Mountain biking is hard on both the body and bike, and accidents happen to even the most experienced riders among us. Whether you are a weekend rider, encouraged by riding pals or an aspiring racer trying hard to be the fastest on the day, pushing your own limits is part of the game. As riders, we protect our heads with the best mountain bike helmets, and limbs with the best mountain bike knee pads and elbow protection so why not install some MTB frame protection to your bike, too?
The frame is the backbone of your bike and, as such, can cost anything from a few hundred, up to many thousands. It is not only a good idea to protect it from crash damage but also to keep it looking fresher for longer. After all, a bike covered in scratches and paint chips is not a very pretty picture.
These days, riders go to great lengths to remove any need for carrying tools and paraphernalia on their person, which means strapping all kinds of items to your frame. Gear such as spare tubes, not to mention bikepacking equipment will act like sandpaper against your frame on certain surfaces Another frame killer is cable and brake hose rub. Then there are the trailside assassins - rocks and stones that flick up into the downtube.
If it is not rock strikes, crashes, and cables trying to wear through your frame then having your bike loaded continually on and off a chair lift or bike rack could contribute to the wear of your pride and joy. It's a tough environment.
MTB frame protection is the key to ensuring your bike stays looking newer for longer - so if you're looking to protect your investment for when the time comes to sell or you merely want to keep your dream machine looking great for years to come you should consider frame protection.
Scroll down to view our list of the best MTB frame protection kits currently available.
Best MTB frame protection kits
The UK brand has been in the game a while now. It offers complete kits that will cover almost every piece of your frame for the ultimate protection. The kits use high-grade automotive polyurethane film that is applied wet and adjusted by floating the film on water. Once you have settled on the correct positioning, a scraper is used to force the moisture out.
Films are available in gloss and matt to match your frame finish. The invisiFRAME product won't go yellow over time and it has magical self-healing properties to ensure it stays invisible. Impressively, the kits come in over 40,000 individual options so the chances are they will have a kit to fit your frame model and size.
Furthermore, there are kits available to protect your components that are most likely to take a hammering such as crank arms and fork lowers. With an impressive array of models covered you are almost certain to enable to protect the majority of your pride and joy.
Founded in Madrid in 2015 by the stylish Pro Enduro racer and EWS crowd favorite Iago Garay, Dyedbro has kits that add some attitude to your ride. They are designed to protect the high-wear areas of your bike such as the top tube and down tube of the front triangle, seat stays, and chainstays. You can visit the website for inspiration or select custom color options to really make your frame stand out further from the crowd.
Dyedbro also supplies a clear two-piece universal fork kit and a clear crankarm kit that is pre-cut for the three major sizes (165, 170, and 175mm). Both the component kits are made from the same hard-wearing film as the Dyedbro frame kits. Dyedbro products use eco-friendly inks and recyclable packaging with a commendable planet-conscious approach.
The Canadian brand RideWrap makes full MTB frame protection kits that are tailored for specific size and models of bike and comes with all the required tooling to install the film. The next level down is the generic kits that protect the high-wear areas such as the top tube and down tube (protecting against rock strikes) and the seat and chainstays from chain slap. As the name suggests, the essential frame kit is generic and covers the bare necessities with patches of film and is the most wallet friendly kit option. RideWrap also produces single patches of film for areas like shuttle guards on the underside of your downtube for the days when you put your bike over the tailgate of a shuttle truck and also chainstay protectors.
To install the film you have to wet the products before they are applied. This allows you to maneuver them perfectly into the desired place. For the ultimate peace of mind, RideWrap uses a 9mm thick film that is developed and tested in the rigorous conditions of its backyard at Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
AMS is a two-person operation out of Barcelona that makes universal protection products. The chevron design helps to ensure an easy application to fit any bike frame. The brand offers basic essential kits through to universal kits that cover toptube, downtube, seat tube, and seat and chainstays. The semi-rigid PVC honeycomb kits come in clear or colors and with pattern designs that include Maori and camo.
The brand offers protection at different price points, so there is no reason for your bike to miss out whatever your budget. The universal kits are available in four different grades of protection: from the entry-level ‘Basic’ kits through to more comprehensive ‘Total’ package options that wrap around more of the frame. It also includes a film for the fork lowers. The AMS Extra and Full guard kits fill the middle of the range, and there's also a slimmed-down version for the gravel bike crowd.
To complement the brand's frame protection, All Mountain Style also makes generic kits to guard against damage to fork lowers, protection from foot rub on crank arms, and, uniquely, a film kit for both 31.8mm and 35mm handlebars.
Originally designed to protect helicopter blades, Heli tape is now used in a multitude of industries from car and aviation to bikes. The 8mm thick film comes on a roll in a wide variety of sizes and is affordable. You can add protection to as much or as little as you want and it can be used to protect every bike in your quiver.
The 8mil thick, optically clear and extremely tough urethane film will protect paint of the most expensive performance and luxury cars against high-speed stone chips - so it is more than a match for our mountain bikes despite the tough environment and all the thrashing they are likely to receive.
It can be supplied on a roll in a wide variety of sizes and is affordable. It is offered in both matt and gloss finishes to match your frame’s paint. Installation requires the use of a spray solution to slide into the desired position and then applying pressure with a squeegee before using a heat gun to slowly warm and ensure adhesion. You can add protection to as much or as little of your frame as you want and it can be used to affordably protect every bike in your quiver.
MTB frame protection: everything you need to know
What is mountain bike frame protection?
Frame protection is a material added to your bike frame to offer a barrier against knocks from debris, or other components such as your chain and rub from your shoes. Some manufacturers now supply bikes with well-thought-out designs incorporating chainstay protectors or Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) fitted to the downtube and bottom bracket areas straight from the factory.
Aftermarket options are usually an adhesive plastic film applied to the surface of the frame. These films or “vinyls” are made from either Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or Polyurethane.
How do I protect my MTB frame?
These days there are kits you can buy that are virtually invisible once installed for a subtle approach or some options give you the choice to customize by adding some color to your frame. The more comprehensive and expensive kits cover the majority of the frame. Others cover just the select high-risk areas such as the downtube and top tube.
The kits are DIY in nature and can be applied at home with good results. You will need a clean environment with some patience and a few dedicated hours. You can also just ask your local bike shop to install the kit for you. Whichever kit you choose to safeguard your bike frame, you will need to ensure the frame is clean and free of mud, dust and debris. We suggest using an isopropyl wipe to rid the surface of any grease or oil contaminants from manufacturing and assembly before you start to ensure the best results and to increase the chance of the film sticking and lasting.