Zefal's Skin Armor S is a straightforward set of clear protective stickers made from reasonably thick polyurethane. They are easy to apply and do their job well to offer very impressive protection. Although with this small set the selection you receive is limited, you can get medium (£11.99) and large (£17.99) sets.
Back in the mists of time, when I was a young man and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I took possession of a brand new Dawes Galaxy touring bike. One of the novel features about this particular bike's fantastic British Racing Green frame was that Dawes had started employing a scratch-proof finish, so there was no way it could suffer a surface wound. Needless to say, on my first ride out, I leant it against a lamppost outside a corner shop, the bike slid slightly, and it suffered a scrape that is still visible to this day.
Twenty-five years later, we have arguably a better weapon in the war against scuffs and scratches. Zefal's Skin Armor is a sheet of 'invisible scratch-resistance frame protection' polyurethane stickers that can be placed at likely rubbing or scuff points.
On the single sheet you are provided with seven stickers: one long clear protective sticker for the chainstay, two small-to-medium sized stickers, and four even smaller stickers.
To use, you simply unpeel a sticker and place it where you fancy onto a clean bike – it really is that easy.
On the front of the packaging you will see Zefal has handily included a diagram of suggested sticker placement points. Obviously, the head tube is a prime spot for cable rubbing while the chainstays are another old favourite (although new bikes tend to come with some protection already fitted). If you regularly carry your bike on a car cycle carrier or lock it up at a municipal rack, you may already have an idea of other damage areas. Once you've identified your preferred placement points, the stickers stick well and are effectively invisible. At 250 microns thick, they should put up a fight, too.
To put the Skin Armor to its ultimate test, I used a slightly tired bike that had already been in a few wars. Once I had fitted a Skin Armor sticker, I then made a concerted attempt to damage the frame finish by repeatedly introducing it to the sharp end of a brick wall.
Despite this approach being rather more extreme than you would suffer in typical daily rubbing situations – and it even ended up with brick dust left on the Skin Armor…
…a quick wipe of the sticker had it back to new with hardly any sign of battle.
As for the frame underneath – on this part of the bike at least – that's as good as new, too.
There are a fair few alternatives out there, with Evans having a similar sticker set for £7.99, Lifeline's Frame Protection Patch Kit costing just £5.49 for a wider selection of stickers, and Bike Shield having a range of options, albeit at higher prices. But I think in overall value for money and performance terms, this Skin Armor choice is pretty decent. You could argue a few more bigger stickers wouldn't go amiss, although for this you could buy the more expansive Skin Armor M or Skin Armor L packs.
Of course, sod's law is that the one section you don't place a Skin Armor sticker is the area where you'll have an unexpected extreme rubbing episode. But, as mother always said, you can only try your best. And Zefal's Skin Armor, for the money, is very good. Pick the right spots to protect on your pride and joy and you will have stacked the odds at least a little more in your favour.
Very effective frame protection stickers that are easy to apply and do the job well
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal Skin Armor S
Size tested: 252x25mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A small protective sticker selection aimed at pretty much any cyclist.
Zefal says: "Made in polyurethane, the Skin Armor S is a high-resistance frame-protection against impacts and scratches. Easy to install with a powerful adhesive, it resists to ripping, UV light and temperature fluctuations."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Number of patches: 7
Thickness: 250 microns
Composition: 1 chainstay protection: 252 x 25 mm / 9.92" x 0.98" 4 patches 25 x 35 mm / 0.98" x 1.37" 2 patches 25 x 45 mm / 0.98" x 1.77"
Very well made with nice thick polyurethane.
Really excellent – stood up to an extreme challenge very well.
Aside from wall-resistant, the stickers are also UV light-resistant, waterproof and rip-resistant.
They weigh next to nothing.
Lifeline's Frame Protection Patch Kit costs £5.49 for a wider selection of stickers; Evans Cycles has a similar sticker set for £7.99; and Bike Shield has a range of options, albeit at higher prices. So overall, decent value, although I'd be happy to pay more for one of the larger sticker selections.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Skin Armor stood up to scratching and rubbing very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to apply.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly small selection and slightly small individual stickers – but bigger sets are available.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Although they are very simple products in theory, protective frame stickers are also a product that is easy to get wrong. With nice, thick polyurethane and an easy-to-apply nature, Zefal's Skin Armor is pretty much faultless.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure