[First Look] Chameleon Skin Frame Protection

[First Look] Chameleon Skin Frame Protection

13/05/2016
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13/05/2016

[ad3]We just received our latest test bike frame from Transition Bikes and whilst staring at the shiny painted carbon wonder horse we felt ever so slightly nervous about what might come to pass after a few hundred hours in our hands in its natural environment.

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Being given products to test temporarily doesn’t mean we can completely disregard how we treat them, the golden rule is to treat it as if it were your own. Riding off road has its draw backs when it comes to wear and tear. Ideally if like us you have worked hard and spent all your spare Dollars and Euros on a dream bike, there is no doubt you want to keep it looking as good as possible for as long as possible. That’s where Chameleon Skin has stepped in with custom made bike frame protectives.

What Is Chameleon Skin?

Gianmaria Palazzetti a specialist in graphics and clothing was thinking about the problem of preserving your frames finish for many years, luckily he had some time to start experimenting, which has led him to come up with one of the best full frame protection kits we have come across. In fact calling it a kit is a bit simplistic, it’s more like a complete wrap for your bike that only weighs between 70-100 grams depending on the kit size.

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The material the kits are made of is based on a specially sourced and tested protective film that is different compared to other products that are on the market. Frame protection has been around for years in various forms, however this latest material is taking things to another level when it comes to coverage and maintaining finish.

“It’s the latest frame protection technology there is…”

Gianmaria Palazzetti says he discovered the material he uses and tested it thoroughly to make sure it meets all the criteria that mountain bikes demand.

“It’s self healing, doesn’t yellow with time, is easy to replace, doesn’t leave glue residue if you remove it and during installation can be applied and re-applied multiple times until it is mounted perfectly. It also can be printed on with a special technique I am developing. Also, as you can see from the frame wrap that was done on your test frame, it is nearly invisible and in some cases improves the look.

Many of my clients include bike industry professionals that need to protect and maintain test fleets, rental bikes, their own bikes and soon some major manufacturers will be installing these kits on production machines. The idea is to give owners the possibility to preserve and protect their bikes for as long as possible, including maintaining resale value. When you take the protection off the frame it looks like new. Many of the other materials you find out there don’t meet the high standards of product stability that Chameleon Skin does.”

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Gianmaria Palazzetti with our test frame, preparing for a demonstration of how Chameleon Skin works.

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Chameleon Skin is now available in a kit form for home application with more than 120 different tailor-made kits available, depending on your bike model and size. Instructions are included for the home mechanic.  If you do it yourself, it’s apparently best to have an un-interrupted few hours to ensure that the job is finished in one go…to avoid positioning mistakes the material must be manipulated when wet.

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Each kit took about 2 days to design and test on a frame. Due to the hand made nature of the kits it is possible to tweak and modify the kits before they come off the plotter to ensure any nuances.  Improvements or updates with the frame design or feedback from real world testing during application and use can be applied to the next kit.

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Gianmaria has spent months making sure each kit fits perfectly, he shows us a few tricks of the design phase.

Specifications

  • 120 designs available.
  • weight penalty of 70-120 grams depending on bike frame size.
  • Cost of Kit €110 -150 euro depending on complexity.
  • Kits closely follow contours of each frame.
  • Self healing material.
  • Resists dirt and ground material abrasion during normal riding and bike use.
  • Re-positionable during application.
  • Custom printing soon to be available.
  • Easy removal with applied hot air, no glue residue left behind.
  • Cleans up back to original installed finish each time it’s cleaned.
  • Maintains look and resale value of frame.

Preparation And Application

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The best way to see how a product works is to see it being put to use, here our test frame is cleaned and prepared for the kit application with a body work de-greaser. It’s best to apply the kit to a frame when it’s brand new.

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Gianmaria uses a special mix of water and alcohol when applying the adhesive protection.

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Each piece is applied wet.

application

All major parts of the frame are covered by a kit, plus lots of minor surfaces. As the material is wet, re-positioning is easy.

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Each part is applied and positioned carefully and any large bubbles smoothed out by hand.

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To produce the invisible finish a soft squeegee is used.

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This is the finished effort, note that the different parts mesh closely up against one another and it’s really hard to see.

frame parts

All parts of the frame that risk being scratched or dinged are covered in the material. Chameleon Skin resists cable rub well and its use in areas which are focal points of crud buildup also help to protect the areas of a bike that experience wear and tear.  The idea is to maintain frame look without significant large pieces of padding hanging off of it.

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Before and after installation.

Finishing

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Once the frame is covered, Gianmaria passes over each edge by hand, as the material dries out it fixes in place firmly, gentle warming does allow the material to dry quicker.

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Close up inspection reveals a glossy finish that matched the frames original look.

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You really have to look to see the material on the frame. A matte finish is also available for those with non gloss frames.

Conclusion

After watching the application and discussing the material and the results so far from the last few years, Gianmaria revealed that there are only three people globally that he knows of, that currently do this procedure in this way, but they use different materials.

Once the bike has been ridden for a while, the kit will retain its form, colour and look. If you receive rock strikes or scratches or any abrasive movement on the frame, the initial blemish will self heal on the materials surface, if the impact is larger, then the paint underneath will be more protected but always depends on the level of impact. Formula one teams also use this material in specific places to maintain the form of certain surfaces on race cars. The light weight nature of the material means it is a compromise between application, weight and resistivity to wear and tear.  Cost depends on if you buy a kit or you want Gianmaria to apply it himself. Chameleon Skin is also available through specific dealers who have been trained in correct application methods.

We will be running this new protective kit for the next few months and give our feedback on how it fares.  There is certainly no guarantee that the sharpest or pointiest rock is going to be resisted. One fact we like about overall coverage is once the kit is removed there will be no ugly visible discoloration marks from faded paint underneath, Chameleon Skin should give an overall protection that will mean when our testing period is over the frame will retain a close to showroom look. We have seen a few race bikes protected with it at the local bike shops and so far they are all looking great.

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