I’ll be honest, I tend to glaze over when I read the many upon many ‘claims’ made-up by the marketeers of some bike brands and was also somewhat sceptical when initially introduced to the Proteam Hydro Coating Set. They claim your frame will become hydrophobic, that their coating lasts for up to 3 years and they promise ‘No brushing, more cycling!’. That’s the literal translation of Niet poetsen maar fietsen!, that caught my interest. After trialling the Hydro Coating set on my Road and Gravel bikes, did I need to rethink my initial cynicism? Read on to find out.
What exactly is Silicon Dioxide?
It is the chemical name for the combination of a single silicon atom, with two oxygen atoms that forms the SiO2 molecule and is also known as silica. It is widely found in nature and is used extensively in structural materials, in microelectronics as an electrical insulator, as an additive in some processed food products where it is anti-caking agent and as a pharmaceutical additive where is a glidant. In this review we are interested in silica for its use in paint protection.
Because of the inherent characteristics of each of the two elements, when they are combined they form a hard and durable layer that repels water, oil, solvents, dirt and many other damaging influences. In turn this provides the benefit of increasing the lifespan of the surface it is protecting.
Applying the Proteam Hydro Coating onto a bare naked frame
The ProTeam coating can be applied in two primary ways; with the included microfibre pads or with an airbrush. I had a new road bike frame that was about to be built and the direct application method with the microfibre pads was the logical approach for the bare Cinelli Vigorelli frame that I just purchased.
After perusing the instructions, I set up the frame on a stand outdoors (one of the key recommendations), donned the included nitrile gloves and set about cleaning the frame with the ‘Pre-Coat Degreaser’. I let it dry completely and then proceeded to carefully and meticulously apply the ‘Hydro Coating’. Caution! Applying in the outdoors or a very well ventilated space is a must as the solvent used for the Hydro Coating is pretty potent, so do follow the instructions.
I followed the Proteam demo video on youtube which is a really good and simple to guide. When applying on a gloss painted frame, you need to remember where you have already coated as it isn’t readily visible which areas you have covered. Matt frames don’t have this issue as you can see where it has been applied though it is worth being very methodical. Mind you, it’s not that hard, and the frame was completed in about 30 min from start to finish.
Applying the Proteam Hydro Coating on a fully-built bike
My gravel bike, a 2013 GT Xizang with Lefty fork and its retro external cable routing meant that applying the Proteam Hydro Coating via the small pads would be impractical and painful, so I chose to invest in a cheap airbrush to make it a bit easier and trial the other suggested method.
As with the Cinelli frame, I cleaned the bike and set it up in the work stand and again used the Pre-Coat Degreaser to ensure the frame was spotless. I then fired up the airbrush, added in the Hydro Coating and started the process. Once more, the polished titanium frame of the GT meant that the locations I had already coated were not easily visible. Again I just had to be methodical and take care not to miss any key spots. It took slightly longer to complete the full coating process on the already built gravel bike, about 40 minutes.
The $139.90 question
You can purchase from the distributer, Fullbeam Australia directly with the option to buy the required items individually or as a set which suits quite nicely depending whether you are starting from scratch or just need to top-up. There is also a basic set for $86.95 which excludes the microfiber cloths, gloves and shampoo.
My first real-world test was on the newly build road bike as the gravel bike was waiting for the airbrish kit to be delivered. The weather conditions I face were typically just after it had rained or with few light showers which happens to be optimal weather conditions for picking up all of that road detritus. Needless to say, the bike normally gets quite filthy in these conditions with all sorts of muck finding its way onto the frame and staying there… stubbornly.
In damp conditions where there was no extra rain to wash off the crud, a good portion of this debris adhered to the various surfaces of the frame. Meh, this was just as I expected and I was yet to be convinced that the new coating was anything special. I purposely let the gunk build up over a few rides as the real test was firing up the garden hose to reveal whether my initial cynicism was justified or not. After damp-ride number four the bike was almost ready, “this weekend we’ll see how easy it is to clean“.
Except …… something else happened. It rained.
On my next ride to work it was much wetter than anticipated… the type of weather always gives me good lap times as I pedalled furiously to get to work quick and avoid total saturation. Pausing at a red light I glance down and notice that the downtube and Bottom Bracket area that was previously totally dirty was now practically clean. huh?
I noticed that even dried on muck would wash-off easily from spray from the wheels across the wet roads. By the time I was ready for the garden hose, it just needed a gentle rinse with medium pressure and a wipe down with a microfibre cloth. Damn, that was easy.
Over the following months autumn approached and then winter. The pattern of getting dirt and self-cleaning repeated itself over and over. If there was a dry spell and the bike was getting dusty and dirty, a rinse with the hose and the dirt cleaned off easily and the water beaded across the surfaces on the frame! Then airbrush arrived and it was time for the next test… the real test with the gravel bike that is designed for more dirt.
Proteam Coating verses Gravel Bike verses Mud & Clay
The gravel bike routes that I typically rode are a mixed-bag of hard packed clay, sand, dust and heaps of rotting organic matter with conditions traversing from bone dry to wet and slushy. City commuting on the road bike is child-play in comparison and I was looking forward to a real test of the Proteam coatings capabilities.
Again, I let the dirt and grime build up over several rides, and yet again, after one deliciously dirty ride with the bike covered in all sorts of filth, I set off towards home to let it all dry and see how easy it would then all come off. Wouldn’t you know it, on the way back home I hit the bitumen roads where an unexpected short shower yet again cleaned the majority of the bike. If anything, I was disappointed that I didn’t get the joy of using the garden hose, not to mention I was now dirtier than the bike.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. It took a few more rides to build-up grunge and grime and the bike was ready for the hose test. As I had used the airbrush to apply the coating to the frame, I took advantage and sprayed the rims as well. In the past, cleaning the GT Xizang was a task that required a liberal hosing, washing and scrubbing with a decent brush and specialist shampoo and more hose off to rinse it. With the Proteam coating applied, it just needed to be hosed and then finished with the microfibre clothe. The gravel bike was as clean as a whistle and ready for the next muddy adventure.
I am not sure if you expected me to debunk this bike frame protection product, but my marketing cynicism was unfounded and the brand and local distributer will be pleased to have another independent test to confirm this. A small adjustment to my cleaning ritual was also using the ‘Foam & Fix Shampoo’ which was included in the set as I did notice a few spots I had missing in the initial preparation so I could fix these up on the fly.
What you get (in the kit)
The Proteam Hydro Coating Set includes the following:
• Proteam Hydro Coating 15 ml.
• Degreaser 200 ml.
• Shampoo 200 ml.
• 2 microfiber cloths.
• 10 Soft applicators.
• 4 Nitrile Gloves
Is it worth the cost?
At $140, it comes across as expensive and the question you need to ask yourself, “what is the value for me in having bikes that are much easier to keep clean?”
The kit it is probably enough for 5 bikes. As an alternative, the Basic Set for $86.95 could be an option if you have some of the gear already though I wouldn’t skimp on a proper microfibre cloth and the protective gloves.
For anyone following my journey towards a new custom-made Llewellyn bike, this frame protection product means keeping a treasured bike and paint job in pristine condition. True… keeping a bike clean is not rocket science, but with the Proteam Hydro Coating it is much, much easier.
The lifespan is hinted at 2 – 3 years and though I can’t verify this yet, after 8 months it is still working well on both bikes as advertised. The SiO2 component in this coating is not a secret formula or a marketing led wizzbang discovery, rather is fairly well known and widely used. If you want to do “less brushing, more riding”, the bike frame protection solution from Proteam was able to prove itself to me and I think it will do the same for you.
The Proteam Hydro Coating Kit is available from Fulbeam Australia for $139.90 and items are available separately.