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Keeping a bike outdoors. Tarp it or don't tarp it?

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Keeping a bike outdoors. Tarp it or don't tarp it?

Old 04-15-23, 06:02 AM
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hhk25
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Keeping a bike outdoors. Tarp it or don't tarp it?

My daughter is in an unfortunate situation where she is unable to bring her bike into her apartment and must keep locked to a railing outside. Other than the obvious security concerns, anyone have any tips for keeping a bike outdoors? She wants to tarp it but my opinion on that is that the tarp will trap moisture and accelerate the corrosion.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-15-23, 06:11 AM
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You can try a relatively tall but narrow single-person tent. It'll keep all the rain off, and most of the dew. But it still won't stop the humidity problem (whatever comes in through the zipper's gaps, etc). Can't imagine how that'd "trap" such moisture against the bike's parts. It would certainly reduce the ability of a breeze to dry off surface moisture. Kind of a "six of one, half dozen of another" problem.

Have a semi-finished storage area that's tucked underneath a good-sized stairwell, and had an old bike out there for 10yrs or so. Annually, despite the relatively decent protection, it still needed replacement of certain "stainless" bolts and fittings. Never did get any rain or snow on it. But the fact of being "outside" left no doubt on what would eventually occur.
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Old 04-15-23, 09:05 AM
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I think the bike should definitely be covered at night. Maybe a cotton sheet under the waterproof layer.

Where I live, often there will be a morning dew covering everything that's uncovered.

You can get a bicycle cover for less than $20.

Last edited by tyrion; 04-15-23 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 04-15-23, 09:38 AM
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I'm amazed at how few people can't seem to make room in a "tiny" apartment for a critical piece of transportation. My house is 840 square feet & I have 15 bicycles in it.

The trick? Cloud storage. All those random bits of who-knows-what that you don't use, haven't used in 6 months, or likely won't get used in the next 6 months goes away. Craigslist, FB Marketplace, Buy nothing, OfferUp, etc...If you, a common person own it, it's not special or unique & is likely ubiquitous enough across society that if ever you needed it again, it could be easily obtained at a cost far less than the cost and hassle of storing it for "just in case."

Purge that junk. You don't need a tarp to protect what's important. Keep what matters inside.

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Last edited by base2; 04-15-23 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 04-15-23, 03:14 PM
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I keep my commuter on the porch which is exposed to wind and rain. I use a cover specifically shaped for bikes. I got it off amazon and think it works great
Amazon.com : Bike Covers, Outdoor Waterproof Bicycle Covers with Lock Hole for Mountain Road Electric Bikes : Sports & Outdoors
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Old 04-15-23, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion
...a cotton sheet under the waterproof layer.
Or a loose Canvas Tarp open at the bottom. Also very important is suspending the wheels off the ground...
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Old 04-16-23, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by seidko
I have deficient space to store my bicycle inside. I dread anyway that it will rust away inside a couple of years assuming I store the bicycle outside. My inquiry is twofold: Will putting away a bicycle outside be an issue? How might I forestall rust and perhaps different sorts of rot?
I sprayed the inside of my frame with Boeshield.

https://boeshield.com/

Keeping the bike clean helps too, but I'm not so good at that.
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Old 04-16-23, 03:04 PM
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It really depends on how good the bike was to begin with and this is one of the price differences from cheap to good bikes. More stainless, chrome plated, galvanized, powdercoat, ED coated, anodized aluminum, bearing seals, etc etc are going to help a lot. I think I would have zero qualms about leaving my MTB out in the rain - not that I'm going to. Dutch bikes live their entire lives outdoors. They are painted and plated and sealed up. If it were a Magna or some Eighties racing bike, it would be garbage in a few months.
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Old 04-17-23, 07:04 AM
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Before bike specific covers were cheap and easily available, I would use a grill cover, worked quite well.
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Old 04-17-23, 07:17 AM
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We need to distinguish between a couple of use cases. Overnight storage, or perhaps a weekend? Bike cover will work well. Store it for three to nine months? She needs to bring it home to Mom and Dad's house, or everything that can rust will rust solid.
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Old 04-17-23, 07:57 AM
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if she does want a cover this one has been OK for me, for occasional use
Puroma Bike Cover Outdoor Waterproof Bicycle Covers Rain Sun UV Dust Wind Proof with Lock Hole for Mountain Road Electric Bike

but it is a juggling act depending on weather
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Old 04-17-23, 12:57 PM
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I'm with @base2 here. A bicycle left outside overnight screams "I don't care". Decent quality modern bikes don't have much on them that can rust. A good thing, because a tarp does nothing about the temperature differentials that cause condensation and rust on Department Store level bikes. I lived in a 16 unit condo complex and management with little notice banned storage of bikes on the front balconies where the majority of those that did have bikes kept them. Didn't affect us, we kept our bikes in the 'garage' that could be purchased at additional cost. A number of people started locking their bikes to a covered stairwell. One night a wrecking crew came through and trashed all the bikes because they could. A folding bike becomes a viable alternative I would consider faced with a really intractable indoor storage situation.
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Old 04-18-23, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by hhk25
My daughter is in an unfortunate situation where she is unable to bring her bike into her apartment and must keep locked to a railing outside. Other than the obvious security concerns, anyone have any tips for keeping a bike outdoors? She wants to tarp it but my opinion on that is that the tarp will trap moisture and accelerate the corrosion.

Thoughts?
It’s obviously better if she can figure out a way to keep it indoors, but a cover would definitely be better than nothing. I would suggest something smaller and made from something other than the traditional nylon tarp.. Search for “bike cover” on Amazon and you’ll see many products under $30, most under $20. These will prevent direct contact with the weather but still allow some air circulation to let excess moisture evaporate.
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Old 04-20-23, 08:42 AM
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I kept my trusty "College" 3-speed locked outside for 3 years. It was totally exposed to the elements, year round, for 3 years. It got a little rust (Especially the chain.) but other than that it did fine.
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Old 04-21-23, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Lambkin55
I kept my trusty "College" 3-speed locked outside for 3 years. It was totally exposed to the elements, year round, for 3 years. It got a little rust (Especially the chain.) but other than that it did fine.
My old bike spent about seven years in my dad's shed hanging and wrapped in a cotton sheet (he took it there along with some electronic equipment not really thinking I would come back for it). The temperature there is almost like that outdoors, but there is no direct contact with water. All I noticed after that time was a rusty chain and bad rubber that needed replacing.
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Old 04-25-23, 10:26 PM
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I think a tarp would help much more than it would hurt if either precipitation or morning dew are concerns. Also, don't underestimate how much damage the sun can do over long enough periods of time.

Don't know if she has room for something like this, but I currently keep my errand bike in a "tent shed" like this one. I got mine from the Home Depot a while back, but they no longer seem to sell it.

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Old 04-27-23, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by ilchymis
I think a tarp would help much more than it would hurt if either precipitation or morning dew are concerns. Also, don't underestimate how much damage the sun can do over long enough periods of time.
Don't know if she has room for something like this, but I currently keep my errand bike in a "tent shed" like this one. I got mine from the Home Depot a while back, but they no longer seem to sell it.
I like that vent! does it have a little fan?
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Old 04-29-23, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
I like that vent! does it have a little fan?
There's no fan included in this tent, but the vent has still provided enough ventilation for small amounts of moisture to evaporate.
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Old 04-30-23, 01:29 PM
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Friction shifters, non-leather saddle, and regular maintenance should keep the bike running fine.
Sure, it's perfect if you can store it indoors, but it won't melt or rust completely, right away outside.

A woman from my country has been touring the world for years now. Her bike is either on the road, or parked by her tent (most of the time, not always of course). It works.

Though, if possible, try to keep it away from noon summer sun - that does destroy rubbery & plastic parts more quickly. If that too is not possible, just expect a bit more frequent tyre and handlebar grips change (depending on the exact model and how well it holds up).
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Old 05-16-23, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin
Friction shifters, non-leather saddle, and regular maintenance should keep the bike running fine.
Sure, it's perfect if you can store it indoors, but it won't melt or rust completely, right away outside.
It sort of depends on where you are. In central Florida, where I grew up, a bicycle left out in the elements 24/7 would get wrecked very quickly by sun and rain. (Salty ocean air was also an issue.) Even exposed rubber parts on cars succumb fast there.

In northern California, where I live now, both sun and rain are much less damaging.
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Old 05-18-23, 03:38 PM
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This bike sat out in Montreal winters next door to me for 4 years. No protection other than that it was protected from the rain. My neighbour gave it to me and all I did was to clean it up a bit and change the handlebars. It has almost no rust and a few paint chips covered up with silver nail polish. Draw you own conclusions. Mine is that a tarp would have would have made it look much worse

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