In the right lane
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Des Moines
Bikes: 1974 Huffy 3 speed
My winter bike is steel.
I really haven't seen a big problem with rust. I did treat the tubes with Frame saver a couple of years ago. However, there are a few paint chips that were showing rust. I sanded them off with a brillo pad and waxed the frame, so it now look reasonable.
I have more of a problem with the components on the bike. My cheapo crank started looking a bit rusty after last winter. Brakes bolts, as well as the v-brake noodle, the chain, rear rack bolts all showed some rust pitting. I treated those to a brillo sanding and added car wax where I could.
I probably wouldn't want to use a Colnago as my winter bike, but the deterioration isn't as dramatic as you might think. By my estimate I can easily get another 5 years out of this cheapo hi-ten frame, although I'm guessing a few iterations of component change....