Almost as soon as last week’s Tech Talk on Basic Carbon Bicycle Care Tips went live, I received a related question from a New Hampshire roadie named David. It made me realize there was one more important aspect to cover for many of today’s carbon wonders. I’m providing that Q & A first. And then I’ll tell you about an interesting new product.
Dave Asked a Great Question
“I’m wondering if you have any advice on cleaning and maintaining matte paint on a carbon fiber bike? I recently got a Bianchi Specialissima with a really nice Celeste matte finish. It looks great, but every bit of dirt and even fingerprints show up and seem tough to clean. I’m using Windex and a little orange cleaner for tougher spots. I would like to keep the finish as it came and not polish it. I already contacted Bianchi customer support directly but got no response at all. So I hope you have some tips.”
My Researched Reply
That’s a great question, Dave, because matte finishes (sometimes called “satin”) are all the rage today. And, also, since in last week’s Tech Talk I mentioned that furniture spray polishes like Lemon Pledge are great for quickly cleaning and polishing painted carbon.
But, I was not thinking of matte and satin carbon finishes. You don’t actually want to shine them up like a gloss paint job. You want to clean and preserve the flat matte look.
Like you, I tried to find an answer online at bicycle company websites and came up empty-handed. And I don’t own a matte finish carbon bicycle to experiment on. However, because these matte finishes are as popular on cars as bicycles, I decided to look there. Due to the cost of cars being so much higher, that industry is usually a little ahead in the way of cleaners and polishes.
I found this YouTube video that describes how to clean a matte finish from a company called DRx Beasley, that makes a cleaner/polish.
They say to use only microfiber cloths and to never scrub but to wipe. And they recommend products to spray on to clean and seal the finish. It looks like they make a whole range just for matte paint cleaning and finishing. But the prices are pretty high, in my opinion.
So I also searched on Amazon for favorably reviewed products, and I found something more affordable that cleans and seals: It’s Chemical Guys Meticulous Matte Detailer and Spray Sealant. Price shown for the 16-ounce spray is $10.67.
Like with any cleaner and/or sealer, you’ll want to follow all instructions and try it on a small hidden part of your bike and see how it does before cleaning the rest of it. But from what I read I believe this will work well.
If you try it and like it, please let us know. And, readers, if you know of a good bicycle cleaner for matte finishes, please let everyone know in the Comments below the Newsletter version of this article.
Cool new product, the Shoka Bell
I prefer to actually try new products before mentioning them, but one feature on the Shoka Bell is so interesting to me, and possibly game-changing, that I wanted to share this noisemaker-and-more.
Note, that I haven’t seen this product in person, or tried it. It has been fully funded on Kickstarter and will be shipping to backers in Spring 2017. Their “expected” retail price is $159. Yes, that’s a lot for a bell, but ringing is not all Shoka does.
What I find so intriguing about the Shoka is its ability to track and share other Shoka users’ braking and bell use in order to record them, and then use the data to let you know how to avoid potential dangerous intersections and situations.
Every time a Shoka Bell is rung, it’s shared with the Shoka community and collectively users will warn other cyclists of dangerous junctions and difficult routes. Shoka alerts you to upcoming problem areas with a series of 72 bright LEDs on the top. And it always chooses the safest route. With the Shoka app on your cellphone, simply enter the destination in the app and Shoka guides you turn-by-turn directions using clear arrow signals.
Used as a bell, it boasts a small thumb-operated joystick allowing you to select from 8 different sounds to choose the one appropriate for the situation. Volume goes up to 105 decibels. Shoka says that the unique sounds get more attention than the standard dings and chimes of bike bells.
Shoka also features a front light designed specifically for the city with 8 front-facing LEDs that are bright enough to get you noticed while not blinding other cyclists or drivers. The light is adaptive to the time of day. It flashes faster at night and is brighter in the day to ensure you are seen even in sunlight.
What’s more, the Shoka’s handlebar clamp has a motion detector built in. Should anyone move your bicycle the bell will ring and light up, and also alert you wirelessly up to 250 meters away. Power is provided for over 200 hours by the internal LiPo rechargeable battery. And the bell is magnetically attached to the clamp for easy on/off.
Check out the Shoka Kickstarter page to watch the video and decide if this smart bell fits your cycling lifestyle. If it works as promised, it could be a great upgrade for your city cycling.
Sidenote: Part of the reason the Shoka bell impressed me is because I recently watched an interview with renowned Specialized Bicycles product designer Robert Egger, who was talking about a slightly similar feature on one of his concept bicycles.
Robert’s idea for a built-in safety device was for one that actually communicates with the motor vehicles sharing the road. Wouldn’t it be cool if your bike could alert the driver next to you that he was too close and needed to move over?!
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.