Clear Taping Cranks

As my Transition TR450 parts are slowly coming together, I thought it was time to start clear taping my bike.

Everyone has a different name for clear tape – helitape, surface guard, clear film, clear bra – but regardless of its name, it’s really useful stuff. I have used the 3M Scotchgard Paint Protection Film for the last two years and it’s worked great for me.

3M Scotchgard Clear Paint Protection Film

3M Scotchgard Clear Paint Protection Film

I’m running the new Truvativ Descendant cranks for 2011. While I’m confident that the cranks themselves will be strong enough for a rider like myself, I’m not convinced that their finish will remain in tact for very long, especially after the finish of my Truvativ Holzfeller cranks has begun to wear significantly after only 5 days of riding on them.


Truvativ and Shimano cranks are notorious for their finish wearing off because of the convex face on their outer surface – those of you with “polished” (worn) Shimano Saint cranks take note!

2011 Truvativ Descendant Crank

2011 Truvativ Descendant Crank without clear tape

The solution? Clear tape your cranks! Clear taping your cranks will minimise the wear and tear that your cranks are subject to. Even if you’re not interested in the aesthetics of your bike, it should help to keep the resale value of your cranks that little bit higher once you’re done with them.

Here’s a quick walk through of how I clear taped my Truvativ Descendant cranks:

  1. Measure the amount of clear tape that you will need for each crank. For those with Descendants, I found that 45x130mm (around 1.75×5.1 inches) worked perfectly .
  2. Cut the clear tape and backing. Make sure you use either a sharp pair of scissors or a sharp Stanley (utility) knife to make the cuts. You don’t want a blunt cut.
  3. Fill a container with some warm water and a little detergent. One or two drops should be enough.
  4. Clean the crank surface, ideally with an isopropyl alcohol.
  5. Heat the crank and tape if at all possible. A hair dryer is very handy in this situation, just don’t overheat the tape. You just want to make it pliable.
  6. Wet the crank surface, then peel the backing paper off of the film.
  7. Apply the film to the crank, taking your time to make sure that everything lines up. Thanks to the detergent mix you have plenty of time, so use it.
  8. When the film is in the right place, begin to push the bubbles out. Work from the inside out – on the cranks I “sealed” the entire length of the crank first and then pushed the bubbles outwards towards the side of the crank, wrapping the tape over the edge of the cranks as I went.
  9. If there is a heap of water on the cranks at this stage and they are unbearable to work with, hit them with the hair dryer again. Make sure not to get too close though otherwise you will melt the tape.
  10. If there are any leftover air bubbles, try to push them out, otherwise find a needle and pop them as best you can. Thankfully cranks are an easy surface to work with so you most likely won’t have any bubbles left over.
Clear Tape Detergent Solution

Clear Tape Detergent Solution

It’s quite a simple job, it just takes patience and some preparation to do it well and easily. I’d say if you haven’t taped anything before to give yourself an hour to get the job done.

So there you have it, that is how to apply a clear film to a pair of cranks.

Truvativ Descendant cranks after clear tape skin application

Finished Product: Truvativ Descendant cranks after clear tape application