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Old 12-15-07, 09:56 PM   #1
thedon
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Slush gonna ruin my bike?

I haven't taken my bike out in the slush yet partly for fear of the salt getting into parts and ruining them. I am concerned about chain/drivetrain over the aluminum frame rusting. Lots of questions, see if you can answer them all.

1.) What is there that I can do to preserve the bike? I am unable to hose it off, so that is out of the question.

2.) Is there a special chain lube that I should use? I am broke so replacing parts at the end of winter is out of the question, apart from the chain maybe.

3.) Would I be better off just riding my 80's Panasonic Sport LX over my Trek Portland while the salt is on the ground?

4.) Also, if I rode the Panasonic in the slush but the good bike while roads are dry but still salty, would that be a good strategy or will salt being kicked into chain under the Portland's 1/2-fenders still be harmful?
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Old 12-15-07, 10:13 PM   #2
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Things to watch: Bottom bracket, chain, derailleurs, and headset bearings. I just had to rebuild my headset this week, and I've noticed a lot of BB carnage in this kind of stuff. I use marine axle grease (for boat trailers) when I re-pack the bearings and that usually helps a lot.
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Old 12-15-07, 10:32 PM   #3
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Just go ride. The stuff about rust is way overblown. Lube your chain and you'll be good.

If you're really worried about your nice bike, ride the old one.
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Old 12-15-07, 10:53 PM   #4
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I hose off my Portland in the shower stall. Of course, I'm single. Not sure if that's a cause or effect.

Anyway, all metal corrodes, but none so exuberantly as iron. Fortunately, there's very little of it on a Portland. My trusty fridge magnet tells me the brake rotors, FD cage and chain have the most of it. There's a little tug from the cassette, but not enough to lift the small cog by itself--nothing to worry about. Other than that, a fastener or two and bearings.

The BB bearings are sealed cartridge, as are the wheel bearings and the headset. I don't know if that's good, bad or indifferent. I've heard unsubstantiated reports of corrosion--presumably bearings--in the brake calipers.

As for chain lube, your question invites almost religious zealotry. I'll stick to the general advice of "wet" lubes for wet conditions and "dry" lube for dry conditions.

From my experience last year, not even an obsessive amount of cleaning and oiling kept all chain rust at bay. The side plates were turning brown by springtime. But other than some surface rust on a few screw heads, last year's winter bike was none the worse for wear. Except of course for the rims which were worn concave by the brakes.

As for which to ride? That's your decision. I bought my Portland specifically as a winter-worthy road bike, and I'm using it that way daily.


Last edited by tsl; 12-15-07 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 12-15-07, 11:21 PM   #5
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Get some mud flaps for your fenders, especially the front one. Helps keep slush and dirt off of the BB area.

Keeping the chain rust free is... well... unless you really lube practically every day which costs money...
The chain will collect road grime even if you have fenders and have it well lubed.
Not the best picture, but my mud flap hovers about 1in off the ground. Note the lack of road grime build up at the BB area.


Aluminum is already rusted on the surface, so unless you scratch it, it should be fine. Even then, pure aluminum reacts almost instantly with air and produces Aluminum-oxide. It is a very tough material and is often used for sand paper for very fine grits.
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Old 12-15-07, 11:38 PM   #6
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I hose off my Portland in the shower stall. Of course, I'm single. Not sure if that's a cause or effect.

Anyway, all metal corrodes, but none so exuberantly as iron. Fortunately, there's very little of it on a Portland. My trusty fridge magnet tells me the brake rotors, FD cage and chain have the most of it. There's a little tug from the cassette, but not enough to lift the small cog by itself--nothing to worry about. Other than that, a fastener or two and bearings.

The BB bearings are sealed cartridge, as are the wheel bearings and the headset. I don't know if that's good, bad or indifferent. I've heard unsubstantiated reports of corrosion--presumably bearings--in the brake calipers.

As for chain lube, your question invites almost religious zealotry. I'll stick to the general advice of "wet" lubes for wet conditions and "dry" lube for dry conditions.

From my experience last year, not even an obsessive amount of cleaning and oiling kept all chain rust at bay. The side plates were turning brown by springtime. But other than some surface rust on a few screw heads, last year's winter bike was none the worse for wear. Except of course for the rims which were worn concave by the brakes.

As for which to ride? That's your decision. I bought my Portland specifically as a winter-worthy road bike, and I'm using it that way daily.
How does that Arkel Tail Rider bag work for you?

I've been considering one to replace the trunk bag I have that's starting to disintegrate from being in the sun so much the past few years.

Either that or an Ortleib Bike Box 2, but the Arkel has price in it's favor.
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Old 12-15-07, 11:47 PM   #7
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What size is your Portland tsl? Mine is a 56cm and I have always wondered if it looks too small for my 6 foot body, although it is fairly comfortable to ride. I got it on cs so I didn't have a choice on the size.

I use Boeshield T9 for chain, is that considered a wet lube? I have never been confident in my chain lubing strategy, after a short 10 mile ride chain is caked in black gunk that is impossible to get 100% clean with paper towels and degreaser.

I might hold off riding the Portland in wet conditions, but what about dry days? Will the dry salt still find its way into harmful places?

Even if I do ride in wet conditions it will be less than 2 miles a day because I will be on campus this year, will that make a difference in the long run or it just as bad as riding 10+miles/day in your opinion?
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Old 12-15-07, 11:53 PM   #8
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How does that Arkel Tail Rider bag work for you?
I like my Tailrider a lot. I have terrible packrat syndrome. So while everyone else is looking for bigger trunk bags, I was looking for smaller. The Tailrider is just about perfect for me.

It holds bike tools, tube, and my Noah's Ark Lunch (two sandwiches, two apples, two oranges, two granola bars) a library book, pants and U-lock in the main compartment. Glasses, wallet and keys in one outer compartment, digicam, flash drive and spare battery pack in the other. I can strap a jacket or more library books under the load straps on the top.

The waterproof zippers are truly that, although when loaded, there's a little gap at either corner of the rear flap. Fortunately, the built-in rain bonnet works as advertised. I've got nine months and maybe 3,000 miles on it and the only wear is from the screwheads on the rack rubbing the bottom. Water still beads up on it.

If I were to redesign it, I'd make the main compartment just a smidge bigger so I could put my library book on the bottom instead of the top, make the inner divider movable, not just removable, and partition one of the outer compartments so my keys don't sink to the bottom and slide around.
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Old 12-16-07, 12:13 AM   #9
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What size is your Portland tsl? Mine is a 56cm and I have always wondered if it looks too small for my 6 foot body, although it is fairly comfortable to ride. I got it on cs so I didn't have a choice on the size.
Mine's also a 56. I'm 5'-10", but I'm all arms and legs, no torso. I wasn't too sure since my other Trek is a 58, but my fitter said the differences between the bikes made the 56 the right size for me in the Portland. After we got done, I have to agree.

You'll notice I have a setback seatpost and a lot of it exposed in order to accommodate my legs. We had to put a taller stem on to compensate. After that, the bike fits like it was made-to-measure. I took it on a century within two weeks of buying it and felt just as fresh at the end as I did at the start.

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I use Boeshield T9 for chain, is that considered a wet lube? I have never been confident in my chain lubing strategy, after a short 10 mile ride chain is caked in black gunk that is impossible to get 100% clean with paper towels and degreaser.
I don't know about Boeshield. I think ax0n said he uses it. Maybe he can help. I just asked my mechanic which wet lube he recommended and he handed me Pedro's SynLube. How does it compare to others? I have no clue. It's all I've used in the winter/wet. I *do* like its dispenser tip--very easy to apply just a drop.

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I might hold off riding the Portland in wet conditions, but what about dry days? Will the dry salt still find its way into harmful places?
Salt dust finds its way into my nostrils, so I suppose it could get in elsewhere. Of course it doesn't do anything until it gets wet. Then it makes me sneeze.

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Even if I do ride in wet conditions it will be less than 2 miles a day because I will be on campus this year, will that make a difference in the long run or it just as bad as riding 10+miles/day in your opinion?
I can't say. I my commutes are 1.5, 2 and 4.5 miles each way. If I were to speculate, I'd say the distance isn't as important as cleanup and storage. I have no facts to back that up.
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Old 12-16-07, 03:26 AM   #10
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This is my Trusty steed, the '08 Trek portland. Mine is slightly smaller than yours, a 52, and it fits me perfectly. My commutes vary between 6-14 mi. a day, often in the rain (i live in portland, you see) and it works great. Granted, i swiched out the fenderettes and got full fenders (which i HIGHLY recommend for winter commuting), but its working great. The most important thing i'd say is to keep it clean as much as possible. I clean/lube my chain 1-2x a week with heavy, industrial strength oven/grill degreaser depending on how long it sits in the rain (I believe i am using a DRY lube, as it seems to get flushed out everytime it sits in the rain), and i TRY to wipe it down with a dry cloth after every ride. No water or soap, just a dry rag. It gets most, if not all of the gunk off the frame which could lead to rust if left unchecked. If i were you, i would throw some full fenders on your Portland, buy some wet lube, and wipe it down everynight with a dry rag. This should keep it nice and purty all winter long.

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Old 12-16-07, 04:16 AM   #11
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I think it depends how much time you can put into maintenance during the winter. My chain rusts in spite of frequent lubing. My front derailleur seized last year and so did one of the cantilevers on my front brake. This was after a few winters.

There's also mistakes I made. I hung my bike up at work in my office so as junk thawed it dripped down onto the rest of the bike instead of straight onto the throw rugs I have on the floor. This year I leave it on the floor, wipe it down more often and try to keep a thin coat of oil on any exposed steel parts. My frame has been OK, it's the steel parts of components that have suffered.

I'll see how things go this year but given my past experience I would choose an old reliable bike over a new one for the winter unless I had a pretty healthy bike budget, - which I don't.
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Old 12-16-07, 04:33 AM   #12
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. . . .i TRY to wipe it down with a dry cloth after every ride. No water or soap, just a dry rag. It gets most, if not all of the gunk off the frame which could lead to rust if left unchecked. . . .
I do the same thing. I wipe the bike down with a dry rag after wet rides. And after several winters, I have no signs of rust. I do replace te chain once or twice a year, but that's from normal wear and tear.

I notice that my bike gets a lot dirtier in summer dry spells because I have to actually wash it to keep it clean.
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Old 12-16-07, 05:12 AM   #13
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In my stay in Vermont it wrecked drivetrains. I couldnt keep up with it
But, they salt insanely and there is a l lot of foreign objectage in the salt which
didnt help either. Between the salt and the road scum I switched to a coaster
braked SS Dept store chunker to finish out out my sentence there and was happy.
What worked for me but Im sure not appreciated by others, was to drench the
whole bike ( not tires, obviously) in WD-40 after every commute.
After 25 mile day in snow and sub zero weather I really didnt feel like doing more
than that.
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Old 12-16-07, 07:09 AM   #14
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How does that Arkel Tail Rider bag work for you?
I love mine. I always need to carry something, but don't want to get into the habit of carrying too much. The size keeps that tendency in control. Ditto on all that tsl said. It expands nicely. The compartments are extremely well designed and convenient. It's superbly easy on and off, but very stable on. About three seconds to make a switch. Beautiful workmanship. I am becoming a Big fan of Canada since I also just got Baffin boots for this winter folly and they are like slippers and toasty warm. The only negative would be if your really need to carry more than a change of clothes and some of this and that. I thought about the bug, which also becomes a backpack, but that was more than I needed.

TSL -- Great shot of your bike in the snow. Winter right here is starting to look PRETTY DARNED SNOWY! Bring it on.
As to lubing.... much to learn. much to learn.
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Old 12-16-07, 08:24 AM   #15
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I use Boeshield T9 for chain, is that considered a wet lube? I have never been confident in my chain lubing strategy, after a short 10 mile ride chain is caked in black gunk that is impossible to get 100% clean with paper towels and degreaser.
That's because you aren't cleaning all the powdered medal and dirt out from between the rollers. Try taking the chain off and soaking it in degreaser or solvent. Sheldon Brown has a page describing the process here. Your chain should look cleaner and last longer if you clean it the way that Sheldon recommends.
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Old 12-16-07, 06:54 PM   #16
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Wipe the chain down and take a brush to the cassette after every ride. It only takes a few minutes, and you don't necessarily have to re-lube every time you wipe it down. The lube is effective between the rivets and bushings, so you can wipe the grime off the outside of the chain without drying the chain up too much.
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Old 12-16-07, 09:03 PM   #17
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I just ride. All it gets in the winter is chain lube, light batteries charged, and the chain changed out if it gets worn out. In the summer I hit it with the power washer on the weekend if it's dirty. I just let stuff go until it's worn out. I ride every day of the year including over slush/salt/whatever, and I had to replace the bottom bracket at 11,500 miles (it was $20) and I have to replace the chain every 1800 miles because I ride over really dirty gravel roads that mean it's not possible for me to keep the chain clean, but that's it.

Aluminum doesn't rust. Or rather, it corrodes instantly, and the aluminum oxide forms a protective seal.

Cleaning chains is going to be different for every person. I've experimented and determined that it's pointless for me because I ride over quite dirty gravel roads for nearly half of my ride every day. I could clean and degrease my chain every day and I probably wouldn't get any more miles out of it. I actually HAVE tried cleaning it weekly and it made NO difference at all over just squirting oil on and wiping it down. Others who are not riding on this kind of grunge will have different results so to some extent you will have to figure it out for yourself.
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Old 12-16-07, 09:46 PM   #18
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I haven't taken my bike out in the slush yet partly for fear of the salt getting into parts and ruining them. I am concerned about chain/drivetrain over the aluminum frame rusting. Lots of questions, see if you can answer them all.

1.) What is there that I can do to preserve the bike? I am unable to hose it off, so that is out of the question.

2.) Is there a special chain lube that I should use? I am broke so replacing parts at the end of winter is out of the question, apart from the chain maybe.

3.) Would I be better off just riding my 80's Panasonic Sport LX over my Trek Portland while the salt is on the ground?

4.) Also, if I rode the Panasonic in the slush but the good bike while roads are dry but still salty, would that be a good strategy or will salt being kicked into chain under the Portland's 1/2-fenders still be harmful?
Hey, thedon, I notice you are from Madison, Wisconsin. The tap water in Madison is noticeably salty to visitors because the years of salting the roads have leeched into the local wells. Although Madison has tried to cut back on using salt on the roads, it is still being used. I joke with my friends that if you boil your eggs with Madison tap water, you don't have to salt your eggs. I wonder if Madison has to import ice-cubes because their own water won't freeze .

That salt is not good for your bicycle. It is difficult to predict which parts are most likely to be affected most. Obviously, anything steel is going to suffer. Your frame might be aluminum, but the tiny screws in your derailures, for example, are probably steel and will corrode.

I find that the the most effected part is usually spokes. Unless you have really good quality stainless steel spokes, they are going to bite the dust.

It is difficult to imagine how destructive salt can be to a bicycle until you use if for a winter season. One really gains respect for how tough automobiles after seeing how road slush eats up a bicycle. If you have a leather saddle, remember that the road slush will sling to the underside of you saddle and cause it to retire early as well.

Winter road bicycling in northern USA calls for the use of disposable bicycles. If you bicycle is dear to you, get a cheap-0- for winter
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Old 12-17-07, 08:32 AM   #19
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Hey, thedon, I notice you are from Madison, Wisconsin. The tap water in Madison is noticeably salty to visitors because the years of salting the roads have leeched into the local wells. Although Madison has tried to cut back on using salt on the roads, it is still being used. I joke with my friends that if you boil your eggs with Madison tap water, you don't have to salt your eggs. I wonder if Madison has to import ice-cubes because their own water won't freeze .

That salt is not good for your bicycle. It is difficult to predict which parts are most likely to be affected most. Obviously, anything steel is going to suffer. Your frame might be aluminum, but the tiny screws in your derailures, for example, are probably steel and will corrode.

I find that the the most effected part is usually spokes. Unless you have really good quality stainless steel spokes, they are going to bite the dust.

It is difficult to imagine how destructive salt can be to a bicycle until you use if for a winter season. One really gains respect for how tough automobiles after seeing how road slush eats up a bicycle. If you have a leather saddle, remember that the road slush will sling to the underside of you saddle and cause it to retire early as well.

Winter road bicycling in northern USA calls for the use of disposable bicycles. If you bicycle is dear to you, get a cheap-0- for winter
Fenders help a LOT with all of these problems. My somewhat-expensive commuter (Surly LHT) has made it through one winter, and we're starting another that promises to be extremely snowy (and, therefore, salty as well). The most affected part of the bike is definitely the drivetrain. Good fenders with mudflaps cause most of the grime to get no higher than the rear wheel, chainstays and bottom bracket shell. I've got a leather saddle, but fenders cause me to be sublimely unconcerned - no road slush has a chance of making it past the fender and platform-top rear rack. When things start to get really messy, I'll give the bike a gentle cleaning with a damp rag and then dry it off. The chain needs to be lubed continuously, but that's not a big deal.

There's no need to go cheap or use a disposable bike - what a wasteful idea! - in the winter. Proper equipment and care will keep even a nice bike in good condition. That's not to say that it's a bad idea to have a dedicated winter bike, but even if it's a cheap one (I have a singlespeed beater myself), there is every reason to try and preserve it. It doesn't cost as much to maintain a winter bike as it does to replace one.
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Old 12-17-07, 09:29 AM   #20
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It is difficult to imagine how destructive salt can be to a bicycle until you use if for a winter season. One really gains respect for how tough automobiles after seeing how road slush eats up a bicycle.
Not so much with me.

I have five years daily winter commuting on my MTB and have yet to corrode anything enough to effect it's operation.

A few chains maybe, that were wore out anyways.
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Old 12-17-07, 09:33 AM   #21
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Fenders help a LOT with all of these problems. My somewhat-expensive commuter (Surly LHT) has made it through one winter, and we're starting another that promises to be extremely snowy (and, therefore, salty as well). The most affected part of the bike is definitely the drivetrain. Good fenders with mudflaps cause most of the grime to get no higher than the rear wheel, chainstays and bottom bracket shell. I've got a leather saddle, but fenders cause me to be sublimely unconcerned - no road slush has a chance of making it past the fender and platform-top rear rack. When things start to get really messy, I'll give the bike a gentle cleaning with a damp rag and then dry it off. The chain needs to be lubed continuously, but that's not a big deal.

There's no need to go cheap or use a disposable bike - what a wasteful idea! - in the winter. Proper equipment and care will keep even a nice bike in good condition. That's not to say that it's a bad idea to have a dedicated winter bike, but even if it's a cheap one (I have a singlespeed beater myself), there is every reason to try and preserve it. It doesn't cost as much to maintain a winter bike as it does to replace one.
+1 Same situation for me. I have a LHT with full fenders and a front mudflap. The bike stays relatively clean in wet/salty conditions. The drivetrain gets dirty and requires more maintenance, and I wash the bike a lot more in the winter, but it's holding up fine.
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Old 12-17-07, 09:35 AM   #22
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I haven't taken my bike out in the slush yet partly for fear of the salt getting into parts and ruining them. I am concerned about chain/drivetrain over the aluminum frame rusting. Lots of questions, see if you can answer them all.

1.) What is there that I can do to preserve the bike? I am unable to hose it off, so that is out of the question.

2.) Is there a special chain lube that I should use? I am broke so replacing parts at the end of winter is out of the question, apart from the chain maybe.

3.) Would I be better off just riding my 80's Panasonic Sport LX over my Trek Portland while the salt is on the ground?

4.) Also, if I rode the Panasonic in the slush but the good bike while roads are dry but still salty, would that be a good strategy or will salt being kicked into chain under the Portland's 1/2-fenders still be harmful?
What's your alternative to riding? Cycling is probably the second-least expensive mode of transport, aside from walking. $4 a day in bus fare will easily pay for any replacement parts you need in the spring. Keep everything well lubricated, and wipe down your bike with an old rag when you're done riding. You'll be fine.
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Old 12-17-07, 09:44 AM   #23
noisebeam
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I just lost a nice BB to rain. It was the unsealed loose bearing type. I knew I needed to rebuild after getting wet, but it was several rain days in a row and I was planning to overhaul it after. Apparently just a few rides in the rain can destroy BB's. I replaced it with a sealed BB.

The rain:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCkyCUaY0Eg

Al
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Old 12-17-07, 11:23 AM   #24
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Hey Portland riders: this is my second winter with my Portland and with all the snow we've had around here I've basically hung it up. My winter/rain bike -- a hybrid -- is a 7 speed (in the rear) with full fenders and studded tires.

My biggest problem with the Portland in the snow was -- aside from the fact that I have 28 mm slicks on it -- the 10 speed drive train. That got gunked up too easily for me last year. You guys have any problems?

Sorry about being off-topic.
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Old 12-17-07, 01:27 PM   #25
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What do you mean by gunked up? Snow packed into the cassette? If so, I haven't had any issues yet. But it's still early in the season.

I am holding my hybrid in reserve just in case. I have the Nokian W106s on the Portland, but have found the lower bars and my preference to ride the hoods affects front/rear weight distribution. I don't remember ever spinning the rear wheel last year on the hybrid. It happens on the Portland occassionally, especially when climbing. It's not a biggie, just something I've noticed.

Are you using the Portland's stock fenderettes or full coverage fenders?
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