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Verdict: 
Very effective frame protection stickers that are easy to apply and do the job well
Weight: 
6g

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.

  • Pros: Excellent protection against scratches, easy to place, almost invisible, waterproof, and UV and rip-resistant
  • Cons: Most of the stickers in this set are quite small

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.

> Find your nearest dealer here

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.

Zefal Skin Armor - Sheet of stickers.jpg

To use, you simply unpeel a sticker and place it where you fancy onto a clean bike – it really is that easy.

Performance

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.

Zefal Skin Armor - in place.jpg

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.

Zefal Skin Armor - getting up and personal with a brick wall 2.jpg

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…

Zefal Skin Armor - after the scratch, brick dust still attached.jpg

…a quick wipe of the sticker had it back to new with hardly any sign of battle.

Zefal Skin Armor - after the scratch, after a quick wipe - good as new.jpg

As for the frame underneath – on this part of the bike at least – that's as good as new, too.

Value and conclusion

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.

> How to winterproof your bike

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.

Verdict

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?

From Zefal:

Material: Polyurethane

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"

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well made with nice thick polyurethane.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Really excellent – stood up to an extreme challenge very well.

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

Aside from wall-resistant, the stickers are also UV light-resistant, waterproof and rip-resistant.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
10/10

They weigh next to nothing.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

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.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'0  Weight: 16 stone

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

5 comments

Avatar
hawkinspeter [4096 posts] 1 week ago
6 likes

*cough* helicopter tape *cough*

Avatar
Redvee [468 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

*cough* helicopter tape *cough*

 

My better bike as heli-tape on the chainstay from BB to dropout. When covering it I used a large piece and it looks like there's nothing on the chainstay  1

Avatar
Team EPO [219 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes
Avatar
matthewn5 [1416 posts] 5 days ago
1 like

I go to the motherlode for heli tape:

https://www.vikingtapes.co.uk/collections/helicopter-tapes

They sell direct, but with a minimum order requirement.

Avatar
Rick_Rude [405 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes

The reviewer actually managed to scratch his own bike looking at that.