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Colorado Kid 04-10-14 05:16 PM

Does Chrome Prevent Rust?
I'm looking at the Mercier Kilo TT bike (Save up to 60% off new Mercier Singlespeed Track Bikes - Kilo TT Special Chrome Edition) and I would like to know if the Chrome prevents Rust from appearing on the frame or traps it underneath the coating.

NOS88 04-10-14 05:30 PM

Chrome is just one of several metals that will oxidize "rust". Iron, copper aluminum, etc. will also rust.

Andy_K 04-10-14 05:43 PM

I wouldn't say it will prevent rust, but if you take reasonable care of it you shouldn't have a problem. As anecdotal evidence, I refer you to the chrome handlebars in this box of parts:

but cross reference the chrome plated fork end on the frame from the same bike that those parts were on:

This bike was kept in an Oregon barn for about 30 years before I came to own it. I was able to break the chain with my bare hands it was so rusty. This is the extreme end of what will happen if you do absolutely nothing to take care of the bike.

On the other hand, if you keep it in a dry place and maybe wipe it down once in a while, it should be fine. Even with 30 years of complete neglect the frame above was structurally sound. I was even able to get most of the rust off of the handlebars, though they showed significant pock marks.

zacster 04-10-14 05:52 PM

My bike with the chrome lugs and fork crown doesn't have any chrome anymore. It all rusted off after 30 or so years.

awfulwaffle 04-10-14 05:56 PM

But what it will do is protect the material underneath it from corrosion for some time.

tsl 04-10-14 06:13 PM


Originally Posted by awfulwaffle (Post 16660251)
But what it will do is protect the material underneath it from corrosion for some time.

But only from one direction. You forget about moisture that collects inside the tubes.

awfulwaffle 04-10-14 06:15 PM


Originally Posted by tsl (Post 16660287)
But only from one direction. You forget about moisture that collects inside the tubes.

Fair enough, though I make it a point to drain and dry my frame whenever I fall in a river :p (true story)

old's'cool 04-10-14 06:17 PM

Think of chrome as a somewhat fragile coating for ferrous metal. As long as it is intact, it will protect the base metal from corrosion. But once there is a breach in the coating, corrosion of the ferrous metal will ensue, rapidly, under the right conditions. The problem is that chromium, not to mention the intermediate coatings between it and the parent ferrous material, is higher on the galvanic scale than iron, so once there is an electrical path between the iron and the other metals (because of a scratch or a pit, along with moisture or humidity, facilitating a path for ion transfer), the other metals will rob the iron of electrons, resulting in accelerated rusting of the iron.

alan s 04-10-14 06:52 PM

Chrome powder coating would last longer and protect the frame better, but wouldn't be quite as shiny as real chrome.

FBinNY 04-10-14 08:18 PM

Properly done chrome plating is an excellent rust preventative. Think back to all those chrome plated car bumpers of the fifties and sixties, and all the chrome plated marine parts used on boats and ships, no t to mention the chrome plated tools in your tool box.

However, it's not 100% impervious to oxygen which can slip past and attack the steel underneath. So without any help, chrome greatly slows the rust process, but doesn't prevent rust altogether. However with some help in the form of periodic cleaning and applying an oil or wax film, chrome can totally prevent rust and stay shiny forever.

As I said it depends on how well the plating job is done, but once glance at all the chrome parts, - bars, stems, seat posts and cranks - on older bikes that's still in good shape after decades should convince anyone that chrome does indeed prevent rust.

Reynolds 04-10-14 09:56 PM

^^ Beat me to it. My '80 DL-1 chromed handlebar, hubs, cranks, brake rods, etc. still look as new after many rains, while some much newer chromed parts in other bikes are orange/red with rust.

tsl 04-11-14 12:50 AM


Originally Posted by FBinNY (Post 16660646)
Think back to all those chrome plated car bumpers of the fifties and sixties

Not sure how it was downstate, but being from Upstate, that's exactly what I think of when I think of something chrome and rusty--car bumpers from when I was growing up. Around here, chrome bumpers didn't last any longer than the rest of the car--three years tops.

The introduction of stainless and plastic-covered bumpers in the 70s was seen here as a godsend. As was the use of galvanized in the rest of the car in the 80s. I remember when you had to take a magnet with you when shopping for a used car to determine how much Bondo was in it.

ronocnikral 04-11-14 06:42 AM

I know no one probably cares, but outside of blingy bicycles and bicycle parts, chrome can be added as apart of the steel concoction. While the chrome itself doesn't change the physical properties of steel, nor prevent the oxidation process, it can help with other forms of corrosion. Corrosion from CO2 being one of them.

In terms of bicycle frames themselves, I'll take a nice paint job over chrome plating any day of the week.

WestPablo 04-11-14 09:14 AM

Like Steel, Chrome will absolutely NOT rust, if kept dry! :D

fietsbob 04-11-14 10:09 AM

follow on from FB,

A good chrome job is actually electro plated with 3 different metals ... Copper , then Nickel, then Chromium ..

want non rusting/'oxidizing metal? Titanium is your way to go ..
just dont try to weld it without purging the O2 away, with an Inert Gas flow , till it cools .

jfowler85 04-11-14 03:01 PM


Originally Posted by old's'cool (Post 16660298)
Think of chrome as a somewhat fragile coating for ferrous metal.

Chromium is generally applied over a nickel deposit, which a variety of materials can readily accpet, including plastic.

fietsbob 04-11-14 03:10 PM

things on the moon probably dont rust, minus an atmosphere. Oxygen or anything ..

lhbernhardt 04-11-14 03:29 PM

My understanding is that on old steel frames with chrome plating, the chrome is OK, but the metal underneath gets eaten away by rust. Old chrome tends to look ratty when it starts to get pitted.

For a while, back in the 70's/80's, it was common to chrome-plate Italian frames before painting. Where the paint chips away, there is chrome underneath. It makes for a hard & smooth surface, so using it on rear dropouts was not such a good idea, as the hubs would slip in the dropouts (unless there were adjustment screws of tugs to support the axles).


Secret Squirrel 04-11-14 04:07 PM

base metal + (nickle)+bright nickle+ chrome. The chrome could be considered the "clear coat" over the bright nickle. The chrome plating is hard and can be removed to expose the nickle under it. Older types of abrasive chrome cleaners exposed the nickle underneath and covered the shiny nickle with automotive wax. Corrosion of the base ferrous metal is usually red rust that bleeds through the micro-porous chrome coating or between the micro-fractured chrome cells.
sorry about the wordy explanation.

old's'cool 04-11-14 04:20 PM


Originally Posted by jfowler85 (Post 16662766)

Chromium is generally applied over [another metal]...

Elsewhere in my post I covered that, so, yeah, I agree.

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