If you are going to ride your bike through the winter months then you know snow salt, grime and sand are going to take their toll on your ride. There are lots of good guides online for how to maintain your bike, but we came across this article and really like the step by step approach. We’re sharing it for all of you to see. Thank you to Canadian Cycling! Check out their site and regular posts on all thing bike!
Keep your bike running through the winter
DEAN CAMPBELL FEBRUARY 3, 2015
Riding a bicycle in through snow, slush and road salt can take its toll on your bike. But, with a little extra preparation you can keep your bike rolling throughout the winter. You must be diligent with keeping your bike clean during the winter. Some people advocate cleaning after every ride, and it's a good idea to at least wipe off any snow, ice and salt kicked up while outside. There is very little that can be done to mitigate the need for cleaning, but there are ways to prepare the bike to handle a winter of riding.
Riding a bicycle in through snow, slush and road salt can take its toll on your bike. But, with a little extra preparation you can keep your bike rolling throughout the winter.
You must be diligent with keeping your bike clean during the winter. Some people advocate cleaning after every ride, and it’s a good idea to at least wipe off any snow, ice and salt kicked up while outside. There is very little that can be done to mitigate the need for cleaning, but there are ways to prepare the bike to handle a winter of riding.
Ice and snow will work their way into every part of your bike just as dust and road grime do during the rest of the year. Ice and snow melt and the water works deep into nooks and crannies before starting to rust and seize moving parts. Brush off as much loose snow, ice and salt as possible before bringing your bike inside. This step helps stay ahead of the melt, and keeps your place cleaner. Keep a soft brush by the door, and it will be there whenever you get home from your ride.
Lubricating any moving parts after cleaning, including derailleurs, chain and brakes. Hubs and bottom brackets may also need servicing, but less frequently. After each ride, it’s a good idea to check all seals for damage. If seals appear damaged, clean that portion of the bike frequently and with extra care, or consider heading to your local bike shop for the needed replacement parts.
Use a lubricant that lasts a long time and is made for foul weather – better to have to wipe off excess lubricant than to run out. To help save time and frustration during the winter months, get familiar with this process during the fall. You’ll have a better sense of what you’re looking for when the snow and slush arrive, and you won’t need to learn when your bike is at its messiest.
Equip your bike with fenders: the more coverage, the better. Aside from keeping you clean, these will also help keep winter slop from getting all over the bike.
Shift and brake cables do a good job at their respective roles, but seize quickly in foul conditions. Rather than having to deal with replacing cables frequently over the winter, run housing all the way from the lever to the brake or derailleur, skipping all the cable stops along the frame. Housing can be secured quickly and easily with electrical tape or cable ties (Beware, cable ties can get brittle in the cold, so keep extras in your repair kit.) This setup may cost you an extra $5 for all the housing, but you’ll save hours of frustration fixing seized cables. Also, be ware that the full-length housing will make your brakes a bit spongy.
Also, consider adding some extra seals to your headset, especially if you can’t bring yourself to add a fender. Take an old mountain bike tube (one that doesn’t hold air) and cut across the width of the tube so you’re left with two loops. Make them about two inches long. Now, remove the fork and put these two loops over each end of the open head tube. When you put the fork back on the frame, stretch the loops so they cover up the headset cups. Just remember that while this arrangement will make it harder for contaminants to get in, once they are inside, it will make it that much harder to get them out. You’ll still need to check and clean these parts of the bike.
Fit your bike with studded tires. It may seem hard to believe that a change of tires will make a big difference, but after you avoid your first crash, you’ll be glad you spent the money. City roads in the winter can be slippery, so equip your bike with the appropriate tires. Remember, studded tires may not be legal in all places. In Ontario, bikes are governed under the highway traffic act, and must abide by the same rules as cars – no studs in the southern portion of the province. However, having run studded tires for a few winters, I’ve never been pulled over or ticketed. To me, the safety is worth more than any potential ticket.
Finally, care for your frame, especially if it’s steel. Spray some WD-40 into any holes in the frame tubing and down the seat tube. “WD” stands for “water displacement,” so it will discourage any water from causing rust inside the frame. Do this a few times over the winter as well, to help maintain the level of protection. While WD-40 is not appropriate as a bike lube, the goal is to protect the inside of the frame rather than care for moving parts.
Keeping things clean and doing frequent maintenance will help your bike run smoothly all winter, helping you get off the trainer and out for some fresh air.