Mistakes Cyclists Make When Storing Their Bike for Winter
Cyclists in colder climates often change their cycling patterns as winter sets in. Some move to a smart trainer, others starting going to a gym to cross train or take spin classes. Some might use a Peloton. Others might store their road bike and bring out the fat tire bike.
If you, like us, are in the camp of being not-quite-lucky-enough to cycle outside 12 months a year, there are some things to remember about storing your bike for winter.
Here are the 3 big mistakes we see cyclist make.
Improper Cleaning Before Storage
When it comes to storing a bike for winter, it’s important to clean it thoroughly before putting it away. Improper cleaning can lead to damage and corrosion, making it difficult to get back on the road when spring arrives. Think about the kind of riding you were doing this season, especially in the fall. Whether you were encountering dust, mud, or other debris, that stuff is likely all over your bike’s components.
Ignoring Dirt and Grime
One common mistake cyclists make is ignoring dirt and grime on their bike before storing it. This can lead to corrosion and damage to the bike’s components, especially if the bike is stored in a damp or humid environment. To avoid this, cyclists should take the time to clean their bike thoroughly before putting it away for the winter.
Another mistake cyclists make is overlooking rust on their bike. Rust can cause serious damage to a bike’s components, especially if it’s left untreated for an extended period of time. To prevent rust from forming, cyclists should check their bike for any signs of rust before storing it for the winter. If rust is found, any rust should be removed from the bike and treated before putting the bike away. To be extra sure, give the bike a quick lube before stowing it for the winter.
The goal is to store a perfectly clean and pristine bike.
Ignoring Mechanical Issues
Don’t store a bike that immediately needs to be fixed next spring! Be sure to address mechanical issues before putting it away. Ignoring mechanical issues can lead to bigger problems down the line and potentially cost more money to fix. Plus, there is a real good chance that, over winter, you will forget all about the mechanical problems, and will have to refresh your memory (the hard way) on what needs to be fixed.
Not Addressing Maintenance Issues
Regular maintenance is crucial for keeping a bike in good condition. Neglecting maintenance issues can result in a bike that is not safe to ride. Before storing a bike for winter, it’s important to address any maintenance issues, such as:
- Lubricating the bike chain
- Checking and adjusting brakes
- Checking and adjusting gears
- Ensuring cables and bearings are in good working order
Storing a Bike with Known Repairs Needed
It’s a mistake to store a bike with a known repair that is needed. It’s easy to forget about the repair over winter, and it can lead to bigger problems down the line. It’s best to address any needed repairs before storing the bike for winter.
Some of the more common “lingering” problems often include:
- Bottom bracket cleaning or replacement
- Disc brakes replacement
- Corroded bolts or screws
- Worn tires
The good news is that your local bike shop probably isn’t nearly as busy now as it will be in April or May. If you need repairs done and don’t have an extensive home bike shop, now is the time to bring it in!
Inappropriate Storage Methods
Cyclists often make the mistake of storing their bikes in ways that can damage them during the winter months. Here are some inappropriate storage methods to avoid:
Hanging Bikes Incorrectly
Hanging bikes by their wheels is a common storage method, but it can cause damage if done incorrectly. Hanging a bike by the front wheel puts too much stress on the rim and can cause it to warp over time. Hanging a bike by the rear wheel can cause damage to the derailleur or cassette. The best way to store a bike is by using a vertical bike rack that supports the frame.
If you need to hang a bike by the wheels, be sure the hanging hooks are coated with rubber or a soft material and have plenty of surface area.
Wedging the Bike Between Other Objects
Storing a bike by leaning it against a wall or wedging it between other objects can cause damage to the frame, especially if the bike falls over. The pressure from the weight of the bike can cause dents or scratches on the frame, which can weaken it over time. It is best to store bikes in a designated area where they won’t be knocked over.
It doesn’t take much weight, over the course of a couple months, to bend a spoke or wear-off your handlebar tape.
Too Much Humidity
Storing a bike in a damp or humid environment can cause rust to form on the frame, chain, and other metal components. This can create rust, and rust is always bad. If you happen to store your bike in a place that gets humid – or lots of condensation – consider having a dehumidifier in the room.
Tips on How to Store Your Bike Correctly
Storing a bike during winter can be tricky, but it’s important to do it correctly to keep your bike in good condition and avoid any damage. Here are some tips on how to store your bike correctly:
- Clean your bike before storing it. Dirt and grime can corrode metal parts and cause damage over time. Use a mild detergent and warm water to clean your bike, and use a sponge versus just a hose. Then dry it thoroughly.
- Avoid hazards when storing your bike. Keep your bike away from any sources of heat, such as radiators or heaters, as well as any areas that may be damp or prone to flooding. Make sure to store your bike in a dry, cool place. I once store my bikes right in front of where I parked my car in my garage. More than once, I pulled-in a little too far and had to hold my breath, hoping I had not done any damage to the bike.
- Use a bike cover to protect your bike from dust and debris. A bike cover can help prevent scratches and damage to your bike’s paint and finish, as well as keep it clean during storage. This is not a must-do, but more of a nice-to-have.
- Lube your bike’s moving parts before storing it. Applying a light coat of lubricant to your bike’s chain, gears, and other moving parts can help prevent rust and corrosion, as well as keep your bike running smoothly when you take it out of storage.
Jim is an accomplished triathlete and endurance cyclist, and has raced in more than 3 dozen USAT-certified races. He is also an avid trail runner and gravel bike rider.
His areas of expertise are in endurance training, cycling, triathlon technique, race direction, and training plans. In addition to writing extensively about the endurance world, he has managed gyms and fitness centers in the US. Jim is a longtime writer for Complete Tri, Compression Design, and his work can be found on the resource pages of many triathlon and cycling clubs in North America.