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Road salt: how big a threat?

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Road salt: how big a threat?

Old 12-01-18, 07:53 PM
  #1  
belacqua
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Road salt: how big a threat?

How do you all feel about road salt?

​​​​Do you ride all / some /none of your steel bikes on salted roads? How do you decide?

How big a threat do you feel it is to your frames?

What about roads that are salty but not particularly wet?

If you consider salt a big threat, then how do you decide when it's safe to go back out?

Any tips on maintenance?

Thank you for any thoughts on this subject.
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Old 12-01-18, 08:01 PM
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For the sake of a picture, the cherished 620 I am trying to decide whether to ride in addition to my beater this winter:
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Old 12-01-18, 08:12 PM
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Fenders are a huge help, that road salt is nasty! I use a portable $15 chemical sprayer to quickly hose down my winter mtb.
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Old 12-01-18, 08:58 PM
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I live 1 km downwind of the Pacific Ocean. Road salt is not an issue, but airborne salt spray is. Everything rusts quickly here, so the less chrome, the better.
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Old 12-01-18, 08:59 PM
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Once things are properly frozen over, the salt hasn't been a problem for me. The biggest concern is while it is melting, when the salty slush is all over the road and splashing all over the place.

As noted, fenders are the first line of defense. A secondary measure is to keep the frame waxed.
Wiping the crud off of the frame and parts is helpful too, as is filling any nicks in the paint with touch-up paint.

There's no question that riding a bike in the salty crap is going to be detrimental, however slight it might be. Most of my bikes are kept safely away from the stuff, but a few are routinely subjected to this abuse.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 12-01-18, 09:53 PM
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I'd keep that bike parked. Rigid frame steel MTBs are plentiful, cheap and basically disposable. Easy enough to recreate your SS set up with a MTB.

Last edited by wrk101; 12-01-18 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 12-01-18, 10:59 PM
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I use my least favorite steel frame for foul weather (Moser with Columbus tre-tubi). It has just under 15,000 miles of snow, salt and rain. I have full fenders on it. The frame still looks good, but I've had a set of aluminum rims rot out. Also, I destroyed a bottom bracket and a couple of sets of sealed-bearing RD pulleys.
Let me add: When I put my garden hose away at the first freeze, the bike doesn't get washed down until the spring thaw.

Last edited by gearbasher; 12-01-18 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 12-01-18, 11:30 PM
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My steel Trek has been my year-round commuter through salty Chicago winters for almost 30 years. In my experience, aluminum components and chains suffer far more than the frame. I wipe it down and clean / lube the chain after slushy winter rides.
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Old 12-02-18, 12:11 AM
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In my salt winters with no car, I rode steel frames (not that there were options then). I stripped and brush painted the frame with 2-part epoxy (and got results that were surprisingly good because epoxy paint changes viscosity as it sets up and flows wonderfully, hiding all kinds of brush strokes, etc. Just don't touch it at this stage!)

Epoxy forms a really good barrier. It you have epoxy paint, good frame save inside the tubes and grease all the threads with marine boat trailer hub grease, the steel will never see the salt. The aluminum is a different story. Electrolysis with the aluminum parts and other dissimilar metals is a different story. Every winter my spoke nipples used to seize up solid and I would cut the rims off with wire-cutters. (They were sewup rims and quite square from all the bottomless potholes so no real loss. Now I would use the same marine grease when I built the wheels.)

I am a huge fan of: well used steel frames that I have zero attachment to, fix gears and Mafac brakes because they work on salt roads (and the ice, snow and wet that come with them) really well. Keeping chains lubed and working well with derailleurs is quite possible, but unless you want to be wedded to bike maintenance, a real hassle. With a fix gear, one or two frozen links is not a big deal. You just slide the wheel forward to get some slack back. And with good bikes, when you are bored, you can count up the dollars worth of wear and tear and loss from the coming 3 months or you can park it and do less damage to the $400 beater.

And another trick - if you have to bring your wet, salty and filthy bike inside, park it leaning against a wall on a 6' plastic carpet runner. (Like the clear plastic carpet guard you put your office chair on.) They do a really good job of keeping the mess contained and you don't have to wash your bike after riding, (That salt you wash off doesn't do your living quarters any good either.) In the morning, you just pick up your now dried mess, carry it outside, jump on it and ride.

This comes from three winters in Boston and three in Ann Arbor. (I had a car two of those winters but commuted to campus where I could not park.) A lot of salt was used in Boston. In Ann Arbor. the policy was to match each snowflake with a salt crystal. Snow and ice didn't have a chance.

Ben
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Old 12-02-18, 06:33 AM
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From 1987 to 1997 I was a bicycle cop in Dayton, Ohio; we rode year round, regardless of conditions. The only thing that worked on the havoc salt and the rest of that stuff caused was a product designed for boats. You spray it on in a pre-treat with a pump up yard sprayer and then again at the end of day followed by a hose rinse. It cut down on component expenses drastically and a test between one of our older bikes that was just hosed off vs the salt remover were like night and day.

This was one of the products we used:

Salt-Away Home Page

https://www.amazon.com/Salt-Away-Pro.../dp/B0000AXVG9
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Old 12-02-18, 07:03 AM
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I commute year round in Boston, and road salt is really tough on chains, hubs, spokes, derailleur, and any non-stainless steel parts. It hasn’t been a problem for steel frames themselves, but, still, I’m building up an alu Felt cross bike with parts bin components to trash this winter and giving my Bridgestone RB-T a break.
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Old 12-02-18, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
I'd keep that bike parked. Rigid frame steel MTBs are plentiful, cheap and basically disposable. Easy enough to recreate your SS set up with a MTB.
+1. Except they don't dispose well, they tend to last.
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Old 12-02-18, 08:17 AM
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Well over the years I've seen issues. I mainly used aluminum frames but there were still corrosion issues. All mounting hardware get's attacked. Plastic fenders seem to get brittle and fall apart every couple of years, etc, etc....
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Old 12-02-18, 08:41 AM
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The biggest issues I've had are where steel and aluminum surfaces meet. I had a steel bottom bracket in an aluminum frame...it became _cemented_ to the frame, and neither myself nor two experienced LBS staff could remove it for servicing. I also had a Greenfield kickstand break in 2 where the steel bolts met the aluminum body. The corrosion expanded and split the kickstand apart.

Steel frames themselves have stood up fairly well. I do touch-ups with rust paint where I see rust developing. Components are another matter: I tend to replace derailleurs every couple of years, and freehubs sometimes seize.
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Old 12-02-18, 08:49 AM
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I don't ride anything steel that I like during the Toronto winters. Fenders help and so does a power wash every few days but I ride my carbon bikes pretty much exclusively until April. In fact, road salt is why I bought a carbon bike.
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Old 12-02-18, 09:25 AM
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I won't ride anything I care about on Twin Cities' roads in the winter.

I just switch the tires on my Miyata in the winter to studded Nokians that I bought at our swap in Blaine two years ago.

I stop at a car wash by our house in STP when the bike gets too grimy.

SS is the way to go. imho


Untitled by gomango1849, on Flickr
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Old 12-02-18, 10:32 AM
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Last winter I used my Cannondale ST600 and the chain and rims suffered the most. Itís from general grime getting pulled up into the works and acting like valve grinding paste.
That bike is now in line for a rebuild.

This year winter snuck on me, and the bike Iíve got set ip the best for it is my Miyata 1K. Not what Iíd intended for a ďwinter beaterĒ! But it has a 38mm knobby front tire, and a 32mm back tire with roadish tread, and that combo is awesome 😎. Having a rear tire that will wash out BEFORE the front tire makes the set up feel very safe. I know if I loose grip it will happen in the back, and I can still steer and keep the rubber parts down and shiny parts up.

The salt!! When I ride that Miyata 1000 to work, I park it inside on a big piece of cardboard and hose it down with WD40. I hit the cantiís, the B.B. the derailleurs, the hubs, and the peddles. Iím fast and sloppy, it gets on the tires and the rims and the brake pads, and I donít notice the brakes are any less effective. The slush and wet are very effective at removing oil from the pads and rims!! 🙄

My next project is building up my Ď84 Miyata 610 into, like, a nice beater, if there is such a thing. Itís in well worn but no issues condition, and with the Hi-ten fork and stays itís very solid feeling. It also has more clearance than any of my stable of bikes. Without fenders it clears a 700c 41mm tire.

I plan on a single speed build up, full coverage fenders, and a chain oiler. Eventually a Sturmy 3 or 5 speeed and chain guard. The idea is a classic touring rig, but with the running gear of a Raleigh 3 speed city commuter. Eventually a Dyno hub and lights.

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Old 12-02-18, 10:34 AM
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Once they salt the roads, I stop riding until a rain washes it away. One reason is the damage the salt does to the bike, and another is that drivers don't know how to handle winter roads, whether they be salted or not.
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Old 12-02-18, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
I won't ride anything I care about on Twin Cities' roads in the winter.

I just switch the tires on my Miyata in the winter to studded Nokians that I bought at our swap in Blaine two years ago.

I stop at a car wash by our house in STP when the bike gets too grimy.

SS is the way to go. imho


Untitled by gomango1849, on Flickr
I like everything going on here. Double lights, the wedge bag makes the technomic stem look right, classy bars, nice wrap, the white tires, the Brooks, VERY nice 👍

...needs more fender!
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Old 12-02-18, 11:27 AM
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Use near disposable bikes:
Non suspension steel frame 26 inch atb from the 80 some 90s are near freebies. To this day, I even find brand new replacement tires - various type $5 each. Clip on plastic fenders, convert to drop bar (if desired) is the way I roll.

Also, I don't bring them inside of which only makes a mess and causes corrosion to the inside tubes (due heat cycle condensation). Use anything on hand to spray chain and shift group but avoid oils, sticks in the cold. For ultra freeze conditions, pour Heet on the shift group then saturate with WD40.
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Old 12-02-18, 12:21 PM
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Apply fresh water..

Make washing down your bike frequently as convenient as possible,
so you Do It regularly..
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Old 12-02-18, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Chr0m0ly View Post



I like everything going on here. Double lights, the wedge bag makes the technomic stem look right, classy bars, nice wrap, the white tires, the Brooks, VERY nice 👍

...needs more fender!
Thanks! Yeah, you're probably right.

I've got fenders on two bikes, but they are mtb's or gravel bikes.

Something to think about when the roads get slushy here though, as it's super sloppy atm.
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Old 12-02-18, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Make washing down your bike frequently as convenient as possible,
so you Do It regularly..
If you live in real salt/snow/slush country, one of the realities is that you may well have shut down all outside water sources to keep pipes from busting. My Boston winters were when I was young man in my parent's house. Making a mess int the basement to wash my bikes was not OK though I could bring them in. Likewise, in my apartments, I had no access to outside water or a hose and dirty wash water was not welcome. Hence the great benefit to keeping the bike really simple as stated in a previous post.

Ben
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Old 12-02-18, 12:48 PM
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Wash the bike with soap, don't just rinse it, and if possible, keep it cold, like in a cold garage. Rusting is a chemical reaction, and the rate of reaction increases with temperature.

Seal up holes in the frame, use a piece of old rubber inner tube as a gasket on the seat tube.....and a good framesaver for inside the frame.
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Old 12-02-18, 01:58 PM
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Once the road salt comes out, my good Steel goes into hibernation. Winter beaters come out.
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