What do the parts of the carbon frame need to be protected for rocky trail?

And, what do you use to protect the carbon down tube for rocky riding?


Some people used to install "Paint Protective Film" (PPF) for cars' paint protection and some bicycles, do you think it is practical? If ans is Yes, what is the suggestive film to use to protect for rocky riding.


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    I Do not own any carbon Frames but I do wrap chain stay and downtube of my aluminium frames with old bike tires held with zip ties. The tire strips are cut with a pleasing shape and the rubber treated with automotive vinil polish in order to look "less ugly". I use rubber from thick, slick work tires. The rubber protects the chainstay and make chainslap much more silent. For downtube, I've only had one event of a hand-sized rock lifted by front tire and hitting the downtube on unprotected frame and it was very audible and left a visible dent. If it happened again, was inaudible. – Jahaziel Sep 28 at 15:10

Carbon is not as fragile as many think. The tubes on such bikes will be built to handle typical riding for that bike - for gravel bikes this is probably not smashing the down tube onto a rock, but it will handle rocks flicking up and hitting the down tube without suffering structural damage, A typical Carbon MTB should be able to handle a reasonable knock to the bottom of the down tube with no damage, even though this is rare. Anything that risks smashing the down tube is unridable, and the chain ring usually gets in the way first if the timing of a jump bunnyhop etc is that far out.

Adding protection robust enough to make a difference comes with the cost of extra weight and ugly. You would probably get a lighter total setup with an alloy frame.

There are clear wraps available, that stick onto frames, for those who like to prevent chips and scratches and keep their bikes looking as close to showroom new as possible. These do provide good cosmetic protection.

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  • Thank you for answer. Do you ever consider the frame protective film? – Cray Kao Sep 28 at 0:32
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    No, I buy bikes to ride, not wrap up and protect like some precious art piece to be kept in pristine condition for show and tell. While I have nothing against film and each to their own, the for me the cost is better put into something useful like a light tire or a cold after ride beer. – mattnz Sep 28 at 8:14
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    Cable tie an old inner tube on if you want it to keeping it looking nice for resale purposes - shame about how it looks until you take it off. That's what I do to deal with chain slap – Chris H Sep 28 at 10:01

Helicopter tape. Underside of down tube and bottom bracket shell, plus anywhere your bags or housings rub.

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    To clarify, "helicopter rotor tape". Clear, tough, sticks. – Armand Sep 30 at 4:21

More aggressive bikes, both carbon and aluminum, often come with moulded plastic downtube guards. They prevent rocks from slowly eroding the paint and relatively light BB strikes. The drive side chain stay is usually protected too by a rubber guard.

I personally have the car vinyl wrap on my downtube. It does help and works well. Chain stay protectors are standard equipment on MTBs, and I use a piece of road bike tire for mine.

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