Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Is there any easier way to clean the surface of aluminum handlebars?

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Is there any easier way to clean the surface of aluminum handlebars?

Old 05-14-20, 03:01 AM
  #1  
CaptainPlanet
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 84
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Is there any easier way to clean the surface of aluminum handlebars?

I was using wd40 and it only removes some gunk, but not tape residues and oxidation and other stuff. Would nailpolish work? Or do I need a degreaser? Should I avoid chemical reactions altogether?

There was a recommendation for goof off sold in homedepot, but man, I have to spend 10 dollars to clean a handlebar? I would have trouble sleeping if I have to do that...

CaptainPlanet is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 03:08 AM
  #2  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 11,621

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 184 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3688 Post(s)
Liked 1,267 Times in 832 Posts
Check dollar stores for Goo Gone. The local Dollar Tree sells small bottles for a buck. More than enough for a handlebar.

Lemon Pledge and some other furniture polishes may work too. They sure get sticky stuff off dining tables.

Acetone and old style nail polish should work. Most nail polish now isn't acetone and while it works on nail polish it wasn't much good on sticky handlebar tape residue.
canklecat is online now  
Likes For canklecat:
Old 05-14-20, 04:58 AM
  #3  
dsbrantjr
Senior Member
 
dsbrantjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Roswell, GA
Posts: 7,546

Bikes: '93 Trek 750, '92 Schwinn Crisscross, '93 Mongoose Alta

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1150 Post(s)
Liked 538 Times in 389 Posts
Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Check dollar stores for Goo Gone. The local Dollar Tree sells small bottles for a buck. More than enough for a handlebar.

Lemon Pledge and some other furniture polishes may work too. They sure get sticky stuff off dining tables.

Acetone and old style nail polish should work. Most nail polish now isn't acetone and while it works on nail polish it wasn't much good on sticky handlebar tape residue.
I believe you intended to recommend nail polish REMOVER.
My first try would be odorless mineral spirits, the petroleum distillate kind, not the milky white water-based substitute.

Last edited by dsbrantjr; 05-14-20 at 05:01 AM.
dsbrantjr is online now  
Likes For dsbrantjr:
Old 05-14-20, 05:54 AM
  #4  
shelbyfv
Banned.
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 7,172
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1810 Post(s)
Liked 1,179 Times in 669 Posts
Any solvent should remove the tape residue. You are probably stuck with the discoloration and scratches unless you want to strip and polish. Original EZ Off oven cleaner has oxalic acid which will strip the coating (anodizing?) Then polish with Nevr Dull or whatever. Edit- no oxalic acid in EZ off.

Last edited by shelbyfv; 05-15-20 at 06:31 AM. Reason: I was wrong....
shelbyfv is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 06:08 AM
  #5  
tlema
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Palmolive Dish washing liquid mixed with water works just fine.
tlema is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 07:01 AM
  #6  
HillRider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 32,253

Bikes: '''96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '12 Surly Pacer, All are 3x8,9 or 10. It is hilly around here!

Mentioned: 36 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1438 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 259 Times in 208 Posts
Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Original EZ Off oven cleaner has oxalic acid which will strip the coating (anodizing?) Then polish with Nevr Dull or whatever.
AFAIK, EZ-Off's active ingredient is sodium hydroxide (lye), not oxalic acid. It will badly corrode aluminum very rapidly and I would avoid it completely.
HillRider is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 07:24 AM
  #7  
JohnDThompson 
Old fart
 
JohnDThompson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Appleton WI
Posts: 21,703

Bikes: Several, mostly not name brands.

Mentioned: 126 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2233 Post(s)
Liked 628 Times in 422 Posts
Originally Posted by tlema View Post
Palmolive Dish washing liquid mixed with water works just fine.
And a Scotch-Brite® pad for the tough spots.
JohnDThompson is online now  
Old 05-14-20, 07:32 AM
  #8  
shelbyfv
Banned.
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 7,172
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1810 Post(s)
Liked 1,179 Times in 669 Posts
Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
AFAIK, EZ-Off's active ingredient is sodium hydroxide (lye), not oxalic acid. It will badly corrode aluminum very rapidly and I would avoid it completely.
You could be right. IIRC I read about it on a bike forum Anyway, I used it once to strip the black off a Shimano RD and it seemed to work OK. I didn't leave it to soak, just monitored it and scrubbed with a toothbrush then rinsed. It left a black film that polished off easily. I may have just been lucky....
shelbyfv is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 10:19 AM
  #9  
FastJake
Constant tinkerer
 
FastJake's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,777
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 81 Post(s)
Liked 35 Times in 29 Posts
How good to you want it to look? The nice thing about aluminum is that you can sand and polish it to look as good or better than new. But I never worry that much about the parts that will get covered with bar tape...
FastJake is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 06:34 PM
  #10  
_ForceD_
Senior Member
 
_ForceD_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 1,388

Bikes: Several...from old junk to new all-carbon.

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 600 Post(s)
Liked 144 Times in 95 Posts
Go to the auto supply store and get some “Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish.” Doesn’t get the tape residue off but works very well on the oxidation. Brings out a nice shine.

https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/...1&gclsrc=aw.ds

Dan
_ForceD_ is offline  
Likes For _ForceD_:
Old 05-14-20, 06:43 PM
  #11  
trailangel
Senior Member
 
trailangel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 4,250

Bikes: Schwinn Varsity

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1575 Post(s)
Liked 293 Times in 186 Posts
Why take it all off? Re-tape the bars and you won't see it.
trailangel is offline  
Likes For trailangel:
Old 05-14-20, 08:58 PM
  #12  
CaptainPlanet
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 84
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Check dollar stores for Goo Gone. The local Dollar Tree sells small bottles for a buck. More than enough for a handlebar.

Lemon Pledge and some other furniture polishes may work too. They sure get sticky stuff off dining tables.
Ah damn it, all 3 dollar stores sold out on it.
Tried acetone nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, wd40 and car wash soap while scrubbing with a tile scrubber, and nothing budged at all.
CaptainPlanet is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 09:04 PM
  #13  
Lemond1985
Sophomore Member
 
Lemond1985's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 2,350
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1422 Post(s)
Liked 763 Times in 478 Posts
Paint the bars black.
Lemond1985 is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 09:29 PM
  #14  
flangehead
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 399

Bikes: 2017 Co-op ADV 1.1; ~1991 Novara Arriba; 1990 Fuji Palisade; mid-90's Moots Tandem

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 173 Post(s)
Liked 227 Times in 132 Posts
For final cleanup


flangehead is offline  
Likes For flangehead:
Old 05-14-20, 09:43 PM
  #15  
Mad Honk 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Bloomington, IN
Posts: 1,064

Bikes: Trek 770, Trek 760, Schwinn Paramount, Patelli Professional, Othon Ochsner

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 449 Post(s)
Liked 336 Times in 256 Posts
Captain Planet,
I had about ten sets of vintage bars that needed cleaning after being in a fire. I found that the stripper for paint worked the best, but would not clean up pitting in the bars. That is one thing I am going to live with. Smiles, MH
Mad Honk is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 09:44 PM
  #16  
Bill in VA
Senior Member
 
Bill in VA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 506

Bikes: Current: 2016 Bianchi Volpe; 1973 Peugeot UO-8. Past: 1974 Fuji with custom black Imron paint by Stinsman Racing of PA.

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 147 Post(s)
Liked 94 Times in 74 Posts
OK, here is my secret weapon for sticky adhesive residue. When you really want it gone, gone, gone...
Coleman Lantern Fluid a/k/a white gas.

WARNING!!! HIGHLY FLAMMABLE and DO NOT BREATHE. USE OUTDOORS AND AWAY FROM FLAME OR SPARKS.

It does not evaporate as quickly as acetone or lacquer thinner.
Then wash the surface with dish detergent or alcohol to give a perfectly clean surface for the bar tape.
It works very well, removes decades old Velox Tressostar bar tape residue and tubular cement, and does not erode the existing polish or anodizing,

Using a scotchbrite pad will scratch the aluminum or anodizing and quickly discolor the alloy with oxidation unless you keep it polished and waxed.
Bill in VA is offline  
Old 05-14-20, 10:10 PM
  #17  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 22,919

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 113 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3472 Post(s)
Liked 939 Times in 583 Posts
Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Any solvent should remove the tape residue. You are probably stuck with the discoloration and scratches unless you want to strip and polish. Original EZ Off oven cleaner has oxalic acid which will strip the coating (anodizing?) Then polish with Nevr Dull or whatever.
Easy-Off oven cleaner doesn’t contain oxalic acid, nor has it ever to my knowledge. It contains sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide breaks down biological material easier without forming dangerous fumes.

It might work but go very easy with it. Aluminum is a reactive metal. It reacts with sodium hydroxide particularly well and can even split the water to form hydrogen (not much, however). It is very good at making aluminum hydroxide which doesn’t make for very good handlebars.

There are a number of aluminum polishes around. Start with a coarse on and work down to the fine ones. On the other hand, most bars are going to be covered in tape so it hardly matters. New tape over the adhesive residue won’t even cause any problems.
__________________
Stuart Black
Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
cyccommute is offline  
Likes For cyccommute:
Old 05-14-20, 11:35 PM
  #18  
3alarmer
Friendship is Magic
 
3alarmer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Tomato
Posts: 18,892

Bikes: old ones

Mentioned: 259 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18539 Post(s)
Liked 2,087 Times in 1,534 Posts
Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Why take it all off? Re-tape the bars and you won't see it.
...+1. But if you really must have it gone for reasons of personal preference, you can buy acetone in the paint department of Home Depot or most hardware and paint stores that will remove it...it's nail polish remover in larger quantity and maybe a little cheaper. You can use one of those 3M green scrubby pads to accelerate the process. Mostly, I don't bother any more. But sometimes I do if I'm using double sided tape under the bar tape to keep it from moving around.
3alarmer is offline  
Old 05-15-20, 08:25 AM
  #19  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 22,919

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 113 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3472 Post(s)
Liked 939 Times in 583 Posts
Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...+1. But if you really must have it gone for reasons of personal preference, you can buy acetone in the paint department of Home Depot or most hardware and paint stores that will remove it...it's nail polish remover in larger quantity and maybe a little cheaper. You can use one of those 3M green scrubby pads to accelerate the process. Mostly, I don't bother any more. But sometimes I do if I'm using double sided tape under the bar tape to keep it from moving around.
Acetone doesn’t work on adhesives. It makes the problem worse in most cases because the adhesive becomes gummy and doesn’t come off. I have an older bottle of Goof Off smells like it is mostly ethyl acetate although the current MSDS says acetone, xylene, ethylbenzene, and methanol. They may have changed the formulation since I bought mine. I do know from personal experience that the acetone is ineffective. The part of the mixture that does the heavy lifting is the xylene and ethylbenzene. Mineral spirits works fairly well but requires more elbow grease than Goof Off does.
__________________
Stuart Black
Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
cyccommute is offline  
Likes For cyccommute:
Old 05-15-20, 10:01 AM
  #20  
3alarmer
Friendship is Magic
 
3alarmer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Tomato
Posts: 18,892

Bikes: old ones

Mentioned: 259 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18539 Post(s)
Liked 2,087 Times in 1,534 Posts
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Acetone doesn’t work on adhesives. It makes the problem worse in most cases because the adhesive becomes gummy and doesn’t come off. I have an older bottle of Goof Off smells like it is mostly ethyl acetate although the current MSDS says acetone, xylene, ethylbenzene, and methanol. They may have changed the formulation since I bought mine. I do know from personal experience that the acetone is ineffective. The part of the mixture that does the heavy lifting is the xylene and ethylbenzene. Mineral spirits works fairly well but requires more elbow grease than Goof Off does.
...thus the 3M scrubby pad. If I had not used it successfully a number of times, I would not be recommending it. Am I going to need to put you on ignore ?
3alarmer is offline  
Old 05-15-20, 01:20 PM
  #21  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 22,919

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 113 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3472 Post(s)
Liked 939 Times in 583 Posts
Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
Am I going to need to put you on ignore ?
Do what you think you need to do.

Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post

...thus the 3M scrubby pad. If I had not used it successfully a number of times, I would not be recommending it. ​​​​​
Why not just use water then. It’s about as effective, less expensive, and less flammable. Mineral spirits or Goof Off will remove it with less effort. All that’s needed is a rag.

But go ahead and make it harder.
__________________
Stuart Black
Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
cyccommute is offline  
Old 05-15-20, 01:35 PM
  #22  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 5,248
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1463 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 508 Times in 299 Posts
What's the point of those bars? Steer with your feet?
woodcraft is offline  
Likes For woodcraft:
Old 05-15-20, 09:42 PM
  #23  
3alarmer
Friendship is Magic
 
3alarmer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Tomato
Posts: 18,892

Bikes: old ones

Mentioned: 259 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18539 Post(s)
Liked 2,087 Times in 1,534 Posts
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Do what you think you need to do.
This message is hidden because cyccommute is on your ignore list.

....thank you, Stewart.
3alarmer is offline  
Old 05-15-20, 10:46 PM
  #24  
Slightspeed
Senior Member
 
Slightspeed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 2,162

Bikes: 1964 Legnano Roma Olympiade, 1973 Raleigh Super Course, 1978 Raleigh Super Course, 1978 Peugeot PR10, 2002 Specialized Allez, 2007 Specialized Roubaix, 2013 Culprit Croz Blade

Mentioned: 63 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 709 Post(s)
Liked 618 Times in 339 Posts
I had deep scratches on aluminum bars after a stem change. Wadded aluminum foil and Turtlewax Chrome polish did wonders. Shiny and good as new. The part under where the new tape goes isn't worth cleaning. Concentrate on the exposed shiny parts where there will be no tape.
Slightspeed is offline  
Old 05-16-20, 01:03 AM
  #25  
CaptainPlanet
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 84
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
I am tempted to use steel wool, but I am afraid if I will be doing something stupid, go for it or no?
CaptainPlanet is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.