Friday, 22 June 2012

Staff Bikes Workshop - Wheel Polishing

Most people buy polishing kits to do up all the shiny bits on their custom rides – as soon as Wemoto got these in to stock I grabbed one to sort out my Aprilia Pegaso '97 wheels.


I can blame some of this on the previous owner, but a combination of age, mud, the salty Southwick air certainly contributes to the state of this sorry looking wheel.
Here's a front wheel I prepared earlier, so you can see the difference.

The wheels are one of the first thing I look for on a bike – they can indicate what the bike has been through, whether the chain has been oiled, how much care has been taken of the machine. If the owner keeps the wheels in ship shape there's a good chance the rest of the machine is the same.

Before I begin...

On a half decent wheel, it can take about 2 hours to get it to a good shine.
...My wheel isn't a half decent wheel, and the severe pitting required a good few hours of sanding and preparation, totalling about 7 hours over the course of a few days.

A good space to work in is a must, as is a suitable work bench. After discovering that my garage floor does not count as 'suitable work bench' from doing the front wheel (does anyone know a good chiropractor? ) I invaded a friend's to borrow theirs.
The polishing kit itself attached to a tool capable of 1800-2200RPM as well – I borrowed a friends here too.


Rear wheel removed - a good opportunity to check all the bearings, cush drives, suspension bits etc while you're there. Taking the tyre off helps, but some tubeless tyres are so difficult it's not worth it.

Barely pitted at all. This will be a cakewalk. Ahem.

An electric sander makes this a lot easier. Unfortunately, my electric sander was a bit poor, and I ended up chucking it and doing it by hand.
60, 240, 400, 600, 800 and 1200 grade sandpaper. The 1200 isn't strictly necessary as the mops in the polishing kit will do the trick.
At some point you'll hit "the wall" - that horrible point where you think you can't do it anymore, but you've come too far to quit now.

A considerable amount of elbow grease and patience later, it's all worth it:

One rough sanded wheel, ready for polishing
Not quite a mirror finish yet - will be when I'm done.
It was slightly too much work to sand between each and every spoke too, so I decided to cheat and repaint them instead.

The masking is actually more tricky than the painting

The paint actually adheres better to a slightly rough surface than a polished one, so it's better to do the painting before the polishing.

While that's drying, it's time to take a break, or do other bits on the bike. Then it's time for the polishing!

Polishing Kit

Now for the finish.
Requires one polishing kit from Wemoto, and one powertool capable of 1800-2200 rpm.
All components of the polishing kit
The kit itself is simple, but complete. With two grades of polishing compound, several mops of different grades and sizes, and some detailed, useful instructions.
Ominous shadow is not included.
Compared to the sanding, the polishing is a walk in the park, although it still requires a good amount of time (two hours or so) to do well.

Getting used to how much compound, and how much pressure to apply takes some trial and error.

But for an almost mirror finish, it's worth it in the end.

End Result

A beautiful, mirror shine.

Bike: Aprilia Pegaso 650
Parts/Tools used: Polishing Kit for wheels, sandpaper, electric drill

1 comment:

  1. The bike’s tires absolutely need some polishing. This needs patience, time, and hard work to totally restore its new and sparkling look. You must’ve gotten your strength to the limit to have it polished. Good thing you have a complete set of polishing kit for this project.

    >Jeanette West