWrap protection film is designed to protect your pride and joy from the trials and tribulations of every day riding.

With a brand new Handsling CEXevo frame waiting to be built up and ridden I thought I should try and preserve its pristine looks. In my previous article I ran through how RideWrap works and the various options: go check it out if you’ve not heard of them before.

Why wrap my frame? Well the CEXevo is my ‘cross/gravel bike, which means it’s going to get hammered! No pampered life lies ahead for it. Unlike the road bike, it will have to shrug off mud, gravel, even sticks and stones! And being my test-bike it will have to put up with having parts constantly taken on and off. The last means there will be plenty of chances for dropped tools taking chunks out of that lovely, glittery paintwork!

I had a brand new frame to work on

And because of all those chances of damage to the paintwork I decided to apply RideWrap. I chose the Tailored Protection, this is cut specifically for my bike and gives almost complete protection. Almost? Yes the area around the drive-side cranks isn’t covered. Apparently this is because most customers are applying to complete bikes and getting a good application behind the cranks is impossible. You do end up with some spare film, so you could cut your own fill-in piece.

Frame prep

As I’m working on a new, bare frame, preparation was pretty minimal. RideWrap provide a couple of frame-wipes – for removing grease or other contaminates – so all I had to do was give it a wipe before starting. There’s plenty of helpful instructions on their website, I recommend sitting down and watching these if you’ve not worked with vinyl before. If you’re a “handy” kind of person, working with RideWrap’s film shouldn’t offer any difficulties. RideWrap say you’ll need three to four hours to apply the Tailored Protection and while you could complete it quicker, don’t! Take your time and you’ll get a much better finish.

Once you’ve read the instructions and prepped the frame, it’s time to apply, yes? NO! Have you looked at where you’re going to work? I was lucky enough to be able to work in Handsling’s workshop, a clean, well lit and dust-free environment: perfect. Another little tip is to work on a surface that won’t be damaged by water. The secret to applying the film without bubbles is water and lots of it. So don’t do it on your mum’s best rug!

You’ll need to clean and prep your frame thoroughly

Ok, so we’ve read the instructions, watched the how-to’s, found a spot to work, prepped the frame: now can we start? Yes, it’s time to get applying. You get a numbered layout that tells you which order to apply the film. The film around the parts that you’ll be applying is coloured, making it easier to pick them out. They’re are also numbered, which cuts down on any confusion.

Time to apply RideWrap

You’ll want to start by spraying a fine mist over the RideWrap film and the frame. This helps keep any dust down when you peel of the vinyl. Peeling the film off is easy, give the backing paper a little squeeze around the cut lines. This opens up the cut line making it much easier to peel the vinyl off the backing. On longer pieces you can give the adhesive side a spray when you’re about halfway off. This again helps keep any airborne dust down and if it were to stick to itself, makes it a lot easier to remove.

A little heat can help dry excess liquid

Once you got it off, spray again: don’t stint on the spray! Hold both ends, you don’t want it sticking to itself, or to you while moving around. Lay it on the frame, paying attention to any orientation marks or cut outs. As long as there’s plenty of water around, you can peel it back off or slide it around into position. With the longer pieces, I got one long edge sorted first and then rolled it round. Use you hand initially and then the squeegee to get most of the air and water out. You can then use the squeegee to really force those bubbles out. The film is pretty tough and as long as you work slowly, you can apply quite a bit of force.

Time for some heat

If you need to remove a bubble or grit, you can gently peel back the film, just a little at a time. Work you way towards the problem, remove the grit or release the bubble. Then more spray and re-apply: it’s that simple. Another problem you might come across is water building up under an edge, which will stop the film sticking. You can sort this by using the supplied cloth to mop it up, or applying some gentle heat to dry the area out. And a heat-gun can come in handy to warm up the film when you have awkwardly shaped areas. This will soften the film and help it mould to the shape. I found this helpful around the head and down-tube junction, where it needed a little encouragement.

The pieces are cut so that where they meet a 3mm gap is left. This leaves room for water to escape, otherwise the edges wouldn’t properly lay flat. These gaps are also around any frame openings, bottle cages, disc brake etc. and are for the same purpose. These lines are only noticeable on my frame where the gloss film crosses the matt black areas.

RideWrap comes in three varities
RideWrap comes in three varieties

Matt to gloss, or vice-versa

This is actually quite a useful feature of the RideWrap. Have a matt frame, but really you wanted a gloss finish? Not a problem, just apply the gloss finish et voilà, a gloss frame you have! And of course you can order a matt film and achieve the opposite effect, but why would you do that?

The finished article

So there you have it, RideWrap successfully applied. While the full Tailored Protection film may appear a daunting prospect, if you follow their guidelines and take your time it is achievable. Alternatively you could choose either the Covered or Essential Protection films. These use more generic pieces that can be applied to any bike and are a little less daunting.

Now that the film is on, I’ll finish off building up the frame. Then it will be time to ride, safe in the knowledge that it’s protected against all those annoying scrapes and scratches.

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