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An angel has come from the heavens and now graces the freshly swept and washed protective space of my garage. My 2005 K1200LT recently carried me flawlessly 1079 miles in 17 1/2 straight hours to it's new home in the northeastern paradise of New Jersey :rolleyes:
While carefully stroking and caressing my new love with a new natural australian wool wash mitt to exfoliate it's gleaming golden paint of moth and gnat strikes, I came across the idea of having the wheels chromed. The majority of the bike's lower half is bright with shiny plated parts and I thought the addition of the wheels would really look striking.
Does anyone have any input on this? Have you maybe already seen or done so? Just an idea to beautify an already sparkling gem.
 

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edonthenet said:
Does anyone have any input on this? Have you maybe already seen or done so? Just an idea to beautify an already sparkling gem.
A search on the old site should turn up a couple posts from Grep P. (cyclecamper) who chromed his wheels -- don't recall that the whole project came out well -- soory don't remember enough details, but they should be preserved in the archive.
 

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Greg would not do it again! He had chrome start to peel.

I have a BMW car with aluminum wheels, and there was another one included in the trunk that had been chromed, but it was also starting to peel in small spots.

A friend at work was going to have his car wheels chromed, but found that there are few places that can chrome aluminum and guarantee it to not pit or peel. Aluminum is not easily chromed without longevity problems.

No reason for you not to try though if you have a company who does aluminum chroming a LOT, and will guarantee the work. Just be forewarned that few places can do this well, even if they think they can.
 

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As a former HD owner since converted to an 1150GS Adventure that may take yet another leap to an LT I have chromed, polished and otherwise modified everything possible on a bike including wheels. I still purchase HD take-off parts have them chromed and sell on E-Bay or at swap meets. As a matter of fact I have to pick up some parts this week that have just been chromed. Chrome wheels when plated properly can really enhance the looks of a bike. However, as others have noted the operative word is properly. Furthermore, quality chrome platers are few and often difficult to locate--its typically word of mouth and its a nasty business. In any event I would try contacting ChromeMasters in Nashville, TN for my money they are the best. Many of the Harley high-end aftermarket parts manufacturers as well as the top custom bike builders send ChromeMasters there work for plating. If you peruse mags like Cycle World or those that feature custom bikes you are likely to see ChromeMasters as the featured chromer. Just call 615-256-9828 and ask for Daryl. The standard disclaimers apply.

Good luck.

Greg
 

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As a former chrome owner I can also testify that keeping chrome on aluminum is almost impossible. Plus, just washing and waxing the LT rims is a major PITA. Once you have pulled the front calipers off, you will be thankful you are not messing with chrome.

But, after all is said and done, chrome spokes are the worst.

Bob
 

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Alternative

I will chime in as well because last year I too considered having my wheels chromed. After reading the thread referred to above, I decided against it. However, I have seen an alternative that's quite nice. A friend who rides an 04 LT had the painted aluminum surfaces of the passenger armrests polished to bare metal. The result was a pair of very shiny armrests that still hold their shine. The same may hold true for the wheels, which, after all, are just painted aluminum. Worth a shot, and probably less expensive than chrome.
 

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Chrome? Did someone say chrome?

Not only did I have the wheels chromed, I had the forks, handlebars, rotors, lower fairing and passenger grab handles chromed. I AM having a bit of an ergonomics problem though.

Grif's worst nightmare. ;)
 

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The problem with polishing wheels is that it is extremely difficult to keep them polished, much harder than other items on the bike. Brake dust is notorious for causing spots and pits to start in the aluminum surface on wheels.

Anodized wheels stand up pretty well, but that is not a polished surface.

I have polished wheels on my 525i car, and finding them very difficult to keep shiny. Road grime and brake dust make quick work of dulling a polished aluminum finish.

Wish I could find a good, durable finish to apply over the polished surface, but so far have not found anything. Possibly urethane clear coat would work.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
dshealey said:
Wish I could find a good, durable finish to apply over the polished surface, but so far have not found anything. Possibly urethane clear coat would work.
Have you ever heard of Klasse All In One polish? And use a Mother's powerball for the polishing. My wife had an Audi with the same wheel problem. Totally killer combo on wheels and will last about 6 months.
 

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I have seen the Powerball, will have to look up the polish. I have polished my wheels with power buffs and white polishing compound, but need something to leave a good protective coating on them.
 

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I know a local guy who has his wheels chromed on a K100. He says that while they look nice, they are a PITA to take care of. The brake dust is really corrosive and if you're not cleaning them all the time the chrome will pit fairly significantly.
 

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After polishing the wheels, you could get them powder coated with clear. I have seen this done on an intake manifold for a hot rod. It was pretty sweet looking. Most wheels these days have some sort of powder coated finish, so longevity should not be an issue.

I would advise against polishing the LT wheels though. I am pretty sure they are a cast wheel and you never know how close to the surface the porosity is. If you break through the outer skin of the casting, you will never be able to get a good surface. That is one of the reasons that any casting that is chromed is so expensive. The fallout during the polishing and chroming process is tremendous.
 

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In general, I agree with others concerning the wisdom of not polishing cast wheels. Typically, a cast surface is too porous to support a good polishing job and it then becomes a magnet for brake dust which on a poor surface is very difficut to remove. That being said for I have had good success having cast HD wheels chromed without a problem.

If I was inclined to chrome the wheels of an LT, which I am not, I would first solicit the input of a good chromer to determine if the surface is appropriate for chroming. Keep in mind that before chroming the wheel must first be polished prior to the steps required for chroming. As noted above, I have yet to have a quality chrome wheel surface pit from brake dust or for that matter any other contaminant. Further, all it took was reasonable care, i.e., rinsing/washing off brake dust and the occasional polishing. The critical issues are the surface to be chromed and of course the quality of the chroming process.

Greg
 

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What?
You haven't chromed the tank yet Ron?
Bob
 

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Re chroming / polishing

Speaking as a Harley Softail owner as well as the LT, I decided a couple of years ago to switch from chromed spoked wheels to fatboy solid wheels and then in a fit of madness decided to have them mirror polished. At first boy did they shine and sparkle, but after the first winter it started. But I do live in the UK, and rode the bike through the winter. Now what used to be a five minute clean and polish was not enough, to get the wheels anywhere close (not really that close if I am honest) took almost an hour each side on each wheel. And a real pain to get in behind the brake disc and the rear pulley. I now regret having it all done and wish I had followed sagely advice, painted the inners and just polished the outer rims. Maybe I am just lazy, the rest of the bike shines up real easy but the wheels are a law un-to themselves. Also if they get wet they must be thoroughly dried as water marks are also a pain to get off. As they say on the quiz shows 'The Choice is Yours but Choose wisely'
 

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I don't know about you, but I want to spend my time riding not polishing. A buddy of mine has a Harley and his weekend is spent with 5 hours polishing to 1 hour of riding. I would much rather be riding. I wash my bike so that I can see throught the windshield and light can get out of my headlight and tail lights. Even with a fifteen minute wash the bike looks pretty good and I'm ready to go another 500 miles.

IMHO, If you want chrome and the maintenance requirements of chrome, buy a Harley, if you want to ride, buy a BMW. Besides I like allow wheels the way they are, understated, high performance. No need for bling bling when you are going fast.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 
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