Cyclocross season is on the horizon. The anticipation of heart-pounding efforts and skill-challenging courses invokes eager excitement. Every weekend is a new challenge. A different course born from the imagination of the course designers who take the landscape and transform it into a cyclocross playground.
Many things about cyclocross are predictable: It will be fun. It will be hard. It will be different from last year even if the course is nearly the same. Then there is the weather “Wild Card”.
A course can change dramatically in a single lap by drying out, clouding up, or raining buckets. Every rider has their “preferred” conditions. Some like it dry, some like it “technical”, and some only make the podium when it gets muddy. Every rider feels that they are faster under their “preferred” conditions and they will tell you what those conditions are if you ask them.
There is one type of course condition, however, that you are not likely to hear cyclocross racers longing for; The conditions where mud begins to load up on the bike. This type of mud can add many pounds to the bike, making a rider work harder and ride slower. This type of mud can grind a rider to a halt with poor shifting and mud-packed forks and chainstays. This type of mud can age a bike many years in a single race. Nobody likes this kind of mud!
For most racers we have come to accept that this is a part of cyclocross. Most of us don’t have a team of mechanics in the pits giving us a clean bike every half-lap, so we battle through the race on a bike that looks like a swamp-creature. But is there a way to minimize this mud-loading?
Many riders have tried many remedies with minimal success. Riders have sprayed their bikes with PAM cooking spray or WD40 and some have used automotive waxes and polishes. I have tried all of these and can say that the results were minimally effective. Maybe it helped for half of a lap but very quickly my bike looked no better than any other bike on the course.
I have fantasized about a Teflon paint job. A paint that was capable of repelling mud, making my bike lighter and cleaner than anyone else on the course. How much of an advantage would a rider have if their bike was able to stay cleaner and lighter in these conditions? How much easier would it be to clean the bike after the race? How much would I be willing to pay for a “mud-shedding” paint job? Is this fantasy even possible?
Enter...Mason Barnett, owner of MAANS Restoration and Protection, and North American manager for TAC System USA. Mason is an automotive-finish specialist. Mason is an expert at using the most advanced products available for creating the most beautiful and durable finishes for automotive, marine and household applications. The products he uses make “waxes and polishes” seem like the Stone Age and he believes he can transform a factory bike paint job into a mud-shedding surface. Mason is so confident that he asked me if I was willing to offer up my Giant TCX cyclocross racer as a prototype. He would treat all surfaces including frame, rims, tires, and components. He even treated my shoes in order to prevent the ten pound “cement shoes” that we all dread. My job is to race and train and get dirty, then report my experience with the surface applications. This is exactly what I intend to do. If Mason is right, this could make a lot of riders a lot less fearful of the dreaded swamp-creature bike.
So what is this product that Mason is using? It's a product that is in the category of “Quartz Ceramic" coatings used by top professionals in the automotive finishing industry. TACSystem has a focus on car care products aimed toward professional detailers and vehicle enthusiasts, and is a leader in innovative car care products. Quartz-based ceramic coatings are the pinnacle of that innovation.
Here is a description of the product:
Ceramics are a paint protectant, SiO2 (Quartz glass), and are not a wax or polymer sealant that will wash away or break down over time. It is a nano coating that forms a semi-permanent to permanent adhesion to the surface and can only be removed through heavy abrasion. Ceramics are highly resistant to chemicals and environmental fallout.
Essentially this is a professional product used by professionals. I have seen videos of the product shedding mud off of a dirt-track race car and it is impressive. If it is capable of helping release the chunks of mud off of my bike during a muddy race, not only will I be happy, but I may no longer dread the mud races. I will update this report when I have some results. To learn more about Mason's services, see his information below or stop by Belgianwerkx!
Mason Barnett 262-416-3013