Wednesday, December 16

Wax On Wax Off

Use the "long life synthetic wax on THIS bike

Apertome DID Ask!
Bikes really ARE different. Apertome, commented here about waxing:

"I like the waxing idea, but do you think this would work well for aluminum fenders? I have Velo Orange aluminum fenders, with a matte finish. Not sure if wax would work well there.

Another thought, if I waxed my mountain bike frame, would that make it easier to clean? I assume it wouldn't harm the finish.

I've never waxed anything in my life, so I don't know much about that stuff, what do you think?"

Rather than comment, this is a topic worth a little more discussion, and hence this post. We'll address the items one by one, and then I'll blather on a little.
Waxing Bare Aluminum (or Chrome)
On my Jaguars, I wax most any metal or painted piece. Usually, if you wax a piece of matte aluminum, it'll remain matte, though it may shine just a little. If you don't bother buffing much, it won't shine much, so it's actually EASIER to wax a matte piece. No elbow grease! The safe thing to do is try waxing a small bit of the bottom of a fender to convince yourself that you won't object to the topside also being waxed. Why wax an aluminum fender, you ask? It's simple. The wax helps keep oxygen in the air from combining with the aluminum to form aluminum oxide. Another way to achieve the same effect would be to grease the fender, but that wouldn't look nice and would attract dirt. On my Jaguars, the only aluminumor chrome items I do NOT apply wax to are those that would be expected to get hot - as in the aluminum cam covers and cylinder head, and the chrome resonators. In any event, you want to wax the bottom of a fender more than the top because that's the part where moisture will most likely help oxygen do a number on the aluminum. Particularly important are any little corners where dirt and moisture will collect. Slop a bit of wax (or grease) on those bolts when you assemble.
Waxing the Frame
Waxing Apertome's mountain bike frame WOULD make it easier to clean. The dirt would wash off easier. An easy test is to wax one item, go for a really sweet and muddy ride, and then see how it cleans up compared to normal. One nice thing about wax on a bike is it isn't an all or nothing proposition, and compared to even a SMALL car, the area is minimal. As for the finish, I'll discuss that in the blather paragraph. It WILL, however, help slow paint erosion and damage to the finish from daily riding. Wax is not a miracle product, so it'll benefit the bike's finish most by reducing the effect of fine abrasives such as dust and dirt. When I wax a show car, it is an all-day operation between the wash, the glaze, and then the wax. When I wax a bike, it takes a few minutes. Most of that few minutes I get back next time I clean the bike.
Now, about the finish - this is an area where I think some of the differences between bikes and cars really become important. When I put wax on my Jaguars, I always and ONLY use high carnauba wax without synthetic additives and ESPECIALLY no silicone. None of this "spray on" or "cleaner" wax. Silicone is a mixed blessing in a wax. It helps shine, but it reacts with the paint and can produce "fish eyes" when the vehicle is repainted. "Fish eye eliminator" can help, but it doesn't completely prevent the fish eyes. For my cars, I carefully avoid anything with silicone in it that will come in contact with paint. Silicone is very persistent when it reacts with the paint. Washing won't help. For a show car, I'm willing to wax more often and they don't sit out in the sun anyway.
When waxing a bike, I consider how likely I am to want the bike repainted someday. What that means is that I use the high quality carnauba wax on Frankenbike and the synthetic stuff on Buddy. I may want to get Frankenbike repainted. I think Buddy's frame will be worn out before its paint. This means I use all those synthetic waxes I've won over the years in concours to pamper Buddy. I wouldn't use them on any of my cars. I do use them on my wife's car, however. It's not a show car and we'll not be repainting it.
ONE THING to consider is getting one of those waxes that you just spray or slop on. Wipe it down and you're done. I'd seriously consider using some of that stuff on a mountain bike that got really grimy, that I didn't think I was going to get repainted. After each dirt-collecting ride, give it a good rinse to get off most of the dirt and then just slop more of that wax on. Well worth the extra 30 seconds at cleanup time and the bike will resist corrosion better. In contrast to smearing grease all over everything, it won't mess up your clothes or attract more dirt, either! Unlike a show car, you don't want this to become a major production. Most bikes never see any wax so even the most minimal effort will put you well beyond the norm. Don't believe me - go to your LBS and ask the mechanics how often they wax their bike. I will NOT be held responsible for any injuries as they roll around on the floor laughing at you. They do not sell wax at your LBS.
Use the "pure" carnauba wax on this bike to keep silicone away from it!

Stuff NOT to Wax
Don't wax tires or rims (you WANT grip), or plastic/rubber bits you want to appear matte. You COULD wax your chain, and some advocate doing it, but you'll have to go elsewhere to find out how. I suspect a hot melt ski wax might be the ticket, but I've never tried it and can't say how it works. In theory, however, you want a THICK lubricant for the chain that gets in everywhere and doesn't attract dirt. Sounds a lot like wax to me - penetrates everywhere when hot & melted, & then stays there. For that rubber and plastic stuff, you can dress it up with "back to black" products. I use Mother's brand for that, but that's just because I know it works and I don't know about some of the other stuff.
Brand Names
Stick to a reasonable priced version of stuff whose name you recognize. Two brands I like you may not have heard of are Meguiars and Autoglym. I'll use Meguiars on my Jaguars and their product line has an astounding variety. Autoglym makes my wife's car look very nice and it's what I used on Buddy's fenders. Simoniz or Turtle Wax are good products as well, but I tend to stay away from them because I have a silicone phobia and sometimes it's hard to tell. Since you're doing a bike - buy the smallest size available unless you want to pick up brownie points with your spouse by waxing the family car afterwards.

1 comment:

Apertome said...

Woah, I really started something here. Thanks for all the information, I'm going to have to consider waxing either the fenders on my Long Haul Trucker, or my mountain bike frame. Or both. Maybe even the LHT frame, anything that protects and makes cleaning easier sounds like a good thing to me.

Thanks again!

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