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  1. #1
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Freezing Cold Garage or Warm Basement

    The temps have plunged into the 20s and the ground is covered with snow.

    Should I put my bikes into my 55-60 degree basement or is okay to leave them in the garage all winter? There will be some sub-zero days during the winter. Does it make any real difference?

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Most definitely makes a difference. A cold Garage is not the best place to keep the bikes. Not for the bikes, they don't seem to care but when you have to work on the things- It is not a nice environment. Even a basement is not the best place- unless it is dry, warm and large. Best place I have found is the kitchen. Normally a good hard floor to clean up the mud and oil after a tinkering session and drinks are to hand. Far better is the lounge as the wife doesn't pass the comments that you are ignoring her, but the carpet does take a bit of cleaning afterwards.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  3. #3
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    stapfam is right on with his suggestion about the kitchen. The lighting is usually better! I restored my Collegiate in the kitchen while watching the TdF through the door on the TV in the next room this past July. It was a blast. Of course Ms. PB and the Rev's daughter were not home at the time and the Corgis didn't seem to mind!

    If you can park the bikes near the furnace (if it is in the basement) that would help with the issue of condensation (which is a concern if you own a steel bike frame). The furnace should help eliminate any excess moisture on the frame after a cold weather ride.
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  4. #4
    bobkat
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    Temps have "plunged into the 20's?" Wow, right now temps in the 20's up here would be a heat wave! Has been below zero here for about a week! Maybe birds are smarter than me when they head south for the winter! Except birds don't have bicycles!

  5. #5
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    I'd much rather discover a frozen cable while the bike is still at home in the garage than have it freese up enroute.

    Paul

  6. #6
    Slow ride, take it easy - Frankenbiker's Avatar
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    ^^ I resemble that remark.

    It rained hard on Thursday's commute home, soaking my bike. Friday morning the temperature had dropped below freezing and as I rode to work, I pulled on the rear brake and the brake cable froze as I held the brake. Stupid noodle. I was unable to break it free. As I was closer to work than home, I broke the 2mph barrier trying to ride my bike the rest of the way to work with the rear brake solidly engaged. I got strange looks from pedestrians.

  7. #7
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    So, I think the answer to your question about storing your bike all winter is that it doesn't really matter much. If you have a basement and there is a furnace, it is probably plenty dry down there for most any type of bike. OTOH, if the garage is also dry (I suspect that it is), then, that will also work fine as a storage location.

    Most of the bikes I have stored see very little service during the winter as I have only one that I ride regularly.

    It's the bike I ride regularly that needs the service - both in winter and summer - not because of the weather, but because of the normal wear and tear that occurs as I ride it (chains, mostly).

    I would store your bike in whatever location is most convenient and out of the way. Worse than anything that will happen to it due to some adverse indoor "climate" condition is physical damage that could occur if it gets squashed or run over or whatever.

    Bikes are pretty good at taking whatever we put them through as riders. They are more than capable of withstanding decent storage conditions (which yours seem to be).

    I say, park it and don't worry about it.

    Caruso

  8. #8
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    I think what you mean is storage for the whole winter ? It not the answer is different.

    If that's true you want the bikes in a place where the temperature does not change a lot. I would guess that is the basement. For example if it has been 20 for a while and everything in the garage is 20f including the bike, if it gets to 50f and you open the garage door there will be so much condensation on the bikes you can see it. The entire thing will be wet. It's the condensation and the temperature change more than the temperature alone. Even when you don't notice it there will be a small amount. This is how bikes stored in a dry shed can end up with rust on things in the spring. Just like single pane windows in winter, they get soaked.
    Also concrete is porus, water comes up through concrete just like a dirt floor. Don't put plastic over the bikes on a concrete garage floor they will get wet from the top down. As the water collects on the inside top of the plastic. You need plastic underneath on the floor to cover the bikes.
    Find a solid thing made of something dense, a steel vice or something like that. Leave it out side all night so it will be 20f. Then bring it in the house and just put it down and watch the water pour off it.
    This is why, if you are riding the bike, don't bring it in the house for 15 minutes to get soaked and then go out for a ride and get ice in the cables. If you are riding it, keep it out in the cold unless you can bring it in overnight to be totally dry before you go back out.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    The temps have plunged into the 20s and the ground is covered with snow.

    Should I put my bikes into my 55-60 degree basement or is okay to leave them in the garage all winter? There will be some sub-zero days during the winter. Does it make any real difference?
    So how often do you ride during the winter?

    If you ride very often in winter, leave them in the cold garage. Frequently moving them into and out of a warm, relatively moist environment can cause significant condensation on the insides of the frame tubes.

  10. #10
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    If you ride very often in winter, leave them in the cold garage. Frequently moving them into and out of a warm, relatively moist environment can cause significant condensation on the insides of the frame tubes.
    Plus, who wants to clean up all the melted slop on the floor of the basement, or worse, the path to the basement?

    I would only bring a bike inside in the winter if I had to work on it and that hasn't happened even once in the last 4 years of daily commuting on a reliable bike. The only winter maintenance is a monthly (or so) spray of Silicone Spray on the chain. Luckily the few slow leaks that flatted in my garage were always in summer. And I plan the annual chain replacement in warm months.

    Cure for frozen brakes? Coaster brakes.
    Cure for frozen derailler mechanisms? Internal gear/single speed hubs.

  11. #11
    Senior Member dauphin's Avatar
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    ahhh just have mine on the front porch...it's 48 right now with an expected high of 57 with blue skies today..

  12. #12
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    In relatively mild but damp Vancouver, I think I spend more time working on the all-weather bike in the winter than in the summer. Temps are typically 0-10C (~30-40F), but when it's around the lower end they tend to salt the roads, so I normally wash off the cranks in warm dishwasher detergent when I come home. I found years ago that if the aluminum cranks don't get washed, the salt gets into the aluminum and then some time during the subsequent summer or fall, as you're out of the saddle going up a gentle climb, a salt-logged crank will snap causing you to somersault over the handlebars. Kinda dangerous when the left crank snaps and you're on a busy street... Anyway, this happened to me six times during the 70's with cranks made by Campag and Sugino. A friend of mine snapped about the same number of Shimano cranks. So it finally dawned on me that maybe I should wash the salt off the cranks. Since then, I have broken 0 cranks.

    And then I'm replacing brake pads about 3 times more often than in dry weather. I've had soft black pads go about 500 km in a wet winter.

    About every three years I'll wear out an aluminum rim. The pads will wear down the aluminum until the bead hook (the outside of the rim) starts to bend outward. If it bends too far, logitudinal cracks develop. I've had rims explode on me while out riding. Not much fun riding home on a destroyed rim; the bead blows off the damaged rim and the tube explodes.

    One advantage of a fixie in the winter is that you're not replacing derailleur parts. However, you're constantly oiling the chain (and although I use Prolink chain lube, the chain will still rust in 24 hours if I don't have enough applied).

    If you hang the bike up on a hook by the front wheel, water will run into the headset lower race. Soon you find that although the bars turn OK, you are unable to ride no-hands without the bike feeling like it wants to topple to one side. This means your headset lower race bearings are rusted and you need to overhaul the headset. So if you hang up the bike, hang it by the back wheel so water will run past the headset. The bike is meant to be rubber-side-down normal.

    Anyway, that's typical of the work I need to do on the bike in a wet Vancouver winter.

    - L.

  13. #13
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    Step up to the plate, guys get a drop cloth and protect the flooring. We have to behave to prove we are not just animals. Get housebroken. bk

  14. #14
    resistance training
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    When we remodeled our bungalow a few years ago we built a "mud room" on the rear entrance with enough storage and floor space to accomodate a couple bikes or 30 pair of teenagers shoes. I store my summer bike in the basement and always keep my single speed Rollo in the garage for winter riding. I agree when working on the bike a drop cloth is essential.

  15. #15
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    I agree that the temp won't hurt the bikes--some of mine have lived in an unheated shed year-round for 15 years, with temps ranging from 110+ to minus 10. You can create all kinds of hypothetical arguments about moisture condensing in the tubes, plastic and rubber becoming brittle in the cold (not a problem at our typical winter temps of 15-40 F) etc., but as a practical matter it's just not a consideration. If you have one bike you ride most of the winter, though, it's nice to have that one in the basement. It's more pleasant to ride it AND to work on it.
    FWIW, we did have a real cold snap a few years ago, or what passes for one here--it got down to minus 17 F and stayed in that range for a few days. The properties of some materials really did change. A guy a ride with said one of his road bike tires exploded when he inflated it from flat to about 75 psi. The rubber just broke up into little shards held together by the fabric.

  16. #16
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Replying to several posts

    Bobkat: I just ran the numbers and the average high in Madison for the next 10 days is all of 1.5 degrees warmer than the average high in Bismarck. So while your nights are colder, as far as riding during the day goes we are about the same right now. I did see that you had a very cold day this past Wednesday.

    How much will I be riding in the winter? Likely, not much. Maybe if some days get back into the 40s, but that doesn't happen much around here.

    How much temperature change will the bike be seeing in the garage? Typical winter temps vary from around 40 to around -20. Both the garage and basement have concrete floors are are dry. The basement temps will be very constant, between 55 to 60.

    The bike needs no work over the winter, I just bought it, used from a bike shop that just adjusted everything. But I might be swapping handlebars at some point. Plenty of room in the basement, it's a 1000 sf unfinished basement.

    I was just wondering if it would be easier on the bike, the tires, the gears, the chain, etc. for it to be in a consistent, dry, warm storage than out in the garage.

  17. #17
    jcm
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    These pics are of a 1988 Trek 830 mtb that I bought new back then. I rode the heck out of it for two years, then abruptly stopped riding. It went into my garage, unheated but attached, for about six years. After that, it was placed outside to make room. From 1996 til summer 2004, it sat out on the side of the house with just the roof overhang to protect it.

    I live in Everett WA, which is near Seattle and Vancouver. Our State Plant is moss, the State Animal is The Great Washington Fighting Slug. "We do rain" is our State Motto.

    This bike was never treated for rust resistance til I got serious in 2004. A broken dropout has killed it, but there is only a hint of rust on the boss screws.

    I confidently keep my much higher quality bikes in my new, unheated shop. Nothing else in there rusts either.
    http://i13.tinypic.com/2h38sg4.jpg
    http://i16.tinypic.com/2uh9vso.jpg
    http://i13.tinypic.com/2layd7k.jpg
    http://i16.tinypic.com/29gbigz.jpg

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    Most definitely makes a difference. A cold Garage is not the best place to keep the bikes. Not for the bikes, they don't seem to care but when you have to work on the things- It is not a nice environment. Even a basement is not the best place- unless it is dry, warm and large. Best place I have found is the kitchen. Normally a good hard floor to clean up the mud and oil after a tinkering session and drinks are to hand. Far better is the lounge as the wife doesn't pass the comments that you are ignoring her, but the carpet does take a bit of cleaning afterwards.
    Do you take em to bed with you? A nice toasty electric blanket would be nice.

  19. #19
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    We only have about 6 weeks of sub freezing winter in central NC, still I like to keep my MTBs with suspension forks, especially the two with oil rebound, in the heated basement. I keep two or three of our bikes that don't have suspensions and are older, in the garage. I don't know that the cold causes a problem with the suspension forks, but why find out the hard way when I have the heated storage space.
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