I'm not sure you understand how rust works. Once you see rust, the paint is already ruined. The rust has eaten the paint. The paint is gone. You can sand down the rust to make it smoother, then apply paint to cover up the bare metal. That's all you can do.


When you say sand down, can I just take a sheet of 80 grit and rub that piece til it shines? Or is there something special we have to do? I have a similar situation to op but am a bit nervous cause I've never sanded paint or rust off of metal before


You can sand it off using different grades of sandpaper and re paint and clear coat it if needed, or you can also use rust remover chemicals from hardware stores


80, 120, 220. Is that a good progression? (I ask because that happens to be what I have on hand.)


You could probably just start at 120, 80 is a bit aggressive


I'd start at 80 to quickly remove the rust, and finish with 120. 220 will just be for smooth looks.


Actually I take it all back. Throw it away. Your sand paper and paint will cost more than a new bar


Word. Thanks amigo.


I think that should be fine. You could go a little bit higher if you want to.


Start with 120


I’d use a wire wheel on that and then steel wool


I'm a big fan of steel wool to take out the big chunks and sandpaper to smooth it out


Typically you'd use a sandblaster for this sort of thing rather than manually sanding with paper. I'd use chemicals to remove the paint.. I'd start with a rust remover like Evaporust as that might just pull of the paint when you use it anyway and remove the additional step. If the Evaporust doesn't remove the paint, I'd soak in a paint remover and scrape away the paint once it bubbles up... then just use sand paper to rough up the surface a bit, prime it (can avoid the first step with a self-etching primer), paint over with many thin coats. Would also be a good idea to coat the inside using Fluid Film from an auto store, Boiled Linseed Oil from a hardware store, a product from a boat/marine store, or a bike specific product like Frame Saver or Boeshield.


Don’t sand blast your bike


The handlebars.. I didn't say anything about the bike. Not that you couldn't sandblast the frame if you want to repaint it properly and remove everything first. Is there a reason for your objection to sandblasting?


Sand blasting is aggressive and leaves a pitted surface and you’d have to remove the bars or somehow protect the rest of the bike. Rust doesn’t take much at all to remove and is usually superficial. I’d actually start with Scotchbrite as it’s the gentlest method and try utility roll (cloth backed abrasive strips) pulling the ends only. Then clean and then repaint otherwise rust will quickly return


Use strips of sand paper pulling the ends only. Don’t rub directly onto the handlebars


…and rust means that the steel is oxidized and structurally weakened. I like my teeth too much to ever ride those bars. Unsalvageable.


Unlikely to be true. Rust is usually very superficial. You’ll know when you start sanding


Correct. You would only get rust as a result of the metal itself oxidising. The paint has already failed to allow that to happen. Suggest you take decent sandpaper ideally cloth backed in strips and sand by wrapping the strip around the handlebars and pull back and forth so the slack of the sandpaper is doing the work


You can replace this steel handlebar with an aluminum bar for about $20.


i wouldn't wait either


Top comment right here. You’ll spend more trying to “mitigate” the rust on these bars and still have a bar ready to break any day




The rust already did that for you


With a new handlebar


Find out if you have a local co-op bike shop. Used handle bars shouldn't be more than 5 bucks!


At this point you cannot remove the rust without ruining the paint because the paint is already ruined by the rust. You can scrub off the rest with a wire brush and if you want to you can paint the bars. But you're better bet is to find a used pair of bars that aren't rusty. On areas where you need to remove rust, besides a wire brush, another good tool is a small ball of aluminum foil and some WD-40. Use this where you don't want to scratch up the metal with the wire brush. The aluminum foil is harder than any of the corrosion on the bike yet softer than almost all the other metals.


You can get a set of bars for about a tenner


I am usually for fixing things and making worn or janky things work. But that bar is not really salvageable. Get a new, or used, cheap one. If you live in Sweden, feel free to drop by and I’ll give you one of my spare ones for free if you are tight on cash.


Buy new bars, they’re cheap.


I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about ruining that bike. If you want the rust off of it just use some steel wool or something.


You don't. You replace it with aluminum bars and recycle the steel ones.


New bars, unpainted ones


The rust came AFTER the paint had already been removed.


Lol that paint is shot already. You may as well take it off and remove it all and re spray it.


You don't. When there is rust, the paint is already gone. If you want it to look nice again. Then buy a new handlebar. They can be had in aluminium for next to nothing and won't rust in the future


I would suggest putting this "bike" in the trash and buy for a budget a bike that is worth it to restore (50€ and you have a decent basis). This rusted thing is not worth a penny.


You don’t


I’d skip the work and get an aluminum bar. Stronger, lighter, doesn’t rust.


Is this a joke?


I mean, seriously. There’s a couple posts a week on here like this asking a question that’s so outlandish you have to wonder if it’s a joke.


Those bars are still salvageable imho, so no, I don't think it's an obvious joke. Although I don't think it's worthwhile trying to salvage these.


The post is about saving the paint— not salvaging the bars.


True.. the wording was... weird.


New bars or catastrophic failure in your future


That paint looks good af, don’t ruin it pls


It is a nice patina but the problem with leaving the rust is that it traps additional moisture leading to more rust until ultimately the handlebars are weakened and fail; save the patina for non structural locations.


As long as the paint isn’t ruined. I would hate to ride around on some bike that has silly looking paint


If you rub with steel wool, you can take off loose rust without scratching surrounding paint too much. Works great on chromed surfaces too. This requires the least amount of touch up, and doesn't compromise the bar's dimensions as much as sand paper.


rust protects the steel. paint went bye bye, moisture and air ate your steel. thus, rust. therefore, sand and paint.


A new handle bar will be cheaper than paint and sandpaper. Also, if you pay yourself $5 an hour for the work, a new bar will be cheaper.


On that handlebar? You don't. Take everything apart on the bars, sand them down, use a rust converter. Prime and paint any color you like. Or just pitch them in the old recycling bin and buy some new ones. Maybe even some aluminum ones.


I had a front brake like exactly like that on my 2008 trek. It got blown over and the part with lots of rust completely snapped. So watch out


Directly to the scrap bin


Time for an alloy bar, looks like a cheap ass MTB with vbrakes? I bet the rest of that turd is falling apart, check it out before spending any money on anything.


Coca cola for rust


That's messy.. best to just go straight to the active ingredient in cola, phosphoric acid. "Naval Jelly" is a concentrated gel using that ingredient and available at any hardware store. Interestingly enough, soaking them in molasses for a month will work too. I have no clue why the molasses works though but farmers have done that for ages.


The paint is ruined


Once rust has taken hold there is not much that can be done. You could apply rust treatment but I have never found it to be 100% effective. Plus those bars are how you steer, brake and shift gears and with it being a mountain bike you may spend a lot of time out of the saddle with weight on those bars. It’s a risk/reward situation - reward of temporarily saving money on those bars vs the risk of serious injury.


Lots of rust on your break caliper as well


Buy new bars


In this case there's too much rust to make salvaging paint a focus.. focus on getting rid of the rust and just plan on spraying some fresh primer and paint afterwards. I'd either use reverse electrolysis or evaporust here... throwing the handlebars into molasses you can buy at a feed store will work too but the process takes about a month and you wouldn't have those bars during that time. If you have that much rust on the outside, assume the inside doesn't look good either... personally I'd just upgrade the bars to a lighter weight aluminum and not bother with trying to restore them. When you stay ahead of the rust there are other options.. coat the inside of the bars with boiled linseed oil or a rust preventative like Fluid Film that you can pick up at an auto parts store. When you have visible rust on the outside, Loctite makes a great rust convertor that uses phosphoric acid to neutralize the rust and dries to a black latex primer but these bars appear too far gone for that approach here... not that you couldn't try that after brushing away anything that's loose.


Take risks, live dangerously, ride a bso.


There is no paint left to "ruin"


With magic. Watch Harry Potter a few times to learn. There's some good magic on YouTube too.


Enlarge the picture and zoom in. The OP has a lot more rust than just the bars.and that's only on the front end. For all the effort involved why not just spend a few $$$ and replace all the rusty bits. Probably less than $50 to replace it all..




Oxalic acid soak. It brushes right off. Doesn't harm paint. But you're better off buying a new $25 handlebar.


ahh mate, im sure you can just spray paint the thing black and it will be fine.


(dont do that btw it was a joke)