Polishing Chrome Bicycle Rims

For decent chrome, I use a felt Dremel drum and Simichrome polish. I'd be inclined to work solely by hand on older plating, like nickel, or plating that is somewhat compromised or thin. There are a few imperfections in this rim and a few pits, but nothing too bad.

I start with the Dremel Drum and work all over the rim. Then, I use a clean paper towel or a soft cloth to finish the job and work any remaining small spots that need to be done. At the end I wipe it down and get any residue off. I like Simichrome the best for this sort of work, and I recommend it despite the price. The rim tape is Fond de Jante (another favorite of mine- very durable), the tubes are generic ISO 590, and the tires are ISO 590 (26 x 1 3/8) Duro white walls with the street tread.


  1. For really rusty stuff (first step) you can use a copper dremel brush (never steel). Copper will not eat into the chrome/steel surface of the rim. Some people start with a a copper wool (chore boy) pad (never use S.O.S. because it's steel)

  2. I have a 1954 Schwinn COED 26" 3 speed bike. Heavy rust was removed with gentle soaking in Metal Rescue. The chrome coating is pealing in places. Is there any hope of restoring these rims and protecting them from rusting again? The bike frame and seat are in really good condition and I would love to get the wheels shiny again. Please advise. Becky

  3. I used Metal Rescue to get most if not all of the rust off of my 1964 Schwinn COED 26" 3-speed rims. Now I can see that the chrome coating is also damaged. Is there a way to restore the rims or should I try to replace them?

    1. It depends on how badly they are peeling. Once the chrome peels off, or is otherwise gone, that exposes the bare metal and it can rust again. I'd leave it as is, and just preserve, if it's not too bad. I have owned several bikes like this over the years. You can preserve the current condition by keeping the parts dry and lightly oiling the surface (a little goes a long way) with a basic light oil/preservative. The easiest to find is WD-40, but there are others available if you don't like WD.

      You cannot put the chrome back on the rim. You can replace the rims, if absolutely want a nicer set. The most direct replacement option is original replacements (other old Schwinn rims from eBay or similar). You'd have to look around for the same rims in better condition (or a complete wheelset) to be for sale, and then replace your bike's worn parts.

    2. And remember if you go the oil route - do NOT oil the sides of the rim where the brakes rub. You need it to grab on and chrome loss in the brake area is perfectly normal wear.


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