Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Winter Cycling
Reload this Page >

How to prevent derailleurs from freezing

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.

How to prevent derailleurs from freezing

Reply

Old 12-03-10, 04:08 PM
  #1  
Chalupa102
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Chalupa102's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Monson, MA
Posts: 485

Bikes: Catrike Trail Recumbent trike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
How to prevent derailleurs from freezing

This morning I had both derailleurs freeze up at 28F/-2C. I was able to at least shift down on the RD. Luckly I was on my trike, so to shift up I was able to reach back and move the derailleur with my hand after I shifted up on the shifter mechanism. About 2/3 into my commute, it started to shift by itself without me having to reach back there, but it was sluggish. Towards the end of the commute it completely un-froze. Unfortunately the FD was frozen solid the entire commute and I couldn't shift it up or down.

I spent all morning Tuesday lubing the cables and derailleurs with a no-name grease. It did rain pretty heavy most the day Wednesday, but I figured the grease should have prevented the rain from getting in the cables and freezing. Apparently the grease I used either was bad, I used to much, or didn't use enough.

I can kind of understand the FD freezing up completely, but what I don't get is why I could still kinda shift the RD.

What suggestions do you guys have (and please don't say to get a SS/FG because there are way too many hills around here)? Also what do you use to prevent your cables from freezing?
Chalupa102 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-10, 07:41 PM
  #2  
Wilbur Bud
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fishers Indiana
Posts: 382

Bikes: Longbikes Slipstream

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15 Post(s)
I do what you did, clean all the cables, but I don't re-grease because it seems to freeze too. After a winter rain I may try to wash out the cable housings with alcohol to try and draw out the water before purging the housings and re-inserting the cables. If you feel you have to have a lubricant in there, then maybe powder graphite after blowing them out, but my vote is for nothing. My freeze ups are generally always the cables in housings.
__________________
Longbikes Slipstream
Wilbur Bud is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-10, 07:51 PM
  #3  
Sixty Fiver
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,274

Bikes: See my sig...

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
The home brew I use on my chain is also excellent for cable housings... it dispels water and provides weather proof lubrication and protection.

Recipe:

In the winter I mix up one part semi synthetic oil with three parts mineral spirits.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-10, 10:12 PM
  #4  
skijor
on by
 
skijor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 936

Bikes: Waterford RS-33, Salsa Vaya, Bacchetta Giro 20 ATT

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 430 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
The home brew I use on my chain is also excellent for cable housings... it dispels water and provides weather proof lubrication and protection.

Recipe:

In the winter I mix up one part semi synthetic oil with three parts mineral spirits.
Any particular reason for semi-syn vs full? I'll be trying the homebrew this winter too as I've had the same problem.
skijor is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-10, 10:29 PM
  #5  
Sixty Fiver
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,274

Bikes: See my sig...

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
Semi synthetic works as well in the cold and costs much much less.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-10, 10:40 PM
  #6  
skijor
on by
 
skijor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 936

Bikes: Waterford RS-33, Salsa Vaya, Bacchetta Giro 20 ATT

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 430 Post(s)
Ok thanks Sixty!
skijor is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-10, 09:32 AM
  #7  
AEO
Senior Member
 
AEO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: A Coffin Called Earth. or Toronto, ON
Posts: 12,258

Bikes: Bianchi, Miyata, Dahon, Rossin

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
grease and lube shouldn't freeze in -2c, but generally speaking, thicker will freeze before the diluted grease or lube.
__________________
Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm
AEO is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-10, 12:25 PM
  #8  
irclean
Born Again Pagan
 
irclean's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Southwestern Ontario
Posts: 2,241

Bikes: Schwinn hybrid, Raleigh MTB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I put some drops of chain lube in my cable housings, hold the bike in a vertical position, and then shift (or squeeze if it's a brake cable) to help it work its way through. This is a lot easier if you have a bike stand. I also put lithium grease on exposed cables, and spray the dérailleurs and cassette with silicon spray like this stuff from Permatex:

http://www.permatex.com/products/aut..._Lubricant.htm

As requested, I won't mention SS/FG, but I will mention IGH: After commuting through the winter and getting sick and tired of the drivetrain maintenance that it entails, I decided I wanted to switch to an internally geared hub, preferably with belt drive. I now have an Alfine/belt drive setup on my bike and so far it has worked flawlessly for my winter commute. Best of all, the only maintenance it has needed since the temperature has dropped is a simple barrel adjustment.
irclean is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-10, 11:33 PM
  #9  
Chalupa102
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Chalupa102's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Monson, MA
Posts: 485

Bikes: Catrike Trail Recumbent trike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
For Sixty Fiver and others; do you lube the cables once before the season, or is it something you do weekly?
Chalupa102 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-10, 11:44 PM
  #10  
Sixty Fiver
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,274

Bikes: See my sig...

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
It is a once a season kind of thing for me... my winter bikes have very little exposed cable so they are less prone to water contamination and my primary winter bike has an internal gear hub so there's no derailleur to worry about.

Bike 2 has an old Suntour derailleur and Suntour friction shifters and this has been very reliable in temperatures that have gone below -40 C... the derailleur on my hybrid does not like the cold nearly as much but it is an indexed system which is a little more finicky.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-05-10, 09:09 PM
  #11  
Chalupa102
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Chalupa102's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Monson, MA
Posts: 485

Bikes: Catrike Trail Recumbent trike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Awesome, thank you very much.
Chalupa102 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-05-10, 09:24 PM
  #12  
AEO
Senior Member
 
AEO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: A Coffin Called Earth. or Toronto, ON
Posts: 12,258

Bikes: Bianchi, Miyata, Dahon, Rossin

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
it's not too hard to lube the cables up either, if they do get fouled with water.

simply disconnect the cables and rub WD-40 on it with a rag, especially the spots where it goes into the housings.
If you really want to clean out the housings thoroughly, shoot some WD-40 into it. And since you've probably taken out the cables entirely, grease up the cables with chain lube or marine grade grease before rethreading them into the housing.
__________________
Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm
AEO is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-10, 02:41 PM
  #13  
andrelam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 1,035

Bikes: Gerry Fisher Nirvana, LeMond Buenos Aires

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
To some degree you can't prevent this 100%. I only have this happen a few times per season. Definitely make sure the lines are lubricated liberally. If the unit gets wet enough and then re-freezes there is nothing you can do other than to get the bike defrost in a warm plae and wait for all the moisture to evaporate. I've had this happen mostly when riding through some seriously wet thick sloppy snow. The rear derailler gets so incrusted with wet snow that nearly nothing can prevent some moisture from getting in the lines. Like I stated however with proper maintenance this is a fairly rare occurrance.

Happy riding,
André
andrelam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-10, 05:41 PM
  #14  
Fynn
Senior Member
 
Fynn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 230
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
In my 8 winters of riding I have NEVER had a "derailleur freeze." So I guess my answer is I do nothing.
Fynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-10, 08:17 PM
  #15  
skijor
on by
 
skijor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 936

Bikes: Waterford RS-33, Salsa Vaya, Bacchetta Giro 20 ATT

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 430 Post(s)
^Spin bikes don't have derailleurs.
skijor is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-18, 07:09 PM
  #16  
Hatchet
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 224
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 79 Post(s)
I have had the same problem two different times this winter so far. Once was during an ice storm - it was raining at about 30 degrees. As I rode home, it got colder and the freezing rain and road spray slowly built up a layer of ice on the RD and for the last mile of my commute home I was running a single speed as the RD would not budge. Overnight in our semi-heater garage the ice build up on the RD had melted and the RD was fine the next day.

Another time, we had heavy, wet, sticky snow at about 20 degrees. Over the course of my 4.5 mile commute to work, the snow stuck to the RD and it became increasingly more difficult to shift. Over the course of the work day, the temp increased and the RD was fine.

I had the idea of keeping a small can of WD-40 or small bottle of isopropyl alcohol in my panniers and when the RD starts to freeze, give it a little squirt to free up the RD.
Hatchet is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-18, 07:15 PM
  #17  
bobwysiwyg 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: 42.2808° N, 83.7430° W (A2 😉)
Posts: 1,225

Bikes: Mongoose Selous gravel/adventure/whatever bike

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 389 Post(s)
Originally Posted by skijor View Post
^Spin bikes don't have derailleurs.
Bikes on trainers don't either. But then you're bored to tears like me.
__________________
"Skepticism is the first step in critical thinking." -- Me
bobwysiwyg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-18, 09:02 PM
  #18  
HerrKaLeun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 866

Bikes: Giant Toughroad SLR1 and Motobecane Sturgis NX

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 459 Post(s)
I'd say use a full length housing to limit water-entry. I hate these cables where part of the cable is exposed on top tube etc.... all entry points for water and dirt.
I out some marine grease in the cable at the shifter to "seal" it. Also make sure the barrel adjuster is oriented with the opening down.
HerrKaLeun is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-18, 09:11 PM
  #19  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 5,536

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 68 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1090 Post(s)
The solution for guys as unimaginative as me is really easy. Keep that bike inside and ride a proper winter bike. With a fix gear. One that will ride just fine in any ice conditions (and will still work and get you home after you lay it down on the derailleur side).

Edit: I didn't see you were on a recumbent trike but I bet a fix gear could be used there also. Might be fun to ride!

Ben

Last edited by 79pmooney; 01-17-18 at 09:15 PM.
79pmooney is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-18, 08:25 AM
  #20  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 19,762

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2039 Post(s)
the year I commuted thru the winter, I started by keeping my bike outside overnight. w frozen precip, sand & salt getting used more, I started giving my bike's dirty parts a squirt of water from my water bottle, sometimes refilling it inside & squirting some more. great easy way to do minimal cleaning. except one morning, in complete darkness, 1 mile from home, at 17F, I tried to use my rear derailer, but no luck. I had 12 miles ahead of me & knew I would need it, so I had to disassemble, clean out the ice from inside the housing in the rear & reassemble. was simple & easy but those conditions were horrendous for un-gloved work & in the dark! ugh! at work I was able to park it inside the loading dock over cardboard to drip dry. that night, I started storing the bike in my basement, every night
rumrunn6 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-18, 08:45 AM
  #21  
John Nolan 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 362

Bikes: Marinoni Touring, 95; Raleigh Classic 15, 84; Long Haul Trucker, 2013; 70-something Garlattii; Univega Alpina 505, 95, Miyata 610, 86; Miyata Ridge Runner SE, 85; Miyata Triple Cross, 89; GT Karakoram, 90

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 38 Post(s)
I seldom have anything actually freeze on my bike, and I keep it in an unheated garage all winter. A couple of weeks ago temps were at ~25 C (-13 F), and my derailleur was working a lot better than my fingers.

I flow lots of oil around the drivertain at the beginning of the season, and whenever I think to lube my chain.
John Nolan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-18, 09:21 PM
  #22  
fixedweasel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 237
Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 87 Post(s)
I've been commuting year round here in Chicago (26/round trip) for over 15 years. My bike even sits outside for over 13 hours a day and I have never had a derailleur freeze up on me yet.*














*albeit i do ride fixed
fixedweasel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-20-18, 07:18 PM
  #23  
jfowler85
Senior Member
 
jfowler85's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Zinj
Posts: 1,839

Bikes: '93 911 Turbo 3.6

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 109 Post(s)
The carbon road bike with 105 regularly sees 0f and below, never had an issue with the drivetrain freezing. Hub pawls, on the other hand, froze up in such temps with regularity for the first 5000 or so.
jfowler85 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-18, 02:13 PM
  #24  
Viich
Hack
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 593

Bikes: 88 Bianchi Strada, 90's Giant Innova winter bike with drop bars, DeVinci CX monocoque, Cannondale F-400

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 129 Post(s)
I get issues as slush and snow build up, especially on the front derailleur. I've never had an issue in dry cold. I use bar end shifters - might be able to put more force on the cable than integrated or trigger shifters.
Viich is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-18, 02:16 PM
  #25  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 19,762

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2039 Post(s)
dry is important but clean is too. was having issues w my rear last ride, so before the next one I cleaned & lubed it all & that helped, but I think more cleaning is in order, plus the whole length of cable. might have to dis-assemble cable & housing to do it properly tho

Last edited by rumrunn6; 01-23-18 at 10:29 AM.
rumrunn6 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Terms of Service