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Winter Bike Maintenance Basics
Whether you're riding for fun or continuing your daily commute to work by bike this winter, salt, sand, and lots of moisture results in more wear on your bike than at other times of the year. While maintaining your bike is important always, it's extra important in the winter with this extra wear and tear. Here are our suggestions of things you can do at home to keep your bike in tip-top shape through the cold months.
Washing Your Bike
Washing your bike is probably the most important thing you can do. While you might only wash your bike every few weeks the rest of the year, during the winter we recommend a more frequent schedule. How often and wear you ride are considerations here - if you commute daily on roads covered in sand and salt, you should wash your bike every few days.
To wash your bike, you'll need a water source. Since it’s winter, your hose is probably put away, and while you could take your bike to a car wash, you run the risk of having a frozen bike for the ride home. Instead, try using your bike water bottle - fill it up with lukewarm water and spray to rinse off your bike.
A bike wash product is well worth it to get the worst of the dirt off. When it comes to the chain, a citrus degreaser is our pick to cut the grease, so you can apply fresh lube.
For a truly sparkling clean bike, we recommend using some bike brushes for all the nooks and crannies. These brushes have special shapes to help you get around the chain and small parts of your bike, and will make your job much easier. Some other options are chain-specific scrubbers like the Park Tool, which runs your chain through the device to perform a deep clean.
Lubing Your Chain
Once your bike is washed, the next step is to apply oil and lube to your chain. In the winter, it is important to use a wet lube. Dry lube will wash off in winter conditions, whereas wet lube will stick to the chain. The brand of lube doesn’t matter too much as these products are interchangeable, so go ahead and use your favourite brand, or ask us in store for a recommendation. Muc-Off offers a -50 lube, which will keep its consistency in even the coldest temperatures.
Once you have applied lube to your chain, make sure to wipe off the excess using a rag. Having too much lube on your chain is almost as bad as not having lube at all. Don’t forget to wear a pair of mechanic’s gloves during this job to keep your hands clean!
Spot Target Corrosion-prone Areas
If you want to take your winter maintenance to the next level, you might consider keeping an eye on the grease and bearing points on your bike. A bike-specific poly lube is a great choice to keep the bottom bracket and headset greased, as it will withstand the wet conditions.
While you might not think of greasing the seatpost, keep in mind that a metal seatpost on a metal frame tends to corrode and bond, leaving them stuck together. If you have an aluminum seatpost and frame, choose a standard bike grease, and for a carbon frame or seatpost, use a fibre grip to prevent any corrosion or damage.
Keeping your bearings greased during the winter is also important, but this is a complex process. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, Wild Rock’s experienced service technicians are happy to help.
With winter riding, sand and water tend to accelerate wear on braking surfaces as well. Keeping an eye on brake pad life is an essential part of winter bike maintenance. If you have rim brakes, the brake pads have wear indicators on them, making it easy to check how close you are to wearing through the surface. If you have disc brakes, you'll have to take the wheel off to see the brake pad properly. Disc brake pads are 2-3mm thick to start, and when you see that you get down below 1mm of material, it’s time to replace them.
You should also keep an eye on the cables on your bike, and whether sand and grit is building up inside them. Applying a little bit of chain lube at the entry and exit points of your cables can help keep lube inside your housing and keep your bike shifting smoothly.
Indoor Cycling Maintenance
Even if you’re only riding your bike indoors on a trainer in the winter, you don’t get a pass on maintenance. The sweat you produce on a hard indoor training ride can cause corrosion on the bolts and metal parts of your bike. You can drape your ride in towels, or try Muc-Off’s sweat protectant spray. Muc-Off also makes an equipment cleaner that’s great for wiping the sweat off your bike post workout.
Above all, if you notice your bike not working as it should, things seizing up, anything with excessive play, or something you’re unsure about, bring it down to Wild Rock Outfitters and our experienced technicians can have a look at it.
Happy winter riding!
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