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Old 02-11-10, 01:06 PM   #1
20grit
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Chrome vs. Paint

So the question has come up among my co-workers as I've talked about chrome bikes regarding weight.

I've assumed that the chrome on a bike is able to be applied much thinner than paint and clear coat. Is there a difference in the weight between the two?

(i know that some bikes where fully chromed, then painted underneath. some high end bikes are done this way. so i'm assuming the weight isn't a problem.)

I mostly ask this to settle the argument going on in my office.
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Old 02-11-10, 01:12 PM   #2
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Chromed bikes are heavier.
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Old 02-11-10, 01:16 PM   #3
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...but the difference is negligible compared to just about anything else.
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Old 02-11-10, 01:28 PM   #4
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in my head the sheer volume of paint required for the finish might add up enough to equal the weight of the thinner coating of chrome.

I know when i've finished guitars the weight seems to double.
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Old 02-11-10, 02:17 PM   #5
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Richard Schwinn, in his Paramount history section of the Waterford website, says this about chrome plated frame weight:

"During the 60's, Schwinn began chroming the dropout and fork tips of all road Paramounts. For an extra charge, riders could order a fully chrome plated Paramount. Plating wasn't favored by the racers since plated bikes weighed more than painted bikes."
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Old 02-11-10, 02:26 PM   #6
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surface area x density of plating material(s) x thickness of plating
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Old 02-11-10, 04:40 PM   #7
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in my head the sheer volume of paint required for the finish might add up enough to equal the weight of the thinner coating of chrome.
Don't forget the copper plating under the chrome.
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Old 02-11-10, 05:12 PM   #8
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(i know that some bikes where fully chromed, then painted underneath. some high end bikes are done this way.
You must have mis-typed here. The paint goes over the plated layers, not "underneath".
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Old 02-11-10, 07:10 PM   #9
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yes. typo near the end of work. hopefully it's excusable.
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Old 02-11-10, 07:19 PM   #10
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The layers are so thin that the overall weight increase is negligable.
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Old 02-11-10, 08:04 PM   #11
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OK, line up two identical bikes, one painted, one chrome.

Get two riders who weigh identical amounts, and put one on each bike.

Tell the one on the painted bike to spit.

Now they weigh the same.
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Old 02-11-10, 09:35 PM   #12
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The person riding the bike that is totally chromed, and then painted is going to win, just for the psych factor of having the “deluxe” finish. It's like wearing Yankees pinstripes. My lightest bike frame is fully chromed and then main triangle and head tube painted. Chrome is, it must be said, an environmental scourge.
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Old 02-11-10, 10:02 PM   #13
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I think chrome plated bike is faster because chrome is more aerodynamic!
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Old 02-11-10, 10:14 PM   #14
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By my guesstimation the chrome plating weighs on the order of one ounce.
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Old 02-12-10, 04:33 AM   #15
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Weight weenies!
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Old 02-12-10, 04:45 AM   #16
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Chrome is lighter than most paint, excepting white maybe.
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Old 02-12-10, 06:45 AM   #17
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Chrome is lighter than most paint, excepting white maybe.
Dam, half my bikes are white. I'm screwed.
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Old 02-12-10, 08:57 AM   #18
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Regardless of the weight issue, the real problem with chrome is hydrogen embrittlement, if not done properly. It's not the sort of thing you want on a thin walled tube.
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Old 02-12-10, 09:14 AM   #19
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Dam, half my bikes are white. I'm screwed.
Spit twice, you'll be even.
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Old 02-12-10, 11:25 AM   #20
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You know this is why so many times just the lugs were chromed. Engineers can't come to a decision.
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Old 02-12-10, 11:41 AM   #21
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Regardless of the weight issue, the real problem with chrome is hydrogen embrittlement, if not done properly. It's not the sort of thing you want on a thin walled tube.
Didn't the Falcon forks have a problem with that, or was it something else?
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Old 02-12-10, 01:00 PM   #22
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Didn't the Falcon forks have a problem with that, or was it something else?
Well, I did have a buddy who broke his Falcon in the middle of the down tube and it was completely chromed. In my experience, most frame failures, outside of abuse, involve chrome plating. Hydrogen embrittlement can be relieved by baking but it's a bit of a black art. There's disagreement over the temperature, duration and how quickly it should be implemented after plating. I was involved in Quality Engineering for some military contracts and even the military specs weren't convinced it completely alleviated the problem. It's just the sort of thing that can cause serious batch problems in a poorly controlled manufacturing environment. Given the amount of chrome plating on vintage bicycles and the differences in opinion over the baking control, I 'd be surprised if there was a vintage brand that hadn't experienced hydrogen embrittlement failures.
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Old 02-12-10, 02:17 PM   #23
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You know this is why so many times just the lugs were chromed. Engineers can't come to a decision.

Back off, sucka! I resemble that remark!

The decision was made a long time ago - paint is the way to go.
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Old 02-12-10, 02:34 PM   #24
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I don't think I've ever heard of a chrome fork failure.
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Old 02-12-10, 02:56 PM   #25
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Back off, sucka! I resemble that remark!

The decision was made a long time ago - paint is the way to go.
See.... that's the problem with you engineers. Taking the easy way out. Us architects want a pretty chrome bike. A good engineer would've found a solution by now. (I say this in jest, I could've/should've been an engineer. i didn't like homework. have no problems with engineers. do however like chrome bikes.)
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