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How to Polish Pitted Aluminum

How to Polish Pitted Aluminum

Which Bike Parts Are Made of Aluminum?

Nowadays, there’s quite a competition between aluminum, steel, and carbon when deciding which is the best for bike materials. The first aluminum bikes date back to over 120 years ago. Not as advanced as they are now, this material proved to be -as it still does now- lighter than others, such as steel.

We can find aluminum in different bike parts, frames being the most common one. However, crank arms, forks, brake calipers, stems, and handlebars may also be made out of this material. It provides speed, easy-to-use, and low maintenance advantages.

How Does Pitting Occur?

Pitting is the damaging of a metal surface that takes the form of a pit or crater. Bikes can suffer from pitting, especially in forks. This occurs when the material is damaged. For instance, sometimes a pebble or object on the road could accidentally hit the bike part.

Once a small crack develops, corrosion starts from within. Environmental factors, such as weather and the alloy material used for the bike part, play an important role in determining if this corrosion will eventually happen or not. One important thing to bear in mind, though, is that should it get worse, immediate measures must be taken.

Physical Benefits of Mountain Biking


How to Polish Pitted Aluminum

Once you’ve spotted a pitted area in your bike, you should react to prevent it from developing. Below, we have listed some of the main methods of doing this. While some are quite professional-looking, others that are homemade do a fine job too.

Before polishing the bike part that has pitted, make sure to remove it so that it is separated from the rest of your bike. If you are polishing the frame, you could set it up on a repair stand. Make sure to wear a dust mask and safety goggles

, as aluminum dust could be hazardous.

A good way to polish pitted aluminum is sandblasting it. It is very important to get all the corrosion out as soon as possible. You can use steel wool to finish the process. Be careful not to damage the material more than it has already been.

There are some commercial polishing products that you can use on aluminum. Zephyr, 3M, and Mothers are some of them. Bear in mind that you need to get the correct product type when dealing with pitting.

Another way of getting rid of pitted aluminum is with Scotchbrite pads. If you don’t like your bike to look too shiny, you can pad it to make it duller afterward.

This video shows some methods of polishing pitted aluminum (credits to Kevin Caron, Artist):

Summary

Polishing aluminum bike parts that have pitted is something that you could do at home. Just make sure you have your bike set up on a stand, and take the necessary safety precautions!

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