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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 01-03-10, 10:51 AM   #1
Barrettscv 
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Steel bikes in Winter

My other bikes cannot easily accept fenders, so I picked up a $170 bike that will be updated for winter dry-road travel & 150 mile/week commuting that will begin again in March.

The bike is a 1987 Trek 400D Elance. Its a mid-level "sport/touring" model. It has a Reynolds 531 main triangle. It's a steel bike.

I will;

Disassemble the bike to clean and regrease the BB and headset.
Treat the frame with J.P. Weigle's bicycle frame saver rust inhibitor while disassembled.
Install full length fenders with a skirt at the bottom of the front fender to reduce spray.
Avoid the salt-bath by staying off wet and/or icy roads until March.

I'm assuming that the bike won't dissolve into powder.

Opinions?

Michael
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Old 01-03-10, 10:55 AM   #2
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The bike will be fine.
Just don't stick your tongue on the frame.
It's embarassing to have to call the rescue squad.....
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Old 01-03-10, 12:18 PM   #3
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Sorry to squeeze a question here but; Did you use square taper bb or external bearing bb ? I think, external ones will have better waterproof.
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Old 01-03-10, 02:45 PM   #4
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I live in a land where most ppl outside big cities still ride bikes round and mos tof those are steel frames.

Nobody greases them, nobody worries about the bearings, etc. they just use their 30 year old bikes to get from home to work, or to the train station or to the fields to hoe, plant, pick, etc,summer and winter, rain or shine... and they have no issues....

Just use the bike and have fun.

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Old 01-03-10, 05:06 PM   #5
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Install full length fenders with a skirt at the bottom of the front fender to reduce spray.
Avoid the salt-bath by staying off wet and/or icy roads until March.
I don't get it. Where's the winter part if you're not going to ride it until spring? Why put fenders on a dry road bike?
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Old 01-03-10, 05:08 PM   #6
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A little wax or a wipe down with light oil does wonders to protect the frame and other bits that might corrode.
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Old 01-03-10, 05:18 PM   #7
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Drill the bottom bracket so water/moisture drains out of the bike.
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Old 01-03-10, 05:33 PM   #8
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If it's fine after 22-3 years already, I wouldn't worry about framesavering it at this point.
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Old 01-03-10, 10:19 PM   #9
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Yeah, salt's the killer. Having said that, I used a steel framed bike for four years in the winter, - salt spray and all. The components suffered, and several needed to be replaced but the frame was still in good shape. It was a Specialized from 96 or so and the finish on it was very good. I also used an '87 Peugeot for one winter. I sold it last spring too (sniff). Peugeot made some nice bikes but they weren't known for their great finishes. That frame would have started to look like crap pretty quickly if I hadn't babied it.

SixtyFiver has some good tips with the wax on the frame and the oil on any unfinished parts. I've started doing that and it's made a difference.

I'm currently using another steel framed bike as my winter commuter. All things being equal, I'd prefer aluminum as I'd rather not have to worry about rust, but I'm not losing any sleep over it.
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Old 01-03-10, 11:29 PM   #10
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A few other things... those fenders will save you from more grief than you can imagine.

Besides keeping you and the bike cleaner it they will prevent the front wheel from throwing crap into the drive train (if they come down far enough) and up into the headset... water in the headset is the number one cause of bearing failure and the culprit is that front wheel.

Quite a few of my steel bikes have seen numerous winters (I only have one Al bike) and extreme conditions and are still looking as good as they did when I got them... and this is after 1000's upon 1000's of km of riding.
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Old 01-04-10, 11:26 AM   #11
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A little wax or a wipe down with light oil does wonders to protect the frame and other bits that might corrode.
That's what I did to my 90 or so Hardrock, and the only rust/paint problems I've noticed have been wear the new cables I installed rubbed against the frame.
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Old 01-04-10, 11:33 AM   #12
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Wouldn't having fenders on pretty much protect the bike from the salt, or is there something I don't understand here? It seems to me having fenders on cuts down on the amount of grime by at least 80%. If it does get salty, can't the bike just be washed?
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Old 01-04-10, 11:33 AM   #13
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Both my roadbike and SS commuter are steel. Both get ridden year round (even yesterday and today). I think you will do fine.
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Old 01-04-10, 12:25 PM   #14
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Wouldn't having fenders on pretty much protect the bike from the salt, or is there something I don't understand here? It seems to me having fenders on cuts down on the amount of grime by at least 80%. If it does get salty, can't the bike just be washed?
It's somewhat dependent on where you ride and the weather. Salt laden spray isn't as much of a concern on the bike trails or when it's really cold. On slushy wet streets though, my bike can get messy pretty fast, - fenders or not. Washing helps but it's usually too cold to do that outside. I will wipe it down and then.

As far as the outside of the frame goes, rust is typially only a problem where the finish has been compromised. Things with abrubt edges like braze-ons, bottom bracket shells can be trouble spots as well as other places where the paint is likely to get worn or chipped off. I noticed that my newer road bike has clear decals near the head tube where the cables come into the contact with the frame. On my old RockHopper, there was some rust where the cable had rubbed the paint off.

Sometimes salt can work it's way through the finish in little nooks and crannys too.
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Old 01-04-10, 01:21 PM   #15
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I'd also question the necessity of frame saver application. From what I hear, it's a nasty, sticky mess, and in my personal experience it isn't necessary.

My rain bike is a 4130 Cro-Mo tank. It's on it's second winter and doing fine after about 2700 miles, accumulated almost exclusively on wet/rainy days. I let it sit out in the rain all day while I'm at work. I clean and lube the chain maybe once a week. I wipe off all the crud about once a month. I don't do much else unless it needs it. I pulled the bottom bracket out recently, and the frame wasn't rusty in there. I do vigilantly grease any place where metal touches metal (all threads, stem, seat post, etc.).

Will it last 30 years being treated like this? I hope not. I'm looking for an excuse to buy something lighter, but so far no sign of that happening any time soon.

As I understand it, a thin layer of rust actually protects the underlying metal, but my rain bike doesn't even seem to have that yet.
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Old 01-04-10, 05:22 PM   #16
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Drill the bottom bracket so water/moisture drains out of the bike.
Is this wise?
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Old 01-04-10, 06:36 PM   #17
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Is this wise?
Personally I don't think it is wise to create another entry point for water/debris, but many disagree:

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?p=1189954
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Old 01-05-10, 07:54 AM   #18
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I was curious about little holes here and there, e.g. near the drop out on many chain stays. Finally heard and believe that they are a relic of manufacturing that is there to vent welding gases, not to serve any drainage function on assembled bikes. But I digress.

I figure if the pros were heavily weighted for a drain hole in the BB, then it would be standard on at least some higher end bikes. On the other hand, the cons are less stacked against it than they are in the canoe world, so enough of this.

That link is to an extraordinarily meticulous dude's work.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:24 AM   #19
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I have read about using clear silicone caulk for any areas you are worried about. I am building a steel bike this weekend and will put just a dab on the braze on's, head cups, seat tube and bb. I run full fenders and grease everything with marine grease when installed. It's a new frame with a comprimised re powdercoat job...I just hated the new blue. I will use framesaver on my frame and racks, a little insurance is worth 13 dollars.
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Old 01-07-10, 07:24 PM   #20
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Also wondering what windy city provides the oppotunity to ride thru the winter & avoid wet & salty roads. I live right on the coast & the temp is always hovering around freezing so the roads are always wet & after the first snow wet & sandy & salty. So salty that after 4 years of winter commuting black ice had only gotten me once.

I ride steel year round but the winter bike is low end. I oily rag the frame, leave it out when it rains, lube it & ride it. When bored I'll repack some bearing or other.
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