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  1. #1
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    How do you clean your bike after a good winter ride?

    I went out for my longest winter ride to date today, and had my RD get really encrusted and then frozen by snow and slushy muck buildup. Got me wondering how you folks go about de-mucking your bikes after a ride in some snow/slush. Do you even bother to do it after every ride? I did my best to crack off and brush away as much buildup as possible, but am a tad concerned that the steel components in my drivetrain are going to get corroded if I keep exposing the bike to these conditions without a thorough cleaning each time. Please help me de-noob myself just a little more!

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    Let dry first. Brush it off when dry. Then spray it gently with water. Use a long brush and some soap. Rinse it off. Dry it and re-lube.

    The above once a week. Rest of the week after each ride, let it dry, wipe it off. Spray some simple green, clean it off quick and then dry it.

  3. #3
    Sprinter linus's Avatar
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    Don't let it dry. Spray with water after your ride and lube the chain. That's all.

  4. #4
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    just use caution w water and the rear derailleur cable & housing if you are storing or riding the bike below freezing. I once made that mistake and had to disasemble clean and reassemble in darkness at 17 degrees one nasty morning commute because I could not shift the rear.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  5. #5
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    It's definitely one of winters unique pain-in-the-butt issues. There's really no easy way to keep the bike clean when riding in slush and sand and salt and whatever. Corrosion, to some extent at least, is almost assured. But you can keep it to a minimum if you keep after it.

    After a sloppy ride, I usually just spray it off with water, preferably warm or hot water. Low pressure spray, try not to get water inside cable housings, small parts, etc. Let it dry as much as possible and then lube the chain before it corrodes. I usually put a little lube on anything else that moves as well. Wipe off the excess. I plan to use a lot more lube in the winter months.

    Once the sun comes out and the roads dry off, it's not nearly as bad.

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    I don't clean it until spring. I let it stay in the garage where it won't thaw. Rather than clean I oil the snot out of everything that isn't greased.

    I bike commuted all last winter in central Wisconsin so my bike got lots of salt exposure. I did not notice excessive rust. The chain was a little sticky after my spring cleaning, but enough oil and it loosened up. I am still riding on all the same components as I did last year (except for brake pads).

    I suppose if you have a pet bike that you ride solely for enjoyment - it makes sense to take special care of it. But for commuting purposes I just do not understand the rationale that people put forward about the salt being bad for a bike. True it will cause things to rust and wear out sooner, but to opt to drive a $30,000 car in the same brine makes no sense at all. For the cost of one car repair you can buy a very nice bike to ride all winter and you could just throw the bike away in the spring and still be money ahead.

    Heck you could probably justify buying a new winter bike every year by dropping your YMCA membership where you go to ride an "indoor" bike.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque View Post
    I don't clean it until spring. I let it stay in the garage where it won't thaw. Rather than clean I oil the snot out of everything that isn't greased.

    I bike commuted all last winter in central Wisconsin so my bike got lots of salt exposure. I did not notice excessive rust. The chain was a little sticky after my spring cleaning, but enough oil and it loosened up. I am still riding on all the same components as I did last year (except for brake pads).

    I suppose if you have a pet bike that you ride solely for enjoyment - it makes sense to take special care of it. But for commuting purposes I just do not understand the rationale that people put forward about the salt being bad for a bike. True it will cause things to rust and wear out sooner, but to opt to drive a $30,000 car in the same brine makes no sense at all. For the cost of one car repair you can buy a very nice bike to ride all winter and you could just throw the bike away in the spring and still be money ahead.

    Heck you could probably justify buying a new winter bike every year by dropping your YMCA membership where you go to ride an "indoor" bike.
    Sure, but I'd suggest that it all depends on what you're riding through. I've had winters in my area where I only had to clean off my bike once or twice, and I rode on a daily basis. This winter, however, is not one of those. I rode a couple of days ago in horrible slushy conditions, and if I had just parked my bike afterwards without at least spraying off the slop, it would be frozen solid today, as in, it would not be able to shift, the brakes wouldn't work, the chain would probably not even go through the rear derailleur. A little slush or snow is no big deal, but a large build-up will make a regular bicycle basically cease to function.

  8. #8
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    What kind of fenders do you have? Good full-coverage fenders make for a lot less cleaning later.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

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    Hmm. Here in central Wisconsin we get plenty of slushy mid-twenty degree days (ride home), followed by a single-digit or sub-zero morning commute to work.

    I've never had a problem with moving parts not moving. I've had some hiccups in shifting as sometimes I had to shift two or three gears past the target gear just to get things moving. And sometimes the ice forms inbetween the gears of the cluster which makes the chain not want to sink in.

    I just followed a co-worker's advice to use lithium grease on all the places where a cable enters a conduit or turns a corner. Then I regularly oil derailluers, chain, and brakes.

    I thought the grease and oil just keeps the ice from "bonding" to the parts, like oiling a frypan to keep the egs from sticking. But this is just my limited experience. Maybe this winter will be different.

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    Yep I got full-coverage fenders. I forgot to mention that. I consider that an essential part of winter commuting gear.

  11. #11
    Senior Member SmallFront's Avatar
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    My bikes are in a (somewhat) heated basement, and both are made from aluminium, so I worry less about road salt and whatnot. And if there's a huge amount of snow and slush caked on, it will have melted by the morning. I don't do cleaning in the winter, unless something is not working right and I need to clean it to lube/grease it. I don't have any "trophy bikes", though. It's a means to an end. If they get worn down a bit quicker, I don't care.

    Edit: I have full mudguards too - at least on the one bike I use the most.

  12. #12
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    yeah I think the grease would help keep the water out of the cable housings. better quality cables/housings have tighter clearances so there's less room for water to get in, also just heard about these:

    Lined and coated cables for gears and brakes offer a low maintenance solution. The likes of Jagwire produce cables sets with a proprietary L3 liner and Fibrax make a Pro-formance sealed cable kit, which should keep gears and brakes working smoothly through the winter grind.

    here:

    http://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/...fing-your-bike
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  13. #13
    Senior Member flan48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by awfulwaffle View Post
    I went out for my longest winter ride to date today, and had my RD get really encrusted and then frozen by snow and slushy muck buildup. Got me wondering how you folks go about de-mucking your bikes after a ride in some snow/slush. Do you even bother to do it after every ride? I did my best to crack off and brush away as much buildup as possible, but am a tad concerned that the steel components in my drivetrain are going to get corroded if I keep exposing the bike to these conditions without a thorough cleaning each time. Please help me de-noob myself just a little more!
    I had this issue yesterday morning - came back from my 12 mile ride, on public streets and roads, and every nook and cranny on the bike, along with a good part of the lower frame and down tube, was loaded with some a sandy grit. I used a grunge brush on the chain, then sprayed window cleaner in the hard to reach places, followed by WD-40 to displace water.
    I then wiped down the chain, lubed it (I like Tri-Flow Superior lubricant), wiped it down and lubed once more.

    I did decide that in the future I would hose off any gunk, dry as best as possible, and apply WD-40 to get rid of any residual water. I will then get rid of the WD-40, via treatment with mineral spirits. When dry, re-lube (the chain).
    Perhaps I am too anal about this!

    Happy Holidays and best regards to all!
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  14. #14
    Speed is Life... UnfilteredDregs's Avatar
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    Took my wheels off, grabbed a bucket and brush and brought the frame in the shower with me...scrubbed the frame and mechanisms, rinsed, did the wheels & tires... Dried with a towel, brought it outside and threw on some Rock-n-Roll extreme lube...voila, done. 15 minutes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque View Post

    Heck you could probably justify buying a new winter bike every year by dropping your YMCA membership where you go to ride an "indoor" bike.
    Yep, our family YMCA membership was $120 a month. My "new" winter bike is a '96 Aluminum Rockhopper that cost $100. The chain looked like hell today after two weeks though the slop and salt. I just lubed it up, but it still kills me to ride it like that.

  16. #16
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I added an extension to my front fender last night and took it on a snowy, slushy, gritty commute today. The crank, chain, and frame stayed as clean as they were when I set out this morning.



    Have fun cleaning your bikes, though, guys.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  17. #17
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    I hose mine off lightly with as little water as possible by my basement drain, then dry the complete bike as best as I can with a rag. I then use the rag I clean and lube my chain with (as it still retains diesel fuel) on all the wheels, spokes, hubs, and any nuts and bolts, etc. Gets things clean and shiny with a film of oil on everything.

    Sometimes I will then clean and lube the chain, but normally I park it by my coal stove to dry over night and clean and lube the chain the next day with diesel fuel using the same rag.

  18. #18
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    Before winter hits I usually just go through and clean/grease everything that I can as well as clean and wax the frame on my bike that sees the worst weather, I re-apply framesaver every couple years during this cleaning and then usually do nothing more than lube the chain until spring.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    I added an extension to my front fender last night and took it on a snowy, slushy, gritty commute today. The crank, chain, and frame stayed as clean as they were when I set out this morning.



    Have fun cleaning your bikes, though, guys.
    Good job. I did the same thing, but didn't quite make it long enough. Have to try again this weekend.

    And is that an exposed vent hole I see on the inside of your fork? Better get a piece of tape over that!

  20. #20
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    It's too bad our co-op is in a basement with no running water or drain, otherwise I'd set up a bike cleaning station. It would be darned nice to have a heated indoor space for bike cleaning.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  21. #21
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    This is another benefit of the +1 "addiction." When the weather's been crappy and there's still salt residue on the road, I take my bike that's now been relegated to "spare" and save the nice one for a better day. If you have lots of crappy weather, considering what you can get a used bike for, even if you don't really have a +1, it can be worth getting one just to avoid the hassles of constant winter cleaning.

  22. #22
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loky1179 View Post
    Good job. I did the same thing, but didn't quite make it long enough. Have to try again this weekend.

    And is that an exposed vent hole I see on the inside of your fork? Better get a piece of tape over that!
    Yeah, all of the original vent holes are still open. I've generally been of the mind that the frame is better off when you let it breathe. I'll probably give it a treatment of Frame Saver next time I have it "open."
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  23. #23
    Senior Member ka0use's Avatar
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    i keep mine inside.
    when arriving home i rinse it off with hot tap water outside, let it drip onto towels on my interior landing, then give it a cursory wipe off.
    first star on the right and straight on 'til morning
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  24. #24
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    I ride a single speed coaster brake mtb with full fenders and studded snow tires.
    Before each winter I do a complete over haul of the wheel bearings, bottom bracket and head set.
    I wax the frame and lube up everything ( and Boeshield T9 inside the frame), then I don't wash the bike until spring when once a again I do a complete overhaul and put my regular slicks on.

    I keep my bike cold as I don't think it is good to go from hot to cold.
    I do keep everything lubed up real good with Boeshield T9.

  25. #25
    Senior Member billnuke1's Avatar
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    I usually give the bikes an air shower with the compressor. Being careful with the bearings and such! No running water in garage. Tri flow, WD40, Phil's, etc. as needed. This regimen will change as the season progresses of course!

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