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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 12-03-10, 04:08 PM   #1
Chalupa102
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How to prevent derailleurs from freezing

This morning I had both derailleurs freeze up at 28F/-2C. I was able to at least shift down on the RD. Luckly I was on my trike, so to shift up I was able to reach back and move the derailleur with my hand after I shifted up on the shifter mechanism. About 2/3 into my commute, it started to shift by itself without me having to reach back there, but it was sluggish. Towards the end of the commute it completely un-froze. Unfortunately the FD was frozen solid the entire commute and I couldn't shift it up or down.

I spent all morning Tuesday lubing the cables and derailleurs with a no-name grease. It did rain pretty heavy most the day Wednesday, but I figured the grease should have prevented the rain from getting in the cables and freezing. Apparently the grease I used either was bad, I used to much, or didn't use enough.

I can kind of understand the FD freezing up completely, but what I don't get is why I could still kinda shift the RD.

What suggestions do you guys have (and please don't say to get a SS/FG because there are way too many hills around here)? Also what do you use to prevent your cables from freezing?
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Old 12-03-10, 07:41 PM   #2
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I do what you did, clean all the cables, but I don't re-grease because it seems to freeze too. After a winter rain I may try to wash out the cable housings with alcohol to try and draw out the water before purging the housings and re-inserting the cables. If you feel you have to have a lubricant in there, then maybe powder graphite after blowing them out, but my vote is for nothing. My freeze ups are generally always the cables in housings.
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Old 12-03-10, 07:51 PM   #3
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The home brew I use on my chain is also excellent for cable housings... it dispels water and provides weather proof lubrication and protection.

Recipe:

In the winter I mix up one part semi synthetic oil with three parts mineral spirits.
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Old 12-03-10, 10:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
The home brew I use on my chain is also excellent for cable housings... it dispels water and provides weather proof lubrication and protection.

Recipe:

In the winter I mix up one part semi synthetic oil with three parts mineral spirits.
Any particular reason for semi-syn vs full? I'll be trying the homebrew this winter too as I've had the same problem.
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Old 12-03-10, 10:29 PM   #5
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Semi synthetic works as well in the cold and costs much much less.
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Old 12-03-10, 10:40 PM   #6
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Ok thanks Sixty!
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Old 12-04-10, 09:32 AM   #7
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grease and lube shouldn't freeze in -2c, but generally speaking, thicker will freeze before the diluted grease or lube.
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Old 12-04-10, 12:25 PM   #8
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I put some drops of chain lube in my cable housings, hold the bike in a vertical position, and then shift (or squeeze if it's a brake cable) to help it work its way through. This is a lot easier if you have a bike stand. I also put lithium grease on exposed cables, and spray the dérailleurs and cassette with silicon spray like this stuff from Permatex:

http://www.permatex.com/products/aut..._Lubricant.htm

As requested, I won't mention SS/FG, but I will mention IGH: After commuting through the winter and getting sick and tired of the drivetrain maintenance that it entails, I decided I wanted to switch to an internally geared hub, preferably with belt drive. I now have an Alfine/belt drive setup on my bike and so far it has worked flawlessly for my winter commute. Best of all, the only maintenance it has needed since the temperature has dropped is a simple barrel adjustment.
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Old 12-04-10, 11:33 PM   #9
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For Sixty Fiver and others; do you lube the cables once before the season, or is it something you do weekly?
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Old 12-04-10, 11:44 PM   #10
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It is a once a season kind of thing for me... my winter bikes have very little exposed cable so they are less prone to water contamination and my primary winter bike has an internal gear hub so there's no derailleur to worry about.

Bike 2 has an old Suntour derailleur and Suntour friction shifters and this has been very reliable in temperatures that have gone below -40 C... the derailleur on my hybrid does not like the cold nearly as much but it is an indexed system which is a little more finicky.
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Old 12-05-10, 09:09 PM   #11
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Awesome, thank you very much.
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Old 12-05-10, 09:24 PM   #12
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it's not too hard to lube the cables up either, if they do get fouled with water.

simply disconnect the cables and rub WD-40 on it with a rag, especially the spots where it goes into the housings.
If you really want to clean out the housings thoroughly, shoot some WD-40 into it. And since you've probably taken out the cables entirely, grease up the cables with chain lube or marine grade grease before rethreading them into the housing.
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Old 12-06-10, 02:41 PM   #13
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To some degree you can't prevent this 100%. I only have this happen a few times per season. Definitely make sure the lines are lubricated liberally. If the unit gets wet enough and then re-freezes there is nothing you can do other than to get the bike defrost in a warm plae and wait for all the moisture to evaporate. I've had this happen mostly when riding through some seriously wet thick sloppy snow. The rear derailler gets so incrusted with wet snow that nearly nothing can prevent some moisture from getting in the lines. Like I stated however with proper maintenance this is a fairly rare occurrance.

Happy riding,
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Old 12-11-10, 05:41 PM   #14
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In my 8 winters of riding I have NEVER had a "derailleur freeze." So I guess my answer is I do nothing.
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Old 12-11-10, 08:17 PM   #15
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^Spin bikes don't have derailleurs.
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