This might seem like a daft question but I have in fact tried to do my homework already and come across a lot of contradictory advice.
So here it is, I have a CAAD10 frame that I recently had the paint stripped off because it was getting a bit tatty and bubbling in a few places. I was going to paint but instead have decided to leave it raw but obviously want to clearcoat/lacquer it to offer at least some barrier from corrosion .
The internet is, as usual, full of various suggestions of how to do it including those saying it can't be done but obviously it can as I previously owned one of the polish Mash rip off Mielec frames that was coated bare alu and that held up fine for years.
So whats the best advice/products for doing this at home?
I've got a caad 5 frame that's been bead blasted and as far as I know, no surface treatment other than the odd rub down with light oil on a rag. No corrosion in sight. It's been a good few years now and not exactly meticulously stored or anything like that.
You can clear coat bare metal, it just won’t adhere particularly well, so will look pretty tatty pretty quickly. Steel will still get rust worms under 2k clear eventually. Aluminium will likely oxidise.
An initial coat of epoxy primer is what actually sticks to the metal substrate, and the base and clear coat just adhere to the primer, so without the primer, you don’t really get very good adhesion. Primer is the layer of paint that seals the substrate, and protects it from corrosion..... the base coat colour on top of that has no protective aspects, and the clear coat on top of the base colour only really protects the underlying base coat colours - the initial coat of primer is what protects the frame from corrosion, so any finish that doesn’t have an initial coat of epoxy primer will never be particularly hard wearing.
You can get special 2k lacquer that is designed for direct adhesion to bare metal, but it’s still not that great.
Clear Powdercoat is your best bet, but even that doesn’t have great longevity.
Clear coat over bare metal is fine for a lot of objects that don’t really get exposed to the elements (furniture etc), but not so great for a bike that actually gets real world use in all weather conditions.
Polish it! Then everyone will tell you how shiny your bike is.
Thanks for the advice guys! Although now also toying with the idea of metallic fade between two shades of grey something like this: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0DkrInFVsl/
From my understanding, if you still want to go for clear coat, is that Aluminium oxidises on the surface and actually seals itself in so a surface layer of oxidation isn’t a bad thing and it’s how raw aluminium like Scrabble’s will stay fine. It’s a no no with steel obviously coz rust
Unless stainless steel
Which isn’t 100% never rust proof but yes, unless SS
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