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Home » Cycling » The Proper Way to Remove Stubborn Wheel Decals, Quick and Easy.

The Proper Way to Remove Stubborn Wheel Decals, Quick and Easy.


September 2016

The decals on my wife’s bike wheels started coming up along the edges a while back so I decided I’d just pull them off.  Worked on my Vuelta rims, why not on hers?

Uh, because they used some kind of military grade ultra-glue on her decals.  The mess I left was atrocious.  I stopped at the first decal, because I knew this was going to take a minute.

I grabbed my wife’s hair dryer and a plastic butter knife (don’t use metal, especially a razor blade, as you’ll surely scratch the aluminum), took the wheel off the bike and went to work.

Important note:  You will be applying heat to a heat-conductive rim.  Let half of the air out of the tube BEFORE you begin.  Failure to do so could result in the tube exploding in your face, and that would suck.

Now, I’m a bit lazy and it could be argued that heating up a tube will weaken it so you should remove the tire and tube.  I didn’t.  

Anyway, you do not have to blast the decals with massively high heat.  The warm setting will work just fine.  Point the hair dryer directly at the edge of the sticker and work it up with the back edge of the plastic knife so you don’t rip it.  When you get enough up, just pull and peel (back, not up).  Keep the heat directed at the decal so you’re heating up the glue…  The decal should pull right up.

For any remaining glue stuck to the rim, use lighter fluid and a paper towel.  Now, friends, we’re talking about lighter fluid and heat, to remove a sticker from a highly heat conductive aluminum rim.  A red flag should go up that says, “Dude, be careful here”.  Um, duh.  The heating element in a hair dryer gets really freaking hot.  Be very cautious with heat and flammable liquid.  Dig?

I used Goo Gone, and that worked just fine without removing the black from the rim.

Now, as a final note, full decals work best.  They should even come up in one piece if you use heat.  

Don’t suffer with gnarly stickers on your wheels because gnarly looking wheels suck.  Clean, awesome wheels, even just plain black, are way better than less than perfect decals.


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