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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 11-14-07, 12:55 PM   #1
rollinghills
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Will Winter Ruin My Bike?

I'm considering commuting this winter in ice and snow. Of course this also means lots of salt on the roads. I have a beater bike and my daily commuter bike. I would prefer to use my daily commuter in the snow/ice/salt but am afraid it will destroy the bike. If that is the case then I can use the beater and not worry about it.

How much of a toll does snow and salt have on a bike if you clean it after every ride?
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Old 11-14-07, 01:38 PM   #2
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Clean it after every ride! That is sure to take the fun out of it. When winter comes I break out my fixed gear then I don't have to worry about destroying my bike or its parts.
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Old 11-14-07, 01:49 PM   #3
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Not much.

I hosed mine down after every ride last year and relubed the chain most mornings, but not every single one.

Come spring the only real damage was the braking surfaces of the rims were starting to wear. I haven't heard of anyone else wearing their rims as fast as mine, so I figure they were cheesy to start with. (The whole bike was only $380 brand new.) Otherwise, there was a little rust on assorted screw heads, and the chain had turned brown with a coating of rust. I threw on a new chain, gave the RD a good cleaning and lube, replaced the brake pads, and called it good.
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Old 11-14-07, 01:56 PM   #4
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How much of a toll does snow and salt have on a bike if you clean it after every ride?
Very little.

A whole winter's worth of commuting on my MTB causes less wear than one muddy race in the spring.

Edit: and when I say "clean it after every ride" I mean "dump a bucket of water on it and let in dry in the basement"
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Old 11-14-07, 02:22 PM   #5
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You can probably benefit from some of my mistakes. Three years of winter riding have definitely taken their toll.

I'm lucky enough to be able to bring into my office. It's an old warehouse and I hang my bike in the corner from the ceiling by a single wheel.

Two problems with this. One is that corrosion happens quicker in warm temps. Two is that all the salt and crap dripped from from the top of the bike to the bottom as it hanged there.

This winter I'm going to leave the bike outside. While the frame still looks good, I've all kinds of problems with rust on the components. After last year, one side of my front cantilevers would barely move. My front derailleur wouldn't extend. The skewer in my rear wheel became a permanent part of the axle. The chain was shot but I figure I'm going to go through a chain a season anyway. After 3 years my rear cassette is toast and I'm not looking forward to trying to get it off.

It's too cold where I live to clean it (outside) with any regularity during the winter. I'd have to drag a filthy bike through the house to get it in the basement, and that's not going to go over well. Something needs to change though, so I may be bringing it to a self-serv carwash now and then.
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Old 11-14-07, 09:41 PM   #6
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I don't have much problems. However:
– I have full fenders and a long mudflap, so crap doesn't fly too much on the bottom bracket and bike.
– I oil and grease everything in the Fall. Sometimes again during Winter.
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Old 11-15-07, 08:58 AM   #7
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It's too cold where I live to clean it (outside) with any regularity during the winter. I'd have to drag a filthy bike through the house to get it in the basement, and that's not going to go over well.
My suggestion: use hot water. Most of it evaporates, quicker as it gets colder, and the few drips that don't will freeze on the bike long enough to carry it drip-free through the house to the basement. Then it can thaw and dry there.

Just a thought.
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Old 11-15-07, 02:06 PM   #8
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What is all this business of washing bikes down with WATER?! Don't you guys know water and steel parts are a REALLY BAD COMBINATION! It reminds me of all these people using degreasers like WD40 to clean steel parts, and then never bothering to reoil or regrease. You should never spray any exposed steel down with water unless it's in preparation for an immediate re-oiling. I'm starting to think dirt and road salt aren't doing nearly as much damage to your bikes as your own cleaning efforts. Just leave them be! Would you hose down a rifle with water and leave it in the garage to dry? Then why do it to the steel on your bike? Also, a pressure stream from a hose is likely to inject water into parts of the bike mere rain water or street water will never reach.

With the right base of oil, lube or grease (as appropriate) a periodic cleaning and re-oiling should be more than sufficient to ward of any serious rust. Other than that just tamp off any road water with an oiled rag and if you must spray on a cleaner use something like the Mpro series that leaves an oily protective layer behind. In fact you should be using light oil or the appropriate lube for cleaning, not water. Steel and water are like quality gin and vermouth in my book.

Last edited by Cosmoline; 11-15-07 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 11-15-07, 02:14 PM   #9
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What is all this business of washing bikes down with WATER?!
Maybe this doesn't happen in the winter in Alaska, but after almost all of my winter rides the bike is already very wet.

Wet with salt water and a bit of sand.

Washing doesn't make it any wetter. Just less salty/sandy.
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Old 11-15-07, 02:18 PM   #10
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If they're already wet, dry them with rags and finish with an oily rag. Blasting them with more water from a new direction at much higher pressure is going to cause more problems than it solves. If your bike is properly oiled and lubed at the key points it's designed to tolerate road water and crudola. There's a layer of protecting fluid between the water and the steel. By blasting with the hose you not only knock the crudola off, you blast this protecting fluid off leaving the steel parts totally exposed and much more likely to get rusty.
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Old 11-15-07, 02:50 PM   #11
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In fall I buy a 3-pack of 24oz cans of WD-40. When I'm back in the garage I just hose down with that stuff and periodically do higher level maintenance. It's worked VERY well. Enough to displace water, sand, de-icers, and even a bit of light lube leftover. Whine about WD all you want, the results are clear.
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Old 11-15-07, 03:17 PM   #12
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Well I'm not a fan, but I'll grant you it's a lot better to hose it with WD-40 than with a hose of hard household water. The danger of WD is in breaking down any grease if it seeps into the bearings.
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Old 11-15-07, 03:24 PM   #13
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If the seals are failing that badly then I've got larger problems on the horizon. WD is an environmental adaptation, not a substitute. Sure as hell no replacement for proper grease.
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Old 11-15-07, 04:35 PM   #14
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Again, I've never actually had any real corrosion issues. The chain gets a little bit of orange every now and then when I forget to re-oil it, but negligible, IMO, compared to the grinding action of sand and gunk, which happens on a MTB all year round.

I'm thinking wipperman chain this year.
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Old 11-15-07, 04:41 PM   #15
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I hose down with water to remove crud and whatever. About 2-3 minutes is all it takes. Then I dry with rags the parts I can reach and the rest air-dries. Another 2-3 minutes. Total about 10 minutes in the garage, and I'm in the house. Once a week, the chain, etc. gets a proper cleaning and relubed. But I agree with Cosmoline about the blasting the bike with pressured water. I firmly believe that's a no-no. I only clean with normal pressure from the hose and always directed at the bike from the top. The only purpose is to wash away road crap, the bike is already wet, like someone said.
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Old 11-15-07, 04:47 PM   #16
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The road grit/salt was hard on the pivots on my FS MTB there was a noticable amount of play in them last spring. Also, the seals on my air shock leaked air when it got below freezing. Now, even when its warm, it just leaks.

When my bike is cold, frozen and iced over, I leave it cold, frozen and iced over in the garage. Why would I wet it down with water? I would lube & clean the chain but thats about it.

I biult up a rigid winter beater for this winter's commuting.

Last edited by Tequila Joe; 11-16-07 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 11-15-07, 05:14 PM   #17
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Also, the seals on my air shock leaked air when it got below freezing.
Hmm. I'm waiting to see what my new f100 does this winter.

My beat-up old SID never lost any pressure the entire time I had it. All my coil shocks have been great below freezing as well.
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Old 11-15-07, 05:36 PM   #18
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Yeah, my fork never leaked but the Fox Float RL is screwed. Its time for new seals.
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Old 11-15-07, 07:17 PM   #19
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What is all this business of washing bikes down with WATER?! Don't you guys know water and steel parts are a REALLY BAD COMBINATION! <snip>
Cool yer jets, thar Biscuit Boy. You're making an awful lot of assumptions. I can't speak for anyone else, but,

I live in a part of the country called The Rustbelt. Around here, everyone knows how much Fe and O2 love each other, and how nicely NaCl and H2O facilitate their bonding. Hell, I remember when car loans were limited to 36 months because after that, there wasn't enough car left for banks to repossess. Cars were disposable after two or three years. (Once, only once, my dad got four years out of a car, our '62 BelAir wagon. Edit: Now that I think about it, it lasted only halfway through its fourth winter. That February we bought a '66 Country Sedan.)

The only steel parts on my winter bike are the chain (a wear part), some screws (which are easily replaceable), the bearings (again, wear parts) and the axles and skewers (which I grease up really well). Everything else is aluminum, stainless steel (including my disc brake rotors), carbon fiber and plastic. Yes, over time, the aluminum will corrode. Big deal. It's a bike, not my child. I'll buy another one when it's time.

I have no outdoor storage for anything. The only place I have indoors where a bike will fit is my living room and my bedroom. Rather than have the bike drip messy slush next to the furniture, I rinse it off in the shower stall so that at least it drips clean water. It hangs next to the radiator to dry.

What makes you think I have a pressure washer in my shower stall anyway? If my shower were enough to drive water into the sealed bearings, then the seals couldn't keep out splashing water either. (And it would sure raise hell with my own delicate parts.)

No one around here has been critical of the choices you make in your bikes and their maintenance. In fact, as I recall, most people are quite supportive. So please don't be so critical of others and the choices they have made.

And please stop THE YELLING!

Last edited by tsl; 11-15-07 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 11-15-07, 08:03 PM   #20
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We all yell here. This is ALASKA!

I think you'd be much better off letting the bike stay a bit mucky. The water in a shower may not be high pressure, but it's still going to help speed the removal of whatever oil is on the metal parts.

Also, stainless steel rusts.
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Old 11-16-07, 12:07 AM   #21
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We all yell here. This is ALASKA!
BTW, how FAR is your nearest physical neighbor? j/k

Personally, a person MUST remove the accumulated salt ASAP. If your only means of storage is outdoors when it's 20 below zero F, how do you accomplish the cleaning ritual? Personally, I wouldn't want my hands anywhere NEAR water with low temperatures. The consensus seems to be: since the bike's already wet, rinse the exposed parts with hot water, wipe off excess water, and oil exposed parts promptly. I'm living in a northern state and will be using a bike this winter. Our climate is cold, semi-arid, and windy. The biggest obstacles will be drifting snow and maniacal drivers, but I suspect the bike will weather the season alright with regular, prompt care as suggested here.

Last edited by tpreitzel; 11-16-07 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 11-16-07, 01:30 AM   #22
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Not much.

I hosed mine down after every ride last year and relubed the chain most mornings, but not every single one.

Come spring the only real damage was the braking surfaces of the rims were starting to wear. I haven't heard of anyone else wearing their rims as fast as mine,
so I figure they were cheesy to start with. (The whole bike was only $380 brand new.) Otherwise, there was a little rust on assorted screw heads, and the chain had turned brown with a coating of rust. I threw on a new chain, gave the RD a good cleaning and lube, replaced the brake pads, and called it good.

Cheesy?

Actually even after some heavy winter riding and wiping down - I still developed problems - but problems that you would expect from just plain wear and tear. Course I tear and wear a little more on the heavy side for a commuter thought. But after 3 years of commuting in the winter - not so much the first year, more the second and almost totally the 3rd year (see I DO have an option of taking a bus to work) - I had some major repairs. (of course the bike was stolen before I got done dumping all the $$ into it ...)

My three year commuter repair - either Me or LBS -- Totally rebuilt brakes - had a crack in the cable - that rusted - assembly in on the rear tire (disc on front) rotted literally - replaced. Rebuilt rear hub, repacked crank bearings, replaced front cables, 3 shop tuneups. That bike had some awesome tires too - oh well. Some stupid **** ripped off a bike they didn' t know what they had.

But, my point is - all what I listed isn't bad for repairs - especially because in addition to commuting - I took that mtb out and quite frankly - beat the stuff out of in on occasion as I found my niche in the mtb world.

I now have a new mtb that I'm commuting on - it's ok, but I have some additions I'm putting on it - and I would prefer a separate commuter. Hopefully I satisfied that last night as I will be picking up a new-used bike tomorrow which will become my commuter. And I'll be running both mtb in the winter, one for play, the other for work. Taken care of, especially with the addition of the new parts I intend on putting on - I should have no problem this winter for riding --- or of maintenance or upkeep - especially since I wipe the bikes off after riding.

Go have some fun - but take care of your ride!
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Old 11-16-07, 01:41 AM   #23
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You can probably benefit from some of my mistakes. Three years of winter riding have definitely taken their toll.

I'm lucky enough to be able to bring into my office. It's an old warehouse and I hang my bike in the corner from the ceiling by a single wheel.

Two problems with this. One is that corrosion happens quicker in warm temps. Two is that all the salt and crap dripped from from the top of the bike to the bottom as it hanged there.

This winter I'm going to leave the bike outside. While the frame still looks good, I've all kinds of problems with rust on the components. After last year, one side of my front cantilevers would barely move. My front derailleur wouldn't extend. The skewer in my rear wheel became a permanent part of the axle. The chain was shot but I figure I'm going to go through a chain a season anyway. After 3 years my rear cassette is toast and I'm not looking forward to trying to get it off.

It's too cold where I live to clean it (outside) with any regularity during the winter. I'd have to drag a filthy bike through the house to get it in the basement, and that's not going to go over well. Something needs to change though, so I may be bringing it to a self-serv carwash now and then.
Where do you live????

One thing about wiping a bike down (and I do this even where I park my bike at work - in the misc. closet that has a lot of wide open space - and I have my soft towels in there and totally wipe it off - and in the winter I do a good chain clean with a wet lube about evey 3 days (not at work) - doesn't take long and is well worth it.

As for dragging a mushy, slush slothing bike thru the house - boy I hear that one. I get it at work - so before I take it into the building (have to the elevators 5 floors) - I bounce the bike up and down a couple of times to loose some of the crud - believe me this allows you to roll your bike here and there and park it - and nothing falls off it (even though you're proud of that clump of semi ice ). And when I get the bike into the storage closet area - I wipe it down. Takes a whole time of <10 minutes. Once you have the bike up to where you like it - clean standards wise - maintaining becomes a second nature.
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Old 11-16-07, 10:07 AM   #24
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I'm going to ride my commuter on the salty, wet roads and clean and lube often. It isn't an expensive bike, so the wear and tear will be ok with me. After all, the bike will be serving its purpose. The beater bike may be worse in wet conditions as it is mostly steel, rather than aluminum like the commuter. Although the commuter frame is CroMo, it has more aluminum components.

I store it in my basement so I should be able to give her a warm shower and dry it off.
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Old 11-16-07, 10:55 AM   #25
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I'm just about to have my winter bike built for me at the LBS. I'm pretty sure that aside from cleaning & l00bing the chain, it ain't getting cleaned very often, if ever by me.
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