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  1. #1
    Guy on a Bike TreeUnit's Avatar
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    Should I be worried about Salt?

    I bike on city streets in my daily commute. Most days, the bike gets covered with road salt. I am worried that the presence of salt will corrode my frame, which is made of Chromoly Steel. I'm also worried about my spokes, chain and rims. Should I be worried? How often should I clean it off?

  2. #2
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    Should you be worried? Probably not. Probably wouldn't hurt to be proactive and keep the salt washed off as much as possible.

  3. #3
    Member sswartzl's Avatar
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    Salt can eat things. In the winter, I clean/lube the commuter every week. In good weather, it's more like 2 weeks or so.

    It seems to me that the slush on the roads is worse than the salt. Get that chain wet, let it sit overnight, and wake up tomorrow to a fine display of surface rust.

  4. #4
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    Do you guys have any tips for cleaning the spokes? In Wisconsin they throw so much salt on the roads it's crazy! I have some of that citrus peel cleaner and it worked really good on the rims but cleaning each spoke got to be tiresome. If there is no other way that cleaning each one then that's what has to be done but I was hoping somebody here would have some shortcuts! Thanks

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfo
    Do you guys have any tips for cleaning the spokes?
    I know what you mean about the salt! The spokes just get a good old fasion flossing here and there, as tedious as that may be. It only takes about 5 minutes, but I'm open to suggestions too.

    Since we're on the topic of wheel components, here's my overall wheel maintenance stategy during the messy winter months. Early in the season and prior to the 1 ton of salt per square yard application, I put a drop of oil on each spoke before applying new Velox tape. This protects the spoke where it meets the rim. Then on a weekly basis I put a dab of light oil where the spoke meets the nipple. The wheel spin naturally causes the oil to work its way into the threads and prevent seizing. Just don't put too much on if you use rim brakes for obvious reasons. I've had no problems with the occasional wheel truing by following this practice. The hub also gets cleaned with a light application of lube.

    I may go a little overboard with my bike maintenance, but hey, in my opinion a clean bike is a safe and reliable bike. I only spend about 30 minutes a week giving my bike some TLC, maybe a little more time if a chain cleaning is involved.

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    Salt will speed the corrosion of any steel part, and sometimes (rarely) aluminum ones.

    Since it is highly soluble, it only takes a few seconds to wash off though. One bucket of hot water will generally do it.

    Allow to dry somewhere where it won't refreeze first.

  7. #7
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    You can tell when there's too much salt when the deer start licking the roadways.

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    Get yourself a can of "Framesaver" and follow the instructions.

    I've had problems with cables and salt. Keep them lubed. It also likes to eat seat-clamp bolts.

    Go over your bike on a regular basis, cleaning and lubing. You'll quickly learn where the problem spots are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kuan
    You can tell when there's too much salt when the deer start licking the roadways.
    Or, of course, your bike.

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    For the salt issue, has anybody ever tried using a sacrificial anode, or would something like that not work on a bike?

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    your god hates me Bob Ross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by !!Comatoa$ted
    For the salt issue, has anybody ever tried using a sacrificial anode, or would something like that not work on a bike?
    ???? I am so going to Google that term!

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    Salt does more damage to cars than to bikes. That's a good reason to ride your bike in the winter.

    Paul

  13. #13
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
    Or, of course, your bike.
    No, when the bike starts licking the roadways you know there's been too much beer in your system or somethn'...

  14. #14
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    Salt.

    ugh.

    I just sacrifice a chain, set of pedals, and sometimes a frame to the salt gods every year.

    Been using my brand-spanking-new wheel (surly/alex/dt) on the back of my bike, hopefully it will be ridable when summer comes around.

    I usually do a snow-wash every couple days, but we have been lacking snow this winter.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by !!Comatoa$ted
    For the salt issue, has anybody ever tried using a sacrificial anode, or would something like that not work on a bike?
    For a sacrificial anode (say a strip of Mg) to work, it would have to be in electrical contact with any part it was meant to protect, and the electrolyte (salt water solution) as well. This works great on ships, but unless it's really slushy, I'm not sure it would work with a bike frame. what you would have to do is sand off the paint on one section of the frame and attach the magnesium (plumbing clamps would probably work). I don't think this would protect your wheels very well, but it might work on the frame. If you try it out -tell me how it works.

    That said, I have not found frame rusting (cromo) to be a big problem - it's the corrosion of the drivetrain and rims/spokes/hubs that seems to be more of an issue. I don't think the sacrificial anode will work but it's worth a try...

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    Quote Originally Posted by rajman
    For a sacrificial anode (say a strip of Mg) to work, it would have to be in electrical contact with any part it was meant to protect, and the electrolyte (salt water solution) as well. This works great on ships, but unless it's really slushy, I'm not sure it would work with a bike frame. what you would have to do is sand off the paint on one section of the frame and attach the magnesium (plumbing clamps would probably work). I don't think this would protect your wheels very well, but it might work on the frame. If you try it out -tell me how it works.

    That said, I have not found frame rusting (cromo) to be a big problem - it's the corrosion of the drivetrain and rims/spokes/hubs that seems to be more of an issue. I don't think the sacrificial anode will work but it's worth a try...
    Yeah I did not think it would work but I was curious if anyone had tried it. I think if it did work in conditions like that maybe more cars would have them. On the other hand if cars did have them it would probably a money losing proposition because if it did work it would case one less think to go wrong, and reduce sales.

    The other thing that I am curious about is that some people say that aluminum does not rust, but does it not corrode, especially in salt? I know that putting an aluminum boat in salt water is a no no. I know pure aluminum has good anti corrosion properties, but a bike made of pure aluminum would be un-ridable. From experience I have seem some terribly corroded aluminum that was exposed to salt, and have heard of aluminum being used as a sacrificial anode as well. On the other hand I have never had any corroded aluminum bikes, but I would not ride them in the winter because I pain a pretty penny for my 'dales.

  17. #17
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    It must take a lot of salt and time to corrode any aluminum bike parts noticibly. My frame has a raw aluminum finish and has shown no sign of anythingf after four winters. I once had a V-brake noodle corrode out on a bike I never washed. That's about it.

    Oddly, the one place my bike has visible corrosion is on the top tube where sweat dripped on it when I was riding in indoors on the trainer. Yuck.

  18. #18
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    I wipe off my chain and my bike at each end of my commute. When it's really salt-slushy, I lube the chain daily with drip lube. I haven't bothered with the spokes. Maybe I should start.

  19. #19
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    Two words. Turtle Wax. I slather the stuff on the frame, spokes, nipples, V-brake arms (not the hand levers), headset, seat clamps and exposed cables in late fall. No shiny finish -- they look like they're covered in toothpaste when I'm done. But it works pretty good and it's easy enough to remove most of it in the spring. I tried the crank arms, but the wax wore off within a month of hard riding through spray and blasting through small snow drifts etc.
    I found that a layer of Teflon tape over post seams (e.g. where the seat tube and seat post meet) worked nicely at repelling moisture and protecting from salt.
    No way to protect tire studs, but that's not the point, is it?
    Now if someone could tell me how to protect the bottom bracket cassette, hubs, derailleurs and chain, I'd be a happy and contented man. I just DESTROYED the bottom bracket on my Walt-Mart winter beater and I've ordered a base-level Trek hoping the SR components will be a little more Ontario-winter friendly. Beyond that, I have no illusions about not replacing the rear cassette and chain once April rolls around....

  20. #20
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    It turns out I have (sortof) tried the sacrificial anode experiment. I'm in Toronto for a week and I rode my summer commuter in some of the slush we had earlier this week. I have Mg pedals and there is a lot of obvious corrosion on them even after a short time- the rest of the bike seems undamaged though.

    Maybe the sacrificial anode concept can work...

  21. #21
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    I've been riding the same steel winter beater FG bike in salty Cleveland for four years now.
    Secrets;
    Grease hubs, pedals and headset.
    Buy new $5 sprawlmart chain and install.
    Spray WD-40 inside all frame tubes.
    Drip 3-in-1 oil on brake cable, chain and fender bolts (early and often).
    Ride all winter without worry.
    I the spring;
    Wash bike
    Discard chain
    Repack bearings
    Spray inside of tubes w/ WD
    Hang on hook til fall
    Quote Originally Posted by SBFixed View Post
    You're a dick, if your bike gets stolen I hope that you don't get a thread.

  22. #22
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    I wipe the wheels and spokes with a large sponge (car washing type) and water. Takes a minute. I don't wash each and every spoke with a cloth. I commute almost everyday for 6 years and never lost a spoke to rust or corrosion.

  23. #23
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    When I take my car to be washed, I always bring the bike along. Naturally using all the precautions that youse are wanting write in reply.
    Bike riding New England gentleman.

  24. #24
    rep
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    I second the rinsing the bike with 2 buckets of water approach (35 years winter commuting experience).

  25. #25
    Senior Member kpumpy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfo
    Do you guys have any tips for cleaning the spokes? In Wisconsin they throw so much salt on the roads it's crazy! I have some of that citrus peel cleaner and it worked really good on the rims but cleaning each spoke got to be tiresome. If there is no other way that cleaning each one then that's what has to be done but I was hoping somebody here would have some shortcuts! Thanks
    Wish I had some shortcuts to offer but about the only shortcut I'd offer (as another Wisconite who tires of too much salt on the roads ) is to ride a winter beater, which is what I do and I just don't worry about it as much. I'll still clean the winter beater occasionally, especially if it's just completely crudded over, but I don't lose any sleep over it if it doesn't get clean or look perfect.

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