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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 09-19-11, 01:39 PM   #1
Ratzinger
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How to deal with Salt

Sorry if this is discussed often, I wasn't able to find a thread about it here or in the "101" sticky (which doesn't seem to be there anymore?).

I'm in Toronto. Winters are not the coldest, but there is a ton of salt. I wondering what the protocol is for keeping your bike working well. My challenge is that I don't have anywhere to bring my bike inside. I've had a freewheel and a derailleur royally messed up by salt before. It's a killer.
Do you wash your bike often? Wax it or do something to protect it? How do you handle salt when you bike everyday in a salty city?
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Old 09-19-11, 05:30 PM   #2
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I've pretty much gone to a singlespeed only system in the winter, here in MN it gets damn cold AND salty extra salty. Full fenders will help keep the crud off as much as possible, but simply just wiping the bike off after every ride. While stored outside you could use this or simply a tarp to keep additional crap off of it. If this is to be ridden in winter I do hope it's some beater and not a main nice bike cause it's going to get cruddy.

Having the frame frame saved can also help any rust. For chain lube I just use Rock N Roll Gold all year and that does fine on my chain, I have rusted the bolts on my v brakes though just glad I did not go expensive which I think is also a big no no for a winter bike. Just lube all the bolts prior to starting the cold season and everything should be ok on that end.
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Old 09-19-11, 06:36 PM   #3
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I live and ride in the suburbs of Toronto.. city of Mississauga /Oakville/Burlington /Hamilton throws tons of salt on the roads. I ride SS/FG and all I need to do is just oil my chain every few days. I don't worry about the frame, I use full fenders. I never wash or degrease my bike in winter, I keep it oily and greasy. All that grease and oil repels some of the salty slush. I also ride through downtown Toronto regularly, it's mostly flat.. have you considered SS/FG ? Or if you really need your gears, how about an IGH hub ?
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Old 09-19-11, 07:44 PM   #4
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I'm just across the lake from TO. We get more snow than you, and as a result, more salt is used. And I ride daily.

I thought through the whole salt issue before I bought my bike. I reduced the steel in the bike to the absolute minimum.

The chain, FD cage and a handful of fasteners are about it for exposed steel, and push come to shove, I could replace the fasteners and chain with stainless. The pedal axles, bearings and such are the only other steel on the bike, and they're all protected by grease and grease seals. Everything else is aluminum, stainless, plastic, or carbon fiber.

Even so, since the only place I have to store the bike is my living room, it gets hosed down every night. It gets a sudsy wash once a month in the winter. The chain gets cleaned and lubed mid-week and on the weekend.

Come spring, I strip it down, put clean anti-seize on all the threads and fasteners, clean and regrease the bearings, and reassemble. We're heading into our sixth winter with nary a problem.

Well except for winter grit wear on the chainrings and cassette. I had to replace a chainring a year ago. It gets cassettes every two years. And it gets a new chain every spring.

The disc brake calipers were the hardest thing to manage until I realized I could load up the insides of the things with anti-seize before I put the pads in. I coat everything I can with the stuff, not just the moving parts, but everything. They've been trouble-free ever since. The pads continue to slide on the rails, and the adjusters continue to adjust. Anti-seize is a wonderful thing.

Aluminum is still subject to corrosion in the salt. There are a couple of spots where paint wear and scratches have allowed the frame to begin to corrode. When the time comes to replace this bike--I'm estimating another three or four years, which will be 35,000 miles or so on it--I'll go with titanium instead.

Last edited by tsl; 09-19-11 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 09-20-11, 06:14 AM   #5
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thanks for all the great info. Right now I'm thinking I'll get an old mountain bike, throw on some fenders and take the derailleur off and see how she goes. Fortunately it's still warm and beautiful here this morning....
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Old 09-20-11, 06:26 AM   #6
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...I'll go with titanium instead.
I friend of mine has a Lightspeed Blueridge. I wish they still made that bike. Wonderful for winter, rain, commuting, long rides, whatever, and comfortable.

I'd steal his, but it's too small for me.
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Old 09-20-11, 06:49 AM   #7
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Fortunately it's still warm and beautiful here this morning....
You get all the good weather on your side of the lake. Cool, overcast and wet here today.
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Old 09-20-11, 06:51 AM   #8
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I friend of mine has a Lightspeed Blueridge. I wish they still made that bike. Wonderful for winter, rain, commuting, long rides, whatever, and comfortable.
My '96 Litespeed Classic is the only one of my roadies I'll take out in winter. Slap on the Crud RoadRacer fenders and we don't even have to wait for dry roads.
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Old 09-20-11, 07:08 AM   #9
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anti-seize is a wonderful thing.
^^^ this
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Old 09-20-11, 09:36 AM   #10
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You get all the good weather on your side of the lake. Cool, overcast and wet here today.
Yeah we're blessed here. Didn't anyone tell you that Toronto is the centre of the universe?
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Old 09-20-11, 04:18 PM   #11
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Yeah we're blessed here. Didn't anyone tell you that Toronto is the centre of the universe?
I agree Toronto is a great city in many ways, I love riding through there... it's just too bad that we have such a car-centric/anti-cycling Mayor.
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Old 09-20-11, 07:28 PM   #12
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Didn't anyone tell you that Toronto is the centre of the universe?
I thought it was Rob Ford. Or rather, Rob Ford thinks it's Rob Ford.
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Old 09-29-11, 11:38 PM   #13
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Hey guys I'm here in Brampton. I actually got a used cheap beater with fenders for the winter. The whole bike is made of steel but I won't be going fast at all so I hope the brakes will do their job. Taking the derailleur off is a good idea. It has problems shifting anyways....my concern is though the possibility of the chain catching the next cog and !!!! Now I'm wondering if I should get rid of it and try to get another beater with Aluminum rims. You guys know that drip less oil that they put on cars for rust prevention. Is that product of any use on the bike?
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Old 09-30-11, 12:09 AM   #14
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Hey guys I'm here in Brampton. I actually got a used cheap beater with fenders for the winter. The whole bike is made of steel but I won't be going fast at all so I hope the brakes will do their job. Taking the derailleur off is a good idea. It has problems shifting anyways....my concern is though the possibility of the chain catching the next cog and !!!! Now I'm wondering if I should get rid of it and try to get another beater with Aluminum rims. You guys know that drip less oil that they put on cars for rust prevention. Is that product of any use on the bike?
That oil will just make a mess and get on your clothes. If you take the derailleur off it will ghost-shift and possibly slide off the cassette in the rear. You need a bicycle with sliding drop-outs so you can pull the wheel backwards to tension the chain so it stays put. The tension is what the derailleur would have applied. Aluminum rims corrode also, but steel rims are hopeless in the wet and snow in terms of braking - particularly if a car pulls out in front of you - you're gonna hit it.
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Old 09-30-11, 12:11 AM   #15
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I thought it was Rob Ford. Or rather, Rob Ford thinks it's Rob Ford.
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Old 10-01-11, 09:41 PM   #16
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Come spring, I strip it down, put clean anti-seize on all the threads and fasteners, clean and regrease the bearings, and reassemble. We're heading into our sixth winter with nary a problem.
+1. If you want to see multiple winters out of the bike, do a thorough job in the Spring. Take any rust spots off the frame with steel wool (I have a steel frame) and wax it (car wax).

During the winter, try to keep your bike as clean as possible. However, water is not always a good think in freezing temps. I use WD-40 on the drivetrain. Not the most environmentally correct thing to do, however. But even with that, I occasionally lose the front derailleur for a day to two. If here's snow on the ground, I occasionally use that to clean off gunk on parts. Less chance of water freezing somewhere in a mechanism since the water is already frozen.
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Old 10-03-11, 11:57 AM   #17
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Safety First so I'll sell the all steel bike and use the Schwinn Tango for the winter. It has fenders and aluminum wheels. Only thing is the brakes are terrible. You guys recommend any brake pads for the winter? It has cheap calipers on the front and a hopeless band brake for the rear. I don't know what that band brake exists or if it can even be serviced. From what I understand they shouldn't get wet. Anyone aware of a cheap solution? Ideally I would like to change the front and rear to V-Brakes but it doesn't have the mounts....unless I can retrofit some somehow.
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Old 10-03-11, 06:03 PM   #18
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You guys recommend any brake pads for the winter?
Kool Stop, the salmon (pink) colored ones.
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Old 10-05-11, 12:56 PM   #19
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Are there inexpensive stainless steel rotors available for disc brakes? Are there "weatherproof" pads for the Avid BB7 brakes? I've never used disc brakes before but I'm fed up with the crappy braking in the rain on my 20+ year old road bike with Diacompe "G?" side-pull brakes. They have some old cheap brake pads in them now, perhaps the Kool Stop red, or, black + red brake pads would make enough difference that I could live with them in the rain/snow? [I've got aluminum rims, wouldn't even think of having a bike with steel wheels - why would anyone? If cost is an issue, you can get 2nd hand used aluminum wheels cheap at a bike "co-op" etc.]

I've found rain to be more of a problem than winter weather but one guy at a LBS was saying disc brakes are terrible in the winter, the slush + salt could ruin a pair of rotors after just one ride if you didn't clean it after. Also, he said that the pads could quickly be ruined too. Maybe he just hates disc brakes for some reason and was exagerating, but I do not know...
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Old 10-05-11, 04:22 PM   #20
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Are there inexpensive stainless steel rotors available for disc brakes?

I've found rain to be more of a problem than winter weather but one guy at a LBS was saying disc brakes are terrible in the winter, the slush + salt could ruin a pair of rotors after just one ride if you didn't clean it after. Also, he said that the pads could quickly be ruined too. Maybe he just hates disc brakes for some reason and was exagerating, but I do not know...
All Shimano/ Avid disc rotors are made from stainless steel. Mine have not rusted after several winters. Disc brakes such as Avid BB7's are great in winter time. Don't listen to that one guy at your LBS who told you disc brakes will get ruined after one ride, he doesn't have a clue what he is talking about.
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Old 10-06-11, 03:30 PM   #21
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Steel bikes are just fine in the winter, the come from the factory with a space-age coating known as paint. As long as the paint stays intact, the steel frame will do just fine. Of course, a coating of wax won't hurt. If your old bike has chipped or worn paint, or has chrome that has rusted, it might be tie for a repaint or a touch-up. My 22 year old steel Hardrock turned commuter has been through the last 5 Boston winters with no problems. I have touched up paint, and this year it will be getting wax treatment. I just bought the wax for a restoration bike I'm working on, otherwise, I'd still be without wax.
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Old 10-15-11, 02:22 PM   #22
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Wonder if powder-coating would be any better than just paint for keeping off crud. 'Course, if the idea is to stay cheap then that's kind of a no-go. Still, one powder coating < new frame.
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