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"Nickel Plating a Motocross Bike Frame"


Hi there,

I am in Western Australia and I enjoy the sport of motocross racing. Now here is my question, I own a mx bike and instead of re-painting the frame (steel tubular double cradle frame) I was wondering if I could get it plated. At first I thought chrome plating (which would look good) but as the frame is a stress member and I jump the motorbike pretty high and land hard it would have to be strong. Now can I Nickel plate it? and get it to look a similar finish to chrome? I have heard that chrome plating weakens the steel but nickel plating strengthens it, is this true? As the after market exhaust pipe on the bike is nickel plated and doesn't dent even on hard impacts...

Any help would be appreciated,


Adam T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Perth, Western Australia


Plating can weaken High Strength Steel, by hydrogen embrittlement. I don't think your frame though strong, will be made off High Strength Steel.

Chrome plating is usually mostly nickel with a veneer of chrome over that, so nickel and chrome plating are essentially the same.

There are straight chrome plates.

But as you won't be doing this in your bathtub phone a few plating shops locally and talk to them. As what they do and how that could affect your frame.

Ian Brooke
university - Glasgow, Scotland


Hello Adam

Should you have your bike frame nickel/chrome plated you will want to specify a few things. The nickel plate should be duplex consisting of semi bright & bright nickel. This will give you added corrosion protection for outside use. The total nickel thickness of the two deposits should be a minimum of 30 micrometers with approximately 2/3 of this being semi bright. The remaining 1/3 of the nickel deposit (bright nickel) provides the finish that you see on your exhaust pipe. Finally specify the chrome over nickel application to have a minimum thickness of 0.25 micrometers.

Peter Wilson
- Ontario, Canada


How easily can I triple chrome plate a brand new motorcycle that's mostly made from aluminum? I'd like to plate as much of the bike as possible. Most of the parts are already very fine finished to begin with. Which way should I do it for the best results. I've got a complete system and a rectifier as well. I've got zincate as well as all the other stuff needed in the process. I just want to know how I'll get the best results from this system.. Thanks for the help,

Anthony Pagnotta
- Port Charlotte,FL, United States of America


"Triple chrome plate" means nothing specific to me, with 35 years of plating experience, because it is strictly a salesperson's Tweedle-Dee term and can mean copper-nickel-chrome and it can mean semi bright nickel-bright nickel-chrome, or anything else they want it to mean. It sounds like you have most of the solutions you need and most of the instructions. But you don't have the experience, and I don't think you'll be very successful. I would suggest asking your supplier for more detailed instructions, but triple chrome plating on aluminum, with real adhesion, is a very difficult process and it may be unrealistic to think a hobbyist will acquire enough experience to achieve it. In this context, though, "triple-chrome" would have to include copper plating or electroless nickel because you can't electrolytically nickel plate the zincate layer.

Anyway, it's zincate, then copper, then semi-bright nickel, then bright nickel, then chrome.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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