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Rust is the sworn enemy of any bicyclist. Not only does it put a kink in your riding style, but it also can seriously damage your frame and gears! Take the necessary steps to avoid dealing with rust when you have to keep your bike outside in the elements.
If you have no option other than outdoor bike storage, it’s imperative to know the answer to the question: how to store a bike outside without rusting it? Bike care in this sense isn’t about dealing with damage after it happens, it’s about staying one step ahead of the rust to avoid corrosion in the first place.
There are some sure-fire ways to avoid corrosion, and they’ll just take a little forethought on your part. Below are the highlights of avoiding rust from storing a bike outside:
- Protect your bike with shelter: if indoors aren’t an option, do the next best thing by providing the bike with some form of shelter.
- Bike maintenance: stay on top of bike care by keeping your cables lubed, bolts greased, and sealing any scratches you see in the paint.
- Wax your bike: an extra layer of water-repellant will do a lot to keep the moisture off.
Now that you’re aware of the basics, we’ll cover more details of each care point.
Protect your bike with shelter
Aside from storing your bike indoors, the second best thing you can do is to keep a form of shelter over your bike to protect it from the majority of the snow, rain, ice, etc.
If you don’t have a permanent outdoor shelter, like a carport, you can make do with one of the following options:
- Tarp: You could just toss it over your bike, but you’ll have a more efficient cover if you use bungees or rope to prop it over your bike.
- Bike cover: Custom or general, a bike cover will at least be able to accommodate the general shape of a bike.
- Small portable shed: Perhaps the priciest option in this section, opting to get a portable shed can also allow you to store other important tools undercover.
Care tip: don’t throw on a tarp or bike cover when your bike is wet. This will just enhance the corrosion chances.
Stay on top of bike maintenance
Just like you care for yourself by pedaling around to your favorite smoothie shops, you’ve also got to take care of your bike. It may seem sturdy now, but after only a week or so out in the wild, rust damage can become apparent.
Regular cleaning is a necessity and you must keep cables lubed and bolts greased. Apply grease to any seals at the articulating points on the frame. Clean off any visible dirt or debris and grease your chain regularly – maybe once a week.
Care tip: Notice any scratches in the paint? These can be entry points for rust to start working its evil magic! Be sure to act quickly with scratches or dings and seal them off before corrosion has a chance to set in.
Wax your bike
Do you know how UFC fighters grease their faces before a match? Pretend that your bike is a fighter and rust is a nasty left hook. A good coat of wax on the bike frame and seals will create a waterproof barrier against the elements.
Worth noting, there are some parts of the bike you don’t want to wax – see below!
A few tips for waxing your bike:
- Apply wax like this to the bike frame and joints
- Do not apply wax to the seat, handlebars, pedals, chain, or gears. And BRAKES. Don’t wax your brakes.
Care tip: You can use standard car wax or find something more specialized. Performing a bike wax once a month will do.
What can I do when I notice rust on my bike?
Don’t freak out, there is still time to recover: you might just need to apply a few dabs of oil to the rust spot. You can also use a small piece of tin foil to scratch it away. Another option still, is a wire brush, but this might damage your frame.
How can I get rid of larger rust spots?
To show rust who’s boss, mix equal parts baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice together. Apply to rust spots and let it sit for 20min. Brush off the mixture with a cloth and rub some wax onto the spot to seal it.
What bike frame materials are best for avoiding rust?
Aluminum and titanium frames are quite rust-resistant. Steel is the most common material for a bike frame, but also the most susceptible to rust. As long as it’s properly sealed and maintained, you’ll be able to avoid it.