“Just don’t let your bike sit outside in the wind, rain and frost”
If you’ve got the luxury of having two bikes at your disposal, preferring to reserve your better steed for dry weather, or you’re just not a fan of riding in the freezing cold and want to pack it away for the winter, there are several things you should do to store your bike properly.
Use the tips below to avoid any deterioration of your bike while it sits unused, so it will be ride to roll come Spring.
Whether you’re putting your bike in your basement, garage, dining room or in a storage unit, make sure you follow each step. If you don’t have good storage place for your bike at home, and don’t want to rent an entire storage unit just for one or two bicycles, there are a number of pay-by the item storage companies out there that will store your bike. Just don’t let your bike sit outside in the wind, rain and frost for three months – you will regret it!
Before you put your bike away, make sure you pump up your tires, particularly if your bicycle is going to be resting on its wheels. If your tires are flat, the weight of the bike presses down through the rims onto the rubber all winter long. Over time, this pressure can weaken your inner tube and tire and/or the tire can develop a weak point in the sidewall. A decent track pump will serve you well – you could get away with a mini pump but nothing gets your tires up to pressure like a proper floor pump.
Blasting your bike with a water hose can cause problems when it gets down into your components and can cause rusting of certain metal parts, especially if you use a pressure washer. However, you should still give your bike a thorough clean before you putting it away.
If you have somewhere outside to clean your bike then a bucket of warm water and car wash is the best thing for it, and on top of that use a degreaser for the drivetrain, brakes and anywhere else that’s particularly dirty.
First spray the degreaser on the ‘tough bits’ and let it soak in a bit. On the gears, chain and chainset you can use a toothbrush or dedicated cleaning brush to scrub the dirt out. It’s best to use separate brushes for the frame, brakes/wheels and drivetrain to avoid smearing grease and brake residue onto cleaner areas. Once the drivetrain is done move onto the brakes and rims. Wipe down the rims to remove any remaining grit or dirt, and check the brake pads for grit too, to remove it before it gets stuck.
When you’ve finished doing the dirty stuff then it’s time to clean the frame, forks, saddle and bars with standard car shampoo a good tool to use. Don’t forget to rinse the whole bike afterwards to stop the detergents breaking down the grease in the hubs, bottom brackets and headsets.
If you live in an apartment and you don’t want to cover the dining room floor with soapy water, then ‘wet wipes’ are a handy alternative. Buy something that is multi purpose and usually it will be strong enough to deal with greasy bike parts. Follow the same process of ‘dirty bits first’ and don’t use wipes that have grease on them for things like braking surfaces! Because most of these wipes contain alcohol, residue evaporates but it’s worth wiping down after with a rag to make sure there aren’t any corrosive chemicals left on your bike.
Investing in a bike stand will make this job much easier. Most come in adjustable sizes and are perfect for servicing, repairing, upgrading, inspecting and cleaning your bike.
As you’re cleaning the bike, make sure you give the frame the once-over. Scan for any signs of cracks, rust or dents, particularly near weld spots and on the bottom bracket, which support the majority of the bike’s weight as well as yours, and can therefore be more susceptible to damage, especially if you often find yourself lost along a bumpy gravel or dirt track.
While you’re wiping down your tires, check your wheels for loose or broken spokes, and spin the wheels and look to make sure that they still spin smoothly & brake correctly. You want your wheels to spin perfectly straight, and definitely no rubbing against the brake pads. If your wheels don’t spin straight, it’s probably time to take your bike to a mechanic for a wheel truing. At the same time, inspect the alignment of the brake pads to check that they are braking evenly and not touching your tires.
A fresh coat of lubricant on your chain after cleaning will help protect against rust and have you ready to go when it’s time to ride again in the spring. Make sure you invest in some proper chain cleaner and lube.
Also, to avoid problems with rusting and/or stiff and sticky cables (if you have any) next spring, take a couple of minutes to lubricate the cables that control your brakes and shifting. Just rub a few drops of light lubricant on any exposed cable and work it through the cable housing.
Now that you’ve prepped your bike for storage there’s no point letting it sit in a dirty garage or basement for months without protecting it from dust. You need to get yourself a bike cover. The Scicon Bike Cover Road is perfect for storing your bike at home (Scicon Bike Cover MTB also available). Made from a soft, shrink and tear-resistant material with water repellent technology – it’ll keep your bike protected all winter.