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  1. #1
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    Rain on Tour - Bike Maintenance - What Should I Have Done?

    I was on the Great Allegheny Passage last week for three days from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. Two of the three days were rain, including one day of 6 hours of straight rain. On top of that, one night my bike was put away wet in a damp garage and the other it was outside on a porch. Bottomline, the bike was wet for almost 48 hours. Despite stopping to get my chain lubed, it became noisy and rusty after 2 hours of riding in the sun.

    Since this was my first overnight tour and definitely a learning experience, I'm looking for expert advice on what I should have done to better protect my ride, especially the chain and drivetrain. All suggestions and comments gratefully accepted!

    At this point, I'm considering just replacing the chain and having a SRAM PowerLink installed.

    The ride was fun, but the rain really put a damper on things and slowed me down. Not to mention the aggressive, abrasive nature of the limestone grit on the brake pads and wheel rims.

    Worst of all, I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked, since my camera wasn't weather-proof! But that last day, in full sunshine, on the long drop from the Continental Divide to Cumberland was made it all worthwhile....

  2. #2
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    Try and avoid leaving the bike outside in the rain if at all possible. If you can't you'll have to get used to drying it out when it's sunny and lubing everything before it rusts up. When you ride in the rain it'll wash off chain lube rather quickly, especially without fenders. I'd really recommend fenders with a mudflap if you end up in the rain a lot, it helps keep a heap of road grit and spray out of the drivetrain. They aren't a panacea but they are rather useful.

    A powerlink is handy and lets you take the chain off for cleaning, easier to do that off the bike I find. Have some old towels laying the garage so you can at least wipe a lot of the water off the bike before storage.

    I have a log house designs rain cape and found it kept me rather dry while riding, so that can help too if you can get past the dorkiness of it, but I relish that

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Rainy season is 3/4 of the year , here , took a long tour In Ireland, same thing.

    just keep the chain oiled, replace it after returning, or in preparation for the trip.

    +1 Just got a new rain cape , Grundens , its a utility not a compact choice

    I wore rain gear a Lot, on the bike I prefer anoraks to jackets,
    ,because the kangaroo pocket is so handy, for snacks [and cough drops]..
    and the hand warmer pocket behind them
    keeps you from losing your gloves so quickly..
    because there is some place to put them ..
    and the zipper is not stiffening the front of the coat
    so moves with pedaling motion..

  4. #4
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    You can try to schedule around the weather but that is difficult. This past weekend I encountered severe thunderstorms, torrential rain and darkness. I had a flat tire,a great time,I need to lube my chain and sleep but I'm happy.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Some things to consider:
    Rain is not going to hurt your bike. Neither is the resulting oxidation on the chain.
    What WILL give you headaches is riding for a long period on wet crushed limestone. As you point out, it creates an abrasive mess.
    What I would suggest is a good long blast on the chain and drivetrain from your water bottles each time you fill up and lube more often than normal.
    I don't think replacing your chain is necessary. A good cleaning, yes.
    Last edited by MNBikeguy; 07-12-11 at 06:35 PM.
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  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Better chain lube is good, too. I ride in the rain most of the year. I use Finish Line Ceramic, this stuff:
    http://www.finishlineusa.com/product...c_wet_lube.htm
    It's amazing. I never have a rusty chain. It is important to wipe the gunk off the chain from time to time. I'll add a bit of lube from time to time, and thoroughly clean and lube every couple weeks. At home, I use a Park chain wear checker and replace the chain when it shows a good bit of wear. Of course I don't carry that tool when I tour, so I'd probably replace the chain every couple thousand miles.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    If you have to leave the bike outside, get a raincover fro Nashbar. When I camp, I take it all the time. Folds in a small pouch.. As for rust, clean chain & lube. I keep a lubed rag in a baggie for wiping down if it rains and have yet taken the chain off to clean/lube

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Lube the chain well before you leave. The limestone crap can be a problem. Fenders can and will help keep your drive train cleaner. I use a variety of rain gear depending on the temps and the type of rain. Mostly depend on the same poncho that clasher does. I also happen to have a waxed cotton Carradice...and boy does it stink, but works great.

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  9. #9
    djb
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    lets face it, riding in lots of rain sucks. If you've been in rain all day, as has been mentioned, fenders really do help with keeping junk off your drivetrain, front derailleur etc. If you can at end of the day if its not raining anymore, is to bounce teh bike on its wheels a few times to get as much water off, then simply wipe down the chain really well, clean off gunk off the RD wheelie things, chainrings and even a quick go at the cassette if you still are so inclined, then relube chain so at least overnight it will not be dry and rust up. Yes, surface rust isnt the end of the world, but getting the water and accumulated crap off is the main thing for me and relubing it.

    yes, doing this when arriving somewhere is not high on the priority list after riding in rain all day, but even a quick job of 5 mins top will mean you wont have all the abrasive toothpaste like gunk on everything and relubing will stop the rusting. This is why I always have an old rag with me (or two) as its the easiest way to do a quick wipe down and clean, and you can always toss it when it gets too greasy and/or soaking wet. Its not hard to find a rag along the way when travelling, or at least pick up some paper towels or something. When it was dry, I used to use paper napkins etc for chain cleaning, relubing, just to save my rag/s for getting stuck with a rain day as cloth is so much faster and easier to wipe off lots of gunky crap.

    After a lot of rain, I like to give the rims and brake pads a quick wipe too just to get the abrasive stuff off those too, when they are wet it is a really fast job and it comes off instantly, if you let it dry its harder to get off. I hate having abrasive stuff on rims and pads as it really isnt good for the rims.

    again, all a moot point if you are riding in rain and arrive to camp in the rain, not a good time to do cleanup. Keeping your chain well lubed will help to an extent if you have to leave it.

    Limestone grit though, thats probably the worst type of fine grain stuff to ride through in the wet...
    Last edited by djb; 07-13-11 at 08:45 AM.

  10. #10
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    I usually carry a 5'x8' plastic tarp for sitting on the ground when there is no picnic table. It doubles as a rain cover for our bikes when in camp. I secure it with my bungee cords if it's windy.

  11. #11
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
    If you have to leave the bike outside, get a raincover fro Nashbar.
    Just my opinion, but I think that if anything the rain will help rinse off the crushed limestone dust. I definitely don't find a cover to be worth carrying on tour.

    A light coating of surface rust is no big deal, just a reminder to lube the chain.

  12. #12
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    Frankly, I didn't mind getting wet. For the amount of time spent out in the rain, I don't know that any cape would have been sufficient to stay dry. It was a solid rain for five hours on one day! It was warm enough and I was throwing off enough heat not to mind the rain on me. Fenders, on the other hand, would have been very helpful.

    When I stopped for lunch, the bike was out in the worst part of the rain, and the grit just wasn't washing off at all, to my surprise. I thought at least the small heaps on the FD would rinse away but, alas, no.

    I read the link for the Finish line product from above - so here's the scenario: it's raining, the chain is gritty and wet. I can't get the chain either cleaned or dry on the trail. So, do I just let it go until I can clean it, degrease it and relube on the next dry day? Geez, every gearshift made new noises and the first couple of revolutions of the chain felt like the drivetrain was made of rocks. All I'm thinking is, "Gawd, I'm killing this bike!" I had no where to leave the bike out of the weather or at least out of humidity.

    Anyway, I'm going to work on it this weekend to get things cleaned up, wash all the grit off, and get the chain lubed well, if not actually replaced.

    PS: The set of Ortlieb rear classic rollers were awesome! Not a sign of moisture in the bags - even my small roll of toilet paper was perfectly dry. I saw signs of "waterproof pannier envy" from others on the trail. I got these from Best Buys before their sale imploded. What a deal at 50% off list! Not the easiest to find stuff in them (kinda like looking in my wife's purse, where whatever you want has sunk to the bottom), but the contents sure stay dry! Two thumbs up!!

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
    Fenders, on the other hand, would have been very helpful.

    I read the link for the Finish line product from above - so here's the scenario: it's raining, the chain is gritty and wet. I can't get the chain either cleaned or dry on the trail. So, do I just let it go until I can clean it, degrease it and relube on the next dry day? Geez, every gearshift made new noises and the first couple of revolutions of the chain felt like the drivetrain was made of rocks. All I'm thinking is, "Gawd, I'm killing this bike!" I had no where to leave the bike out of the weather or at least out of humidity.
    Yes, fenders are a good choice for touring.

    Your bicycle should be fine in the rain, especially for short periods of time like 48 hours.

    Next time, bring a stiff-bristle toothbrush-like brush. You can bring a toothbrush, or $$ stores often have packages with a set of toothbrush-like brushes - one is black (nylon?), another is wire ... bring the black nylon bristle one.

    When you really start hearing your chain grinding etc., stop somewhere where you can refill your bottles. Then rinse the chain with water, then give it a bit of a scrub with the brush and rinse, and repeat. It probably works better if you've got a degreaser like Simple Green to work with, but you probably won't have that on a tour. When it doesn't look too bad, give it a really good oiling.

    Then when you get home, clean the whole drivetrain really well.

  14. #14
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    i've ordered this just last week, have yet to receive it. i'm betting my chances on hitting a gas station from time to time, getting a wee bit of diesel to clean up my chain, and dispose of the resultant goop into their waste oil drums.

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/...etoolz%20chain

    i have another pedro cleaner which i can bring along but is much larger in volume, but hooks on behind the jockey wheels so that i need not hold it up. maybe i'm a little mad, but the chain being squeaky drives me nuts. riding in rain is actually what i prefer - remember reading somewhere - water is a GREAT lubricant, actually... except that when it evaporates, it creates rust.

    http://www.pedros.com/chainmachinekit.htm

    at the same time, i think some of the ProTour cycling team mechanics apply a healthy gob of grease on the chains, for those wet classics and stage races. now, carrying GREASE on a tour is something new to new... so i think i'll skip that...

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