Tag Archives: Bike care

Outside Bike Storage: Preserving its Condition While Battling Mother Nature

by Jess Leong, HaveFunBiking.com

 If you’re like the many people who ride bikes, you may have selected or been forced to use outside bike storage where your bicycle has to fend for itself in all the elements. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially since many people don’t have a place to store their bikes inside.

We mentioned in a previous article that if you’re unable to store a bike indoors, that you can usually find a nearby bike shop that can store your bike for you – especially through the winter. However, sometimes even this isn’t possible and outside bike storage is your only option. Perhaps there are no bike shops that offer that service nearby, or perhaps the cost in doing that would be out of your budget. Whatever the reason, here’s what you need to know to store your bike outside for a couple day or indefinable.

What Happens When You Use Outside Bike Storage for your Bicycle

As many can guess, bikes left outside in rain or snow can rust.

Newer bikes fare better in the outside elements because the seals on the bike’s components are tighter than on older or more worn bicycles. Being well-sealed allows it to block out moisture from making its way inside and corroding the bike from inside and out. Leaving these new bikes out for a few days or even a week might not be a problem. However, the longer it is left outdoors, the more problems the rider will see – this is especially true for older bikes. Older bikes can degrade faster since they have been weathered down over time.

What you can expect to see is rust forming on the chain and gears before affecting the rest of the bike. This can make the drivetrain brittle over time, and cause problems when shifting gears and riding.

We know rain and moisture can cause problems, but did you know humidity and heat can also be a problem? In the summer, keeping your bike in direct sunlight can cause problems in certain areas on your bike as well. The direct light can cause rubber and plastic to harden, leaving tires, seats, grips, and cable housing brittle.

Additionally, bikes that are left outside also run the risk of being vandalized or stolen. According to the National Bike Registry, over 1.5 million bikes are stolen every year with less than 3 percent being returned. Besides running the risk of corrosion, you run the risk of never seeing your bike again.

What You Can Do If Using Outside Bike Storage

Place a Bike Tent Over Your Bike

It’s not recommended to place a tarp directly on your bike because it can work like a green house, accumulating heat and moisture. Heat can affect your plastic or rubber parts and degrade them. When it’s cold or rainy, it can trap the water vapor. The moisture can then settle on your bicycle, corroding it.

A bike tent, however, allows a shelter from the elements, while also allowing air to circulate any moisture away. Bike tents aren’t expensive compared to some options and are generally easy to put together.

If your bike does get wet, wipe down the bike so the water doesn’t sit to long.

 Lube and Grease Your Bike – Especcially with Outside Bike Storage

Place waterproof grease over areas that might be breached by water, such as screw holes, bolt heads, or bearings. The grease will create a barrier against water, stopping it from getting through. Lubing up your chain and other appropriate parts of the bike is also a helpful way to create a barrier from any moisture. Using a wet lube rather than dry lube is key. Dry bike lubricant will wash away easily and doesn’t provide any protection from corrosion.

Use the Bike

This doesn’t mean you should ride the bike outside during a blizzard. Instead, lift it up and turn the pedals. Moving it around can help with reducing rust. Over time, dust, dirt, or grime can get into the shifter and fine mechanical parts, so using the bike can knock this stuff off – especially if you’re riding it.

Remember, the salt from the road can affect the bike! Salt affects aluminum or alloy parts. So, if you take it for a spin, make sure to wipe down your bike afterwards and clean it.

Replacing Components to Last

Many factors affect how quickly and badly a bike can corrode. While storing a bike indoors is the best option, sometimes it’s not possible. Following the above steps should help minimize the buildup of rust. It can also limit mechanical problems that may occur.

Trying to limit corroding factors is the best you can do. Some people who know they will store bike outside under a cover or in a bike tent will opt to spend extra money to ‘upgrade’ their bikes. The bikes they tend to buy are already considered ‘durable’. Then, they change out parts to other materials that are less likely to rust over time. Some bikers also will opt for a ‘rustproof’ labeled chain. If this isn’t possible, then frequent bike maintenance and greasing is the way to go. This ends up being the key factor that many bikers rely on if they are storing their wheels outdoors.

Be aware, if you store your bike outside, there will be more maintenance required than if you stored your bike indoors. Keeping up with this maintenance might seem a little daunting, but it is well worth the effort. Why? Because come spring, your bike will be ready to go and have minimal rust and problems.

Giving back to the trails, paths, roads and events you enjoy is a great way to stockpile some good karma and it’s fun! There are countless ways to give back.

Bike Maintenance: Best Time to Bring in Your Bike to the Shop

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by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

As the mercury hovers below freezing this is the perfect time for bike maintenance to prepare your bicycle for sunnier days. There are many benefits to bringing your bike into the shop during the ‘down’ winter months rather than waiting for the spring season to come around.

Here in the photo above these bike maintenance shop mechanic’s at Penn Cycle are waiting for your bike. While waiting they are putting bicycles together for Free Bikes 4 Kidz,

1. Bike Maintenance at the Shop 

Most shops operate on a “first in / first out” repair schedule. This means during the busy months there may be weeks of bicycles ahead of yours in line to be repaired. Bring your bicycle in during the winter to be repaired. The repair time will be the same, but the waiting list will be shorter.

2. Discounts, Deals, and More!

The fall and winter weather may discourage riders from going out, but bike shops still need to do business. In order to draw customers, bike shops sometimes offer special pricing on different services, bikes, or parts. Additionally, lots of shops offer free clinics, demos, and presentations as well!

3. Employees can Offer their Expertise and Undivided Attention

It’s no secret that winter in a bike shop is slow. What better time to talk with sales people and mechanics? Need to know what bike type might work best for you? Is a fat bike right for you? Is that biking glove really better than the one you already have? If it’s a question about the service or adjustments to your bike, they are likely to spend more time with you and not be rushed.

The spring and summer packs the mechanics’ schedules, and their focus needs to be on completing repairs. During the winter they have much more time to spend with customers, educating them on how their bike functions.

Spring and summer for the sales staff is similar. They tend to be busy trying to attend to every customer in the shop. But in the fall and winter less people come in, so they can focus on one thing – you.

John Brown is a writer for HaveFunBiking.com.

Bike Storage: Preparation Check List and Options For Your Bicycle

Jess Leong, HaveFunBiking.com

Unless you are using your bike this upcoming winter, then preparing for bike storage is one thing that should be on your list of things-to-do this fall. Doing it now will save you time come early spring when you just want to grab those handlebars and get out there on the road and trail. Plus, proper storage means extending the longevity of your bike – and who wouldn’t want that? If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it is that bikes are not cheap. That’s why bike storage is so important.

1. Secure a Bike Storage Location

Some stores offer bike storage with fall winterizing/tune-up at their shop.

Some stores offer bike storage that is included with the price of a fall winterizing/tune-up at their shop.

Whether the location is a place in your basement, in your garage, or somewhere else that allows the bike to take shelter from the snow, make sure there’s enough room for your bike. Not sure where to put the bike for the winter? There are many bike shops that will store the bike for you. Though it does come at a cost it may be included in a fall winterizing/tune-up fee. Letting your bike sit outside is tempting and easy, but can cause problems come spring. These problems may need more maintenance to repair. Or, in most cases, causes the frame to rust (whether internally or externally). That longevity we mentioned? Rust and maintenance issues are some ways to really cut down that lifespan of your bike.

Tip: If possible, hang your bike to save some space on the ground.

2. Frame Care: Brushing and Wiping it Down

Note that it says ‘wiping it down’ and not ‘spraying’. Spraying your bike down with a hose can cause water to get into unprotected parts of the bike. This stray water can cause rusting of some metal components. Some wonder how this can be when we sometimes ride our bikes in the rain. In the event of spraying, the water can enter in from other angles (with more force mind you) and therefore the moisture can get into parts that it might not have during a normal rainy day. And yes, rain on the bike – without proper care – can also cause the bike to rust! However, just because you’re not ‘watering it down’ with a hose doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean it carefully before storage. How do you do this? By using good old fashioned elbow grease and by taking a soft-bristled brush to the frame and wheels.

Some experts recommend moving the brush in a circular pattern for optimal cleaning ability. Honestly this can be done in any way including a simple back and forth scrubbing motion. The purpose of the brush is to remove any and all debris that has made the bike their home. That dried mud, stuck-on grass, any dust, all of that should be brushed off as much as you can.

Then, once you’ve gone over the bike, take a damp rag and wipe down the entire bike. This wipe down will remove anything that is still stuck onto the bike.

3. Before Bike Storage Look Over the Frame for Problems

If you have room in your garage for bike storage by hanging bikes above your car, this will conserve space.

If you have room in your garage for bike storage by hanging bikes above your car, this will conserve space.

It’s important to check your bike for structural integrity and this can be done while cleaning, or after you brush and wipe down your wheels. Are there any cracks? Any parts in the frame that’s bent in a way that it shouldn’t be, or looks suspicious? Pay special attention to the spots where the metal connects (welded areas) and the bottom bracket. These areas undergo the majority of the stress when out biking and should be checked carefully. The last thing you want is for the bike to come apart when you take it for a spin.

4. Tire Care: Inflation, Cleaning, and Inspection

Remember to fully inflate your tires and do a check to ensure the tire integrity is still intact. Are there any cuts in the sidewall or tire punctures that might have escaped your notice? If that’s in the clear, check out the spokes of your tire visually. Check to see if any of them look broken or loose. Nothing? Then, take the wheel and give it a gentle spin while watching the spokes and wheel. Make sure the wheel isn’t wobbling or spinning at an angle.

Is there anything wrong with the brake pads? Are they still in good shape and working condition? They shouldn’t be rubbing up against the wheel, be at an angle away from the tires, nor should they be loose. If your brake pad is looking worn down, it’s time to get it changed. Something you don’t want to forget about over the long winter months ahead, especially when a spring ride pops up.

Once everything looks good, give the tire a good wipe down to clean any debris that might be on it before bike storage.

5. Drivetrain Care: Cleaning and Lubrication

It’s time to get down and dirty by cleaning the cassette, crank, and the chain of your bike. Admittedly, this is probably one of the least glamorous parts of cleaning your bike due to the grease, but it’s something that is really important. After all, this is what helps you propel your bike forward to that #nextbikeadventure. Properly cleaning and lubricating these three items, and making sure there’s no leftover debris or major wear, will help keep rust away and keep you safe.

Reminder: According to Brad, from One Ten Cycles, a chain should be changed when it looks worn or if you have ridden with it for two to three thousand miles. It is at that point when the chain begins to stretch, though this can vary person to person. How fast the chain ‘stretches’ and needs replacing will depends on your riding pattern (recreational biking, mountain biking, etc), how well it’s been taken care of, and how often it’s cleaned. While some people will continue to ride well past the time of when the chain should be changed, Brad noted that the wear pattern of the chain will eventually transfer to the cassette. If the cassette is worn down, it can cause issues when putting on a new chain (to the point that you may have to replace both the chain and cassette together).

Unsure if your chain is worn? The only reliable way to check is with a chain checker gauge (generally a $8 tool) to measure the stretch of the chain. It will gauge when it’s time to replace it before causing wear on the cassette.

6. Cable Care: Inspection and Lubrication

Did you know cables can rust too? Just like the rest of the bike, these need to be inspected for frays or other potential problems to keep you bike rides safe. If nothing seems frayed then you can go ahead and lubricate the cables. This is important to prevent rust from forming on them and weakening the cables. To apply the lubrication, add some lubricant to a rag – only a little is needed at first – and rub it into the exposed cable, rubbing back and forth to ensure that the lubricant gets in throughout the cable and isn’t just on the surface.

Reminder: If your cables are fraying, you can try to repair the cables – particularly if it’s at the end of the cable. If it’s really bad or you’re unable to do it yourself, you can bring in your bicycle to your favorite bike shop and they would be happy to help you out before bike storage!

7. (Optional) Handgrips and Saddle: Wipe it Down and Replace if Desired

This is more for aesthetics rather than functionality. Looking over and cleaning the handgrips and saddle seat now can make it more exciting to ride in the spring. If your saddle seat or grips have a tear and you’d like to replace them, now is the time to do so.  You don’t want to get caught up trying to do that when you just want to get out there and ride in the spring.

8. Remove Batteries Before Bike Storage

Anything that has batteries should be removed to make sure leakage doesn’t affect your bike or the area where the bike is stored. This means taking out the batteries (or lights) of flashers, front/back lights, headlights, and the like.

If the battery is not able to be removed easily or without assistance, make sure the battery is fully charged before placing it in that storage location mentioned at the beginning!

9. Clearing Out Bike Bags and Holders

Make sure you’re checking those panniers and trunk bags thoroughly to ensure they are

When preparing for bike storage you cant easily remove the battery, like this e-Bike, make sure the battery is fully charged and check every couple months.

When preparing for bike storage you cant easily remove the battery, like this e-Bike, make sure the battery is fully charged and check every couple months.

cleared out, clean and ready to go into storage. Finding a moldy sandwich or leftover snack from last year that bugs and mice are munching on might put a cramp on the start of your next ride season, after finding that. Also, remember to remove the water bottles from your bike, wash them out properly and put them away. We can guarantee that the water won’t be so inviting by the next time you ride!

This might take some time, but it is time that is well invested. You’ll pat yourself on the back once the weather warms up next spring, begging you to get out there and HaveFunBiking.

Jess Leong is a writer for HaveFunBiking.com.