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How to Remove Rust on Chrome Bicycle Components?

Bikes are typically something that you find easy to neglect. This isn’t intentional but I’m sure many of you reading this don’t give your bikes the optimal maintenance and servicing that they require.

It’s easy to lock them away after use and simply forget to give them some TLC before you use them again. This can therefore lead to some issues over time and one common problem that people have with bikes that they use in all weathers is they start to rust.

A common question we come across in relation to this is how can you remove rust from chrome bicycle components?

Rust removal on chrome bicycle components is a relatively straightforward process. All you need is an abrasive material (like aluminum foil or steel wool), something to lubricate it (water, an oil like WD-40 or polish), and then a cloth and polish to finish. Simply lubricate the steel wool or choice of material and lightly scrub away the rust.

Rust is one of the most irritating things to have to deal with, mainly because it doesn’t cause much issue in terms of functionality (depending on where it is, a rusty chain is of course an issue) but it’s just very unsightly and completely ruins the aesthetic of your bike.

In this article, we cover some of the easiest and most efficient methods for removing rust from your chrome bicycle components to have them looking polished and better than ever!

How to Remove Rust on Chrome Bicycle Components

Rust is not something that actually forms on chrome, it’s usually caused when there are scratches or dents in the chrome plating which leads to the moisture and air reacting (oxidizing) with the metal underneath to begin to form rust.

The most common areas that you’ll find rust on chrome bike parts will be the handle and the wheel rims. While this won’t ruin the functionality of your bike, it’s not a pleasant look and something that most riders will want to remove almost immediately.

When it comes to removing rust from chrome bicycle components, that are a few different techniques that you can use and all of them are effective. There is not a single “best” option so below we list some of the most effective methods so feel to choose the method which appeals to you the most.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is arguably the cheapest and easiest way to remove rust from chrome bicycle parts and yes, you did read that correctly, the foil that you wrap your food with is surprisingly versatile!

For this method you only need the following items:

  • Aluminum foil (rolled into a ball)
  • A cup of water
  • A cloth/rag

It may seem like a strange method for rust removal, however, you don’t just need to take our word for it. This video below gives an excellent example of how effective aluminum foil can be for removing rust from chrome (without scratching it in the process):

Steel Wool

Steel or wire wool (either a ball or brush) is another effective method for removing rust, however, it can be a more abrasive method than aluminum foil so extra care needs to be taken to prevent permanent scratches.

This method is best reserved for when you have particularly bad rust that has built up over time, maybe even making some components unusable. The process is similar to aluminum foil though some additional items will be required including:

  • Steel/wire wool (or a wire brush)
  • Water or a lubricating oil like WD-40
  • Hot soapy water
  • Metal polish

With this more abrasive method, It’s important to test it in a small section first to ensure it does not scratch or remove the chrome. If it does, you’ll need to apply a different method as removing the chrome will ruin the finish.

Rust Penetrant

The final method you can use is to buy a chemical solution that can be applied to break down the rust. Rust penetrants like WD-40 or Autosol are products that will break down the rust so that you can then clean it away with a sponge or cloth (though stubborn rust will require wire wool).

This Chain could do with a little WD40 for sure!

Method for Removing Rust From Chrome

Regardless of which method you choose to use above, there are certain steps you should follow to effectively remove the rust.

Step 1

Remove the surface level dirt with warm soapy water and a sponge. The soapy water will break down the surface level dirt and rust which will then help to remove the more stubborn rust.

Step 2

This step will depend on which of the method from above you choose. For aluminum foil, you can simply wet it in water and lightly scrub away the rust.

If using wire wool or a wire brush then you should apply an oiling lubricant to minimize any potential scratching. Then gently scrub away the rust. Polish can also be used for this step to fill in any pinpoint holes as you scrub.

If using a rust penetrant, apply this following the instruction on the packaging (each brand will have a different process so we won’t cover that here).

Step 3

Finally, once the rust is removed wipe the area down with a clean and dry cloth and seal/buff the entire area with chrome polish. This will give the bike a shiny finish and also fill in any cracks, scratches, or holes in the chrome to slow down future rusting.

Summary

Rust, for the most part, may look unsightly but it’s nothing to be overly concerned with and it can easily be treated. If your bike has been neglected over the winter months and you’ve found it to be covered in rust then don’t worry, it’s not permanent.

Simply following some of the steps above will ensure that the rust comes off cleanly and quickly with minimal effort. While your choice of removal can vary it’s always a good idea to use plenty of lubrication to prevent unnecessary scratching on the chrome.

We’d also recommend finishing any rust removal with some mild polishing. This is to coat the chrome giving the finish a great shine whilst also providing a seal to minimize future rusting. Also, check your bike for rust regularly and keep it well maintained as rust over time can lead to worse problems for your bike!