Winter is on its way, and at the London Cyclist we do realise that not everybody wants to ride through November, December and January. If you do, it might not be on your ‘favourite’ bike, so here are some tips for storing your steed until it’s ready to come out of hibernation.
Clean the bike
Firstly, give it a complete clean – ensuring you use degreaser on around the chain, cassette, bottom bracket and other areas that have accumulated dirt. In an ideal world, you would remove the chain and cassette and leave them to soak before replacing, but this isn’t essential.
When you’ve finished cleaning and potentially replaced the chain, apply a little lube – but make sure everything is dry first – any moisture you leave will lead to corrosion.
Finally, spray some WD40 onto a rag and wipe it over exposed metal components – the derallieur, exposed bolts and the like. WD40 displaces water, so will prevent any rust forming. However – do make sure you don’t get any on the brakes or braking surfaces.
Check the cables
Retrieving your bike come Spring will be much more enjoyable if the cables are in good working order – so if they need replacing, now is certainly a good time. You’ll be able to tell if the cables have had their day – they will have become slack (even if you adjust them), may have become frayed or in a worst case scenario, the cable threads could be unraveling.
If the cables are well, check that the gear cables are indexed, and that the gears shift cleanly, and that the brake cables have enough tension, but not too much – pulling the levers should bring the bike to a stop, but the brake pads should never drag.
Once you’re happy with the cables, apply as little lube around the housing (the bit where the arrow below points to), so they slide easily.
Check for any moisture
Wet rides can have some unpleasant side affects for your bike – and sometimes water can become trapped inside the frame. This isn’t all that common, but it did happen to my winter-mule bike during last years floods.
To check this isn’t the case, remove the saddle, and tip the bike upside down. If you’ve got mounts for panniers, remove the bolts as well – if there is any water in this should get it out (and you can use the extra weight of carrying it around as an excuse for any recent slow rides.)
Remove and grease
Whilst the saddle is removed, you may as well use the opportunity. Saddles and pedals can seize if you don’t remove and grease them from time to time.
Remove both, apply a little grease to the seat post and the pedal spindles, and replace them – this limits the likelihood if you taking your bike out in a few months time to find nothing budges.
Really Important Point: If you’ve got a carbon seat post, do not apply grease – use carbon paste – grease will not have the desired effect.
Where to store the bike
My bikes live in my house, all year – but it’s not a luxury everyone has, and between myself and my husband it means we lose our spare room to ‘bike room’.
If you can’t keep your bike inside, make sure it is somewhere dry. A stone garage (with a secure door, and ideally locked via an anchor) is a good place, provided there isn’t any damp in there.
Steel bike containers are one option, but they have been known to be susceptible to condensation, so if you go for this option you will probably need to check on the bike regularly, give it a wipe, and make sure its ‘winter home’ is safe and dry.
A wooden shed, unless fairly new, leak proof and with surface treatment to prevent future leaks, isn’t ideal.
If you share your home with children, or pesky housemates, make sure the bikes isn’t easy to knock over, an accidental whack in December that is unnoticed until March could become a hassle.
When you come back to the bike
Eventually, spring will come. You’re either getting a bike out for the first time in months, or swapping your ‘winter steed’ for your summer baby.
Though you made every effort to put the bike away in good condition, make sure you give it a once over. Run through the gears, check the brakes function as they should, and ensure no rust has formed.
A little orange glow on the chain isn’t the end of the world, provided you scrub it off, dry the chain and lube it in the early stages.
And finally, enjoy your ride – hopefully it wont be the first exericise in months.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.