If you’ve been following along on my Youtube Channel, you’ve probably seen this tool make quite a few appearances in detailing videos. This electric-toothbrush-looking contraption is known as the Rupes iBrid Nano. And after owning it for 6 months, I don’t think I can live without it. In this review, we’re going to go over all the things I like and dislike about it after spending some time with it.
What exactly is the Rupes iBrid Nano?
In short, it’s an answer to a problem nearly every detailer had before it came along – a solution for polishing paint in tight areas. Rupes was able to combine multiple tools into this single, easy to use polisher. Sure, there were extensions and small backing plates available to use on rotary buffers, but nothing provided the number of useful combinations that the Nano does.
The iBrid Nano is a battery-operated polisher designed to be used with small polishing pads (1″ and 2″). It offers 3 different configurations in terms of polishing movement: a 3mm dual action (blue), a 12mm dual action (red), and a straight rotary (green). Swapping between these options is as simple as changing the fitting in the head of the tool.
What’s included in the kit?
That’s exactly how the iBrid Nano is sold – in a kit. Rupes has recently offered the ability to purchase items a la carte but if you break down the actual cost of everything, you get much more value by purchasing the entire kit. Even if you don’t have a use for every item. Here’s what’s included:
- iBrid Nano polisher
- BigFoot Premium Padded Tool Case
- AC-DC adaptor
- 2 X Rechargeable battery packs
- Battery charger
- 6 X Velcro foam cutting pad, COARSE Ø30/40mm
- 6 X Velcro foam polishing pad, FINE Ø30/40mm
- 4 X Velcro foam cutting pad, COARSE Ø50/70mm
- 4 X Velcro foam polishing pad, FINE Ø50/70mm
- Zephir COARSE compound, 150ml bottle
- Keramik FINE polishing compound, 150ml bottle
- Rotary fitting
- 3mm orbit fitting
- 12mm orbit fitting
- Polishing backing plate Ø30mm, 1.25″
- Polishing backing plate Ø50mm, 2″
- Sanding backing plate Ø30mm, 1.25″
- Horsehair medium cup brush
- Nylon hard cup brush
- 10 X Adhesive sanding discs Ø35mm 2000 Grit
- 10 X Adhesive sanding discs Ø35mm 3000 Grit
- 4 X Microfiber towels
- Accessory organizer case
That’s right, folks. This kit literally includes EVERYTHING you need to use the polisher, right down to the polishes, pads, and towels. Yes, it’s expensive. But they also give you a ton of stuff.
What does “iBrid” mean?
Many people confuse this as the model name of the tool, but it isn’t. The term “iBrid” refers to Rupes’ battery-powered technology. You can use this as a cordless tool (which is incredibly handy) or with the included plug-in adapter.
When you hold the trigger down, a light will turn on for about a second. If the battery has plenty of power, it’ll be green. If it’s ready to be charged, it’ll be red. Pretty straight forward.
The battery’s working life is 30 minutes and it takes 20 minutes to recharge. Simple math says that as long as you keep the 2nd battery charged, you’ll never run out of power. In the event that you forget to charge a dead battery, you can always plug it into the wall too.
There have been hints dropped lately saying that people are going to have to teach themselves to refer to this tool as the “Nano” rather than the “iBrid”. Could this mean that there is a range of full size battery powered polishers on the way? I suppose time will tell if those rumors are true.
Using the Rupes iBrid Nano
Using the Nano is very easy. Using it well, however, requires a bit more of a learning curve. What do I mean by that?
The actual operation of this polisher is simple. It has a dial that adjusts between the 5 available speeds – just choose your desired speed and hold the trigger down.
Changing between the different movements is also easy. Hold the button down on the back of the head to keep it from spinning, then use the supplied wrench to swap between the 3mm, 12mm, and rotary fittings. Flip the wrench over and use the smaller side to change backing plates.
Rupes iBrid Nano stalling
Stalling and having problems maintaining pad rotation are common complaints of this tool. While it isn’t necessarily the most powerful polisher in your arsenal, these issues tend to arise among inexperienced users. It takes a bit of getting used to in order to keep the pad spinning on curves or tight areas.
If your pad stops spinning, chances are you’re using too much pressure. Now, I’m all for “hammering down” with moderate pressure and fast arm speed when using bigger polishers. As a matter of fact, I’m probably quite a bit rougher than most detailers. That isn’t the best strategy when using the iBrid Nano though.
Keep in mind that the smaller the pad you use on a dual action polisher, the heavier it cuts. This is why I tend to prefer stepping down to 5″ cutting pads on the bigger machines rather than 6″ ones. When you’re using tiny 1″ pads on the Nano, that’s a pretty big difference.
There isn’t as much need for heavy pressure here. Maintaining light, consistent pressure especially in tight areas or on curves will usually keep your pad spinning. Do I wish this machine had more power? Yes. But that would also make it more dangerous when in the wrong hands.
In the event that you’re still having trouble with your pad stalling out, it’s time to step up to the rotary attachment. This has solved the problem for me every time. If you’re compounding, holograms can be a concern. It’s the nature of the beast with a rotary polisher.
Holograms are more likely to be an issue if you have any contamination on your pad whether it’s spent compound, dead clear coat, or adhesive from tape. It’s even more important to make sure you’re working clean and swapping pads out often in this situation.
If you’re unable to avoid creating holograms with the rotary attachment, don’t worry. Simply follow up with a finishing polish with the dual action attachment and you’ll clear them up in no time.
With all of this in mind, the 12mm setting is usually where I’ll start out. If I’m dealing with really hard paint, heavy defects, or having trouble with stalling, I’ll step up to the rotary at that point.
Most people have found that the 3mm random orbital setting is really only useful for sanding. Both the longer throw and rotary options are much more effective for use with cutting/polishing pads.
The rotary setting is also very useful when you need to be precise in tight spaces. It’s worth mentioning that the larger 2″ backing plate and pads will not work with the rotary option – they’ll hit the plastic shroud.
Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with the machine. This is done on purpose by Rupes. They feel that the larger pad puts too much strain on the small gears inside the head. It’s best to follow their recommendations on this and stick to 1″ pads with the rotary, although you can remove the shroud if you’re an outlaw.
Pads for the iBrid Nano
Rupes includes a set of their own cutting and polishing pads with the tool. They give you 2 different types of pads (blue for cutting and yellow for finishing) in 2 different sizes (1″ and 2″). They give you 6 of each 1″ pad and 4 of each 2″ pad. This should be enough for you to swap between in order to keep working clean on most sized vehicles.
The yellow Rupes polishing pad is very popular in the detailing community in all sizes. It’s just firm enough to offer quite a bit of cut, especially when doing a one step paint correction. It’s also soft enough to leave very little, if any haze behind when finishing down after compounding. Unless you’re dealing with really soft, finicky paint, you should be able to achieve the desired clarity with this pad.
The blue coarse cutting pads from Rupes don’t seem to be as well loved. I’ve been using them since I bought the iBrid Nano and every time I kick myself for forgetting to order or cut some 1″ microfiber cutting pads.
This is just personal preference, but I just don’t like cutting with foam pads. While the blue pads do offer enough cutting power to get the job done, they just don’t measure up to the performance of a microfiber or wool pad. I’d love to see Rupes replace the blue pads in their kit with a set of microfiber ones. Note to self: remember to order 1″ microfiber pads.
If you’re having trouble finding 1″ microfiber pads (Lake Country offers some), KXK Dynamics and Oberk have teamed up with a pretty cool solution. Oberk sells a large microfiber pad in the form of a square sheet and KXK offers a punch set to be able to cut your own pads.
When you do the math, this is more cost-effective than buying premade 1″ pads in most cases. You’ll need to cut quite a few pads to make the savings worth it though so this is probably more useful for professional or hardcore detailers working with a higher volume.
Rupes compound and polish
Also included in the kit are bottles of Rupes’ own compound and polish. They have developed these specifically to work with their pads and machines. The caps on the bottles are even color coded to the pads to make it easier for novices to know which one to use. Pretty cool.
I’m a big fan of Meguiar’s polishes so I have yet to try these out myself. Perhaps in the future I’ll give them a shot. For now, my go-to products are Meguiar’s D300 and M100 compounds and M205 finishing polish. All work great with any of the Rupes pads.
Sanding with the iBrid Nano
Rupes gives you a set of sanding discs along with a rubberized backing plate for wet sanding. I wouldn’t recommend using these for any beginners out there because one wrong move can cause a world of trouble. Any type of sanding should be left to the experienced folks.
I haven’t personally used these either because I prefer to sand by hand using blocks from KXK Dynamics. Some people prefer the consistency of a machine, but I’d rather be able to see, hear, and feel every movement of the paper to fully understand how the paint is responding. Once again, this is just personal preference.
Rupes iBrid Nano Short Neck vs. Long Neck
Rupes sells this tool in 2 different variations: the short neck and the long neck. They’re both identical in every way except for the length of the neck leading to the head. The long neck seems to be more popular and also has a slightly higher price. Does more expensive mean better though? Not necessarily.
I actually chose the short neck version myself for a couple of reasons. I’m not going to lie, the lower price was a small factor (the cost of this tool can be a bit tough to swallow). It also seems to be in stock more often than the more popular long neck.
The biggest thing for me was being able to keep consistent pressure on the pad. In my mind, the longer the tool is, the more likely you are to put leverage on it which can keep your pad from being flat on the surface. Keeping your pad flat is very important when polishing paint. It allows you to get the most cutting ability while leaving behind the least amount of haze, pigtails, or tick marks.
Another big draw to the short neck version is the ability to use it one-handed. I found quite a few times where I use it this way while polishing a car whether it’s in tight areas or long reaches.
You’re free to use the long neck with one hand too, but again, pad flatness will be harder to achieve and it could be a bit harder to control. The whole reason I bought the iBrid Nano was for tight spaces. Keeping the tool itself as small as possible just makes sense to me.
Other uses for the Rupes iBrid Nano
Remember those brushes I mentioned earlier? They aren’t a gimmick – they’re actually useful! The stiff-bristled brush is great for scrubbing stains out of carpet or fabric seats. The softer horsehair brush works really well for cleaning leather seats if you want to give your arms a rest. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on any leather that’s worn out though, just to be safe.
Both of these brush attachments have come in handy for household uses too, believe it or not. This machine is helpful when cleaning Chuck Taylors and scrubbing sweat stains out of hats. Yes, I’ve actually done both while grinning like an idiot the entire time. Hey, if you’re going to pony up the cash for this polisher, you might as well enjoy it!
Alternatives to the Rupes iBrid Nano
One of the reasons people are willing to spend the money on the iBrid Nano is because it doesn’t really have any direct competitors. As with anything else in the detailing industry though, I’m sure they’re coming.
Adam’s Polishes announced their new Swirl Killer Micro polisher at the 2019 SEMA show and it appears to be the closest thing to the iBrid Nano so far (at least in terms of appearance). It does seem to fall short in terms of features and quality but at less than half the price, that’s to be expected.
The Flex PXE 80 was also unveiled at SEMA and looks quite promising. It offers a lot of the iBrid Nano’s features but appears to be physically larger in size. I’d say it looks quite promising.
Manufacturers like Milwaukee, Flex, and Dewalt have all been releasing larger cordless polishers lately. With large companies like these getting into battery-powered polishers, I wouldn’t be surprised if the chokehold Rupes has had on this corner of the market relaxes in the near future.
Is the Rupes iBrid Nano actually worth the high price tag?
There’s no denying that this is an expensive tool. Honestly, if you’re a hobbyist detailer that only has 1 car to work on every once in a while, you might have a hard time justifying the purchase. But if you find yourself polishing multiple vehicles or you just love to have interesting tools, the iBrid Nano is the definition of a game changer.
I haven’t polished a single vehicle since purchasing the Rupes iBrid Nano without using it. That’s the truth. There have been multiple times where I asked myself “what would I have done there if I didn’t have this thing!?”. Polishing by hand in tight spots is the likely answer.
I’ve found many uses for this machine. Polishing the edges of even the more basic-shaped panels. Cleaning leather seats. Removing scratches around door handles. Polishing interior trim pieces. Polishing the spokes of wheels. Reaching all the tight areas of a motorcycle’s paint job. Quickly leveling high spots while applying a ceramic coating. Spot-correcting random scratches.
Even doing a full headlight restoration when I was too lazy to grab an extension cord. There are endless uses for the iBrid Nano and it seems that as time goes on, I keep finding more.
I told myself if I didn’t find it useful, I’d turn around and sell it after working on a few vehicles to recover as much of my money as possible. After using it for a few months, you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Yes, it’s a high priced item. But go back and look at the list of all the things included in the kit. You get a lot for your money. You’re also getting the Italian craftsmanship that Rupes is known for. When it comes down to it, the question is simple: would you rather spend hours polishing by hand, or bite the bullet for the iBrid Nano?
You can purchase your own Rupes iBrid Nano online right here:
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: