What is the single most annoying thing to a bike collector? No, it’s not the arduous process of maintaining their components, and it’s not even the endless task of finding space for the next new bike.

The truth in fact is it’s... chipped paint!

Which means of course that the single most annoying discovery for me is when I glance down and there on the top tube or more commonly on the forks is a great big chunk of missing paint.

It’s as if there is a little chipmunk following me and my bikes around, arbitrarily taking bites out of them without even having the decency to touch them up afterwards in the vain hope of disguising their lunchtime nibbles.

Anyone who has restored a bicycle or motorcycle will know the heartache of discovering a chip; trust me, it’s even more harrowing when you have spent your precious spare time sanding, prepping and applying numerous coats of paint to achieve what you thought was perfection.

Because it never looks right when you touch up that scratch and often you just think you should strip it all down and start all over again (warning: these thoughts don’t do anything for your sanity).

Paint is never going to be as good as it used to be (in the 60s, lead was used in paint).

Now I know the health risks and I understand the reasons, but how I long for paint like they used to make.

Luckily, these days rust is not so much a problem; with alloy steel combination frames or aluminium, a chip down to the metal will not instantly start corroding and creating an unsightly amount of rust.

However, you know where that chip is, it keeps you awake at night and there is nothing you can do reverse it.

Conversely, it’s pretty amazing how we paint bicycles these days; I regularly send frames off to be powder coated for myself and customers and they look amazing when they return.

Some paint jobs are better than others; again the quality of paint makes the difference.

I have been to visit my powder coater who showed me his electrostatic gun, which imparts a positive charge to the paint which is meant to distribute the paint more evenly and achieve a better finish (seriously, what is it with men and guns? – even with a lowly paint gun the glint in their eye suggests they are secretly wondering if they look like Arnold Schwarzenegger...).

But what can you do to stop the chips?

Well nothing really. Unfortunately, it’s not a case of IF a chip happens it’s a case of WHEN.

Even after spending your hard earned money and spare time achieving the glossiest paint job in town, the inevitable chip will appear at some point to ruin your day.

My workshop manager Jim has gone to the extreme length of stripping his bike down to the bare metal and letting Mother Nature take its course.

Yes, he is letting it rust because he has momentarily gone mad and thinks a proper rusty bike is the next cool thing.

Well Jim, you might be right but I will continue to soldier on, touching up those chips even if it sends me mad.