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Riding in the Rain: Excess Wear on the Bike?

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Riding in the Rain: Excess Wear on the Bike?

Old 10-22-18, 03:45 PM
  #1  
radroad
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Riding in the Rain: Excess Wear on the Bike?

I bought a 'winter/beater' bike a couple of years ago, expecting it to take a lot of abuse on rainy days with not so meticulous maintenance. Since then I have ridden many times in light to moderate rain.

I have noticed zero problems due to rain riding. No chain rust, no excessive pad or rim wear. There is some rust on the stem bolts but otherwise I don't notice any more wear than on bikes that don't see the rain.

This bike gets regular maintenance but I'm not studious or fastidious about it. It seems like I could ride nicer bikes in the rain and expect even better results? I feel like riding in the rain doesn't make much difference in the wear and replacement of bicycle components.

I wouldn't leave my bike out in a torrential downpour but an hour or two of riding in light to moderate rain seems to be absolutely no problem.

Last edited by radroad; 10-22-18 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 10-22-18, 04:36 PM
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Having wet brakes will wear out the brakes shoes and the braking track upon your wheels faster. Not a problem with disc brakes though.
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Old 10-22-18, 04:57 PM
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I destroyed the hubs on my rain bike. After several years of use and abuse, they were completely rusted and pitted inside, though the wheels were crap to begin with. Also I get some minor rusting on other parts/bolts, but not much else. I just hose it off when I get back to get the gunk off, dry off the chain and re-lube it. I also take the bike inside to dry faster. I have noticed if I leave it in the garage, and it takes days to dry, that seems to be worse than if I bring it into the warm house and it dries out the same day.
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Old 10-22-18, 05:45 PM
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1) Fit fenders
B) Lube chain
III) Proceed
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Old 10-22-18, 05:53 PM
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Your biggest issues will be things you can't see: water getting past seals, getting into cable housings, getting into frame, etc. And of course washing the oil off the chain, grit in the chain is hard on all drive chain parts.

Obviously, this can be more of a problem on some bikes than others, depending on quality of seals, etc.
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Old 10-22-18, 06:02 PM
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Chains, cassettes, brake pads all wear faster. And like cthenn, I destroyed a hub because water infiltrated the seals.
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Old 10-22-18, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by radroad View Post
I bought a 'winter/beater' bike a couple of years ago, expecting it to take a lot of abuse on rainy days with not so meticulous maintenance. Since then I have ridden many times in light to moderate rain.

I have noticed zero problems due to rain riding. No chain rust, no excessive pad or rim wear. There is some rust on the stem bolts but otherwise I don't notice any more wear than on bikes that don't see the rain.

This bike gets regular maintenance but I'm not studious or fastidious about it. It seems like I could ride nicer bikes in the rain and expect even better results? I feel like riding in the rain doesn't make much difference in the wear and replacement of bicycle components.

I wouldn't leave my bike out in a torrential downpour but an hour or two of riding in light to moderate rain seems to be absolutely no problem.
IMO the big thing is wipe it down after the ride.
some BB will be better than others for rain, as will head sets, and also wheel hubs.

use a fender to keep the spray off the seatpost. Or use an old tube as a seal to help keep water from running down into seattube.

imo the biggest wear from rain would be winter rides in states that get snow. Roads get gritting and water washes that grit up and through your driveline. fenders helps.
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Old 10-22-18, 06:25 PM
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Riding without fenders will significantly reduce the life of your bottom bracket as well. One year I did maybe 20-30 hours of heavy rain which means front wheel just spraying directly into the bb area, and when I finally checked my bb it was completely devoid of grease. Rusted, notched and just destroyed. This was Shimano UN55 but had similar experience with FSA Mega Exo/Evo.
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Old 10-22-18, 06:45 PM
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Bearings and friction surfaces need inspection and cleaning/lubrication. Steel bike frames need a framesaver on the inside...or they'll rot from the inside out.

Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Riding without fenders will significantly reduce the life of your bottom bracket as well. One year I did maybe 20-30 hours of heavy rain which means front wheel just spraying directly into the bb area, and when I finally checked my bb it was completely devoid of grease. Rusted, notched and just destroyed. This was Shimano UN55 but had similar experience with FSA Mega Exo/Evo.
Yup. Full coverage fenders do wonders. People love to carp on MegaExo/Evo in particular...Mine is coming up on 10,000 miles of service, through many a long t-storm or downpour ride, and still spins smooth without noise. Keeping water out does wonders. Probably should finally break down and apply grease come thanksgiving time, just to do it.

Even good cartridge units aren't immune to abuse.
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Old 10-22-18, 06:59 PM
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Modern hubs especially cartridge bearing hubs and bottom brackets are very well sealed against contamination, I never had an issue with water or snow getting into my hubs and ruining them... I also run full fenders on all my bikes....The problem with some loose ball bearing hubs is that they don't put enough grease into them at the factory. It's best to take them apart and put a lot of automotive wheel bearing grease into them.
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Old 10-22-18, 07:07 PM
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I clean and repack the wheel bearings after every winter, or at least try to. You'd be amazed to find the amount of contamination that builds up inside. Sealed bearings will fare much better, but will still degrade with continual exposure to moisture.

Once the factory wax/lube wears off from the chain, you'll have to begin wiping off and oiling the chain when you ride in heavy rain. I just recently replaced the chain on my three-season commuter, not because of rust or build up, but just chain stretch.
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Old 10-22-18, 07:54 PM
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I am pretty abusive to some of my bikes. The hardest thing that I do to some of them, is not having a place to bring them in to melt the snow off.

this bike in particular has some pretty messed up spoke nipples. due to the weather.

with that said 'Rain bikes deserve brass nipples!'

As for the rain and everything else..... the biggest thing for me was looking to minimize maintenance. Other than brake cables, a single speed was my answer to minimal maintenance for a bike that sees diverse weather.

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Old 10-22-18, 07:55 PM
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I'm a big fan of "the bounce" after a rain ride. Multiple 3-4" lift and drops, alternating front and rear and letting the bike bounce on the tire in question. Shakes the excess water out of all the little nooks and crannies before any wipedown. Or at least that's what I tell myself it does.
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Old 10-22-18, 08:47 PM
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In my view, any exposure to the elements adds to wear on the bike. But I consider an occasional rainy day or even a downpour to be part of normal cycling. I plan on enjoying my bikes, and maintaining them as needed.

Now, I do make some accommodations for road salt. Mainly, I limit myself to one bike during the winter, so I have just one bike to prepare and clean up.
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Old 10-22-18, 09:03 PM
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The only thing that really rust's up bikes is being left outdoors. 24/7 humidity will wreck a bike. This includes sheds, and even garages, especially where draught-proofing is poor.

A couple of hours a day in the rain is nothing in comparison, especially when the bike is kept indoors.

This bike has just spent well over a year as a car-free daily. No matter what the weather, it has done 400 days in the last 400 days. It's kept indoors. I have searched, but trust me, there is not a spot of corrosion anywhere. The rear spoke nipples have dulled a bit, though.

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Old 10-23-18, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by radroad View Post
I feel like riding in the rain doesn't make much difference in the wear and replacement of bicycle components.
I wouldn't leave my bike out in a torrential downpour but an hour or two of riding in light to moderate rain seems to be absolutely no problem.
With a modicum of care and basic prevention, rain isn't a major accelerator of wear. As a shop mechanic, I see far more damage caused by neglect than by use.
Unless your bike is made out of sugar, a little rain won't hurt a thing.
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Old 10-23-18, 09:23 AM
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In the past couple years I've had more problems with cable ferrules and adjusters rusting than anything else. Annual bearing re-pack, oil chain when squeaky, oil pivots when chain needs lube, and fenders -- that's my service plan.
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Old 10-23-18, 09:32 AM
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keep the drive train clean, dry & lubed to the best of my ability. replace parts as needed. nothing is precious ...

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Old 11-21-18, 11:44 PM
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I will be coating all bike left outside in the rain with a layer of Boeshield T-9, then a layer of LPS-3, then some ACF-50.

My plan is to be able to leave my cruddy bikes like the Huffys and beach cruisers outside in the rain and if friends want to come ride, they can just jump on a bike and ride it, no tune-up needed! My main problem with these bikes in the past has been: The chains and cables and shifters and brakes and steerer tubes and bottom brackets and wheels all rust up over the winter and then people come over to ride on a nice day---and the only thing not broken is the tires, still inflated :/
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Old 11-22-18, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Having wet brakes will wear out the brakes shoes and the braking track upon your wheels faster. Not a problem with disc brakes though.
This something that everyone says but Iím not sure I agree. Rain shouldnít make the brakes wear out any faster than dry. The grit is there no matter what. If anything, rain should keep the dust down so that the wheels donít have as much dust on them as the water washes it off.

Iíve also done a lot of mountain biking here fenders are a liability and dirt is ubiquitous. Iíve only worn out a couple of rims in 40 years of riding.

Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Riding without fenders will significantly reduce the life of your bottom bracket as well. One year I did maybe 20-30 hours of heavy rain which means front wheel just spraying directly into the bb area, and when I finally checked my bb it was completely devoid of grease. Rusted, notched and just destroyed. This was Shimano UN55 but had similar experience with FSA Mega Exo/Evo.
I also canít agree with this. Again, from mountain biking with unfendered bikes, I have never had a sealed cartridge bearing bottom bracket wear out of any flavor. Iíve replaced a lot of them through upgrades but Iíve never worn on out. I also see a lot of cartridge bearing BBs at my local co-op and have only seen a few that arenít functional. Most of the used ones we have could go several years without issues.

Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
this bike in particular has some pretty messed up spoke nipples. due to the weather.

with that said 'Rain bikes deserve brass nipples!'
Itís not the rain that causes problems with spoke nipples. Itís probably salt, especially with bikes like the one in your picture. Snow is almost always accompanied by salt application and that is going to corrode steel, aluminum and brass. When steel is in contact with either aluminum or brass and in the presence of chloride ions, bad things happen. Chloride ions are particularly good at oxidizing both aluminum and iron. A good spoke prep and oil used during lacing and tensioning will go a long way to avoiding corrosion problems.

Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Modern hubs especially cartridge bearing hubs and bottom brackets are very well sealed against contamination, I never had an issue with water or snow getting into my hubs and ruining them... I also run full fenders on all my bikes....The problem with some loose ball bearing hubs is that they don't put enough grease into them at the factory. It's best to take them apart and put a lot of automotive wheel bearing grease into them.
I donít run full fenders on my bikes but I have to agree. I have Phil Wood hubs that have 20,000+ and 10,000+ (two different sets) on them with zero maintenance and zero problems. If something does go wrong, the cartridges are easily replaceable. Same can be said for my bottom brackets, headsets and even pedal bearings. Why even mess with loose bearings?
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Old 11-22-18, 12:27 AM
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If you pack all serviceable bearings with (all you can pack) marine boat trailer hub grease and use the same on threads, exposed steels, etc. you need not worry about anything getting wet, even very wet. No water the bike will ever see will touch that stuff. I use Finish Line MTB lube (A fairly thick oil) for my winter chains, again because it stays around. (It does get filthy. Oh well.)

Edit: If you build your wheels using the same boat trailer grease, the nipples will never freeze on. I replace rims every 2-3 winters (Pacific NW, rim brakes - that's life) and reuse the spokes for the second and third rim, replacing perhaps three nipples at the rebuilds.

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Old 11-22-18, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post


This something that everyone says but Iím not sure I agree. Rain shouldnít make the brakes wear out any faster than dry. The grit is there no matter what. If anything, rain should keep the dust down so that the wheels donít have as much dust on them as the water washes it off.

...



I also canít agree with this. Again, from mountain biking with unfendered bikes, I have never had a sealed cartridge bearing bottom bracket wear out of any flavor. Iíve replaced a lot of them through upgrades but Iíve never worn on out. I also see a lot of cartridge bearing BBs at my local co-op and have only seen a few that arenít functional. Most of the used ones we have could go several years without issues.


...
One both of these points, it depends. If you live in the Pacific NW, wet riding with rim brakes kills rims. I suspect the culprit is the thousands of square miles of volcanic stone, soil and dust.

If you use a sealed bearing BB that is made purely to race in non-water environments, riding in wet weather can kill them. Fenders (including a good, deep front flap) with these BBs make a big difference. I use Miche BBs on my good fix gear, a ti bike I ride all winter. The Miches because they are ISO taper and not too expensive. (I might go Phil next time around.) I will agree that the oh-so-common Shimano sealed BBs are very hard to kill. But my Sugino 75 cranks don't like their JIS taper.

Ben
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Old 11-22-18, 05:13 AM
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apparently cyccommute has never heard of water cutting before. I mean they don't do aircutting in industrial applications, they do water cutting for reasons.
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Old 11-22-18, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
IMO the big thing is wipe it down after the ride.
fenders helps.
Absolutely. Just takes a few minutes. Wipe your chain too and relube when necessary.
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Old 11-22-18, 07:04 AM
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The issue isnít about certain kinds of weather, or the use of sealed bearings vs non. Itís all about foresight, preparedness and diligence.

A few few points:
1. Not all cartridge bearings are Ďsealedí. And referring to a cartridge bearing as a Ďsealed bearingí is wrong. There are also plenty of loose ball hubs and bbís that have seals to help prevent ingress. How well all of these work is.. well do you trust the water resistant seals in your watch or your Ďweatherproofí camera? How about that new smartphone? Yea me either. And the seals in a proper sealed cartridge bearing are just as effective or not as other seals. The best prevention of ingress is multiple-stage seals, like SKF bbís use, for example.
2. Most corrosion that occurs though, occurs long after your ride in the rain. This almost always comes from simply leaving a bike wet. The best way to prevent this is by simply drying the bike after itís been ridden in the wet. Iím a commuter, and as such I always carry a hand towel to completely dry off the bike, especially on parts that are more prone to corrosion. Chromed steel is a big one. Donít let the bike air dry, especially in a cold or humid enviroment and be surprised you got rust. And if theres rust where you can see, thereís likely more rust where you cant.
3. Use quality grease, especially this time of year. But nothing is more important than diligent maintenence. Doesnít matter if you have all Ďsealed bearingí everything or loose ball bearing everything. Take things apart, inspect them and if necessary clean and re-grease them. If youíre doing a lot of riding in the rain, I would recommend this every two to three months, especially if youíre usibg loose ball bearing components.
4. Excess wear of brake pads and rims, is heavily dependent on where you live, but in general, water and other debris get mixed together with the brake dust thatís already on your pads and rims, when wet. This creates a bit of a Ďslurryí that will also contain whatever is on the road surface, trapped by the rain and kicked up by your tires. (Obviously things like full coverage fenders and even a fully enclosed chaincase make a massive difference here. They were invented for a reason.) in my case that extra ingredient is sand, as I live on the southeast coast of the US. In dry weather itís no biggie, in the rain, it becomes a big biggie. And it will absolutely create excess wear to pads and rims. Donít believe me? Ride a pair of black anodised rims with rim brakes in the rain. Nothing you can do to avoid it in the moment, but when drying off your bike after the ride, do a quick wipe down of both the rims and the pads to remove any debris.
5. Check everything! Donít just focus on the obvious, like headsets and hubs. Check pedal bearings, freehub bearings, remove seat post and stem periodically (use framesaver in a steel frame). Remove and clean cassettes. Also remove tires and check for moisture on the inside of rims. Certain rim tapes (cotton tape like velox) can soak up and trap moisture and can corode nipples and eyelets.
6. This is especially important on older (like C&V) bikes: If you can replace chromed, galvanised or regular steel fixtures, like bolts, with stainless, do it. Stem bolts, chainring bolts, binder bolts, etc. Also, stainless cables and housings are always a good idea, as is a stainless or nickel plated chain.
7. Clean your chain, regularly. Seriously. And donít over-lubricate it. Use a lubrication designed for use in wet conditions, but use it sparingly.

this time of year, where I live sees a lot of rain. I install fenders, but my daily rider/commuter has loose ball track hubs, loose ball bb, loose ball pedals, cartridge bearing headset, a cartridge bearing freewheel, rim brakes and a leather saddle. I replaced my chainring bolts for stainless, I use stainless cables and housings and a stainless chain (connex). A 41 year old steel frame with chrome. no corrosion and no worries. Also, no need for a Ďbeaterí bike. Those type of bikes are for people who are too lazy to properly take care of what they own.

Last edited by seamuis; 11-22-18 at 07:08 AM.
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