Winter Riding--Salt on the Road

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18 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

In previous years, I kept my bike indoors during the winter, but I have become sufficiently fanatical about biking that I feel I must ride despite the cold. The club lists plenty of winter rides and I'm ready and willing!

However, I am very concerned about the affect of salt on my new bike. I want to ride, but I also want to take care of my bike.

When you ride in the winter, what do you do about the salt? Do you wash your bike off every time you take it out in the winter? What do you recommend?

Anonymous's picture
john segal (not verified)

yes, you wash/lube just as you would after riding in the rain. fenders help.

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
How to wash?

>you wash/lube just as you would after riding in the rain
It is not possible now because I don't have an outdoor hose (other than the winter, I do have a hose). How do you wash the bike in the winter? Do you take it into the shower?

Anonymous's picture
Jonathan (not verified)

"""Do you take it into the shower?""

That's what I do in these conditions. I have one of those removeable hand held shower nozzles with a little hose (they cost $20). I just cleaned my bike in under 5 minutes after today's hogwich express. Messy riding to say the least.

Be sure to remove large debris first and always use low water pressure. I let it drip dry then lube."

Anonymous's picture
John Grandits (not verified)
hit the shower

i also reccomend the shower. i've done the past few winters and works well. roomates aren't crazy about it, but bikes need to be clean too. as jonathan said, use low pressure, let drip dry, and lube. also, you may want to put some leather conditioner on your saddle because this may dry it out and cause it to crack

Anonymous's picture
Cat (not verified)

Careful you don't scratch the glaze on a brand new tub, as i recently did.

Is it ok to use higher water pressure on the really dirty bits, like the rear derailleur and cassette and the brakes?

Which are the parts you absolutely don't want to get washed out?

Thanks for any advice. Also. . . .a good tub cleaner?!

Anonymous's picture
Fixer (not verified)
Bad idea

Your trap will fill with silt and clog your drain.

Wet rags are cheap and plentiful.

Anonymous's picture
Neile Weissman (not verified)

"Amen to all the above.

You could also make friends with your super, garage or outdoor fruit/veggie/flower grocer to borrow a garden hose.

If nothing else, fill up you water bottles and squirt off the big chunks before bringing it into the house.

If you have a steel frame, make sure it's ""Frame Saver-ed"" at least once per year.

J.P. Weigle Frame Saver:"

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
"What is ""Frame Saver""?"

">If you have a steel frame, make sure it's ""Frame Saver-ed"" at least once per year.

What is ""Frame Saver""-ing?"

Anonymous's picture
Cat (not verified)

I hear BoeShield T-9 is a good alternative and more environmentally friendly. I just used it inside my steel frame. It makes a good chain lube too.

Anonymous's picture
Christian (not verified)

JP Weigle framesaver. It's a anti-rust preventative that can be sprayed inside your (steel) frametubes. You can also use Boeshield T-9 or boiled linseed oil, but JPW is the creme-de-la-creme. I used it on my Rambouillet, and I might give the Peg a spray too. One can is good for about 3-4 bikes.

All that said, my great grandfather had a 1936 Rex that's still in the family. There's no rust inside the tubes, and the bike predates framesaver by 50 years, so there's really no reason to panic about this stuff...

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
Let's put this into perspective

Regarding rust and salt..

Has anyone seen a frame rust through? I haven't and that includes the most neglected and abandend bikes that are chained up year round outside.

Likewise, how about detrimental effects of road salt? We all know how bad it is for cars. It eats away at them in the nooks-n-crannies, areas that never see the light of day. I can't say I've ever had a problem or experienced others that had salt related problems with their car's exterior body work or bicycles.

Thankfully, it'll take alot of neglect, to the point of consciously and intentionally doing so before your bike becomes trashed or even remotely looks like such.

Anonymous's picture
chris o (not verified)
I like this perspective

I commute several miles every day and it seems a little onerous to be washing my bike every day.

I have heard the suggestion (perhaps here) that wiping the chain after a ride in the wet salty conditions is a minimal way to be ready for the next day. I am not sure if this is true, but it sounds good.

Anonymous's picture
Nathan Smith (not verified)

Be warned!!!

Washing your bike in the shower leaves one heck of a mess. I only did that once and regreted it big time.

Anonymous's picture
art (not verified)
Get a bucket

of soapy water, a few sponges, a couple of rags. Lay out a few layers of newpaper under your bike. Use a few sponges and have a go. It works great. Leave bike to dry, and then lube. When you're done, just wrap up the newspaper and throw it out.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)

How about a sponge bath for your bike in your tub. Or take a bath with your bike (SO). Or if you too tired to get the salt off your bike, make sure to put some fresh ground pepper on the bike to slow the corrosion.

Anonymous's picture
Cat (not verified)

I find that throwing a couple of Idaho potatoes into the tub draws out much of the salt.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
If you're worried about your floor

Get a large plastic tarp. has a 6'x8' for $1.99 and an 8'x10' for $3.99.

I'd use the shower.

Anonymous's picture
Doug Kalb (not verified)
NY Apartment Dweller's Alternatives

I’ve opted for a large, SOFT bristle brush to clean the bike from much of the dried salt & dirt, even before the bike is brought inside. Once inside, I’ll put my bike over plastic & absorbent paper & wipe it down with a gentle cleaner &/or water.
As for the chain & drivetrain, wiping it with a rag only forces salt, dirt & contaminants deeper into the chain; I prefer to use a chain cleaner & brush, to remove the bad stuff. If you use a citrus cleaner, use water & mild liquid dishsoap after since citrus will wear away at many metal surfaces.
I was given a free sample of a chain cleaner called Purple Extreme, which was originally developed to use in salt water conditions such as offshore oil rigs. When I read the description of the lube at , I was skeptical but tried it during our recent snow & melt down – after riding last Saturday, Sunday & yesterday, my bike was filthy but the chain & drivetrain are perfect & didn’t even require cleaning or more lube! The manufacturer suggests AT LEAST 400+ miles between lubes & the web site has a pdf file on bike cleaning which I downloaded & have found very useful.
This file stresses not mixing different lubes; even a new chain has some grease which needs to be removed.
In the past, I’ve used T9, which is OK but gets dirty immediately & White Lightning Raceday/Epic which cakes up, like candle wax. After my 3 rides in wet/salt/dirt, my chain with this Purple Extreme was cleaner than my other bike which has not been ridden since cleaning & applying White Lightning. Also, while the after ride bike cleaning sounds quite time consuming, the entire process took me less than 10 minutes since I didn’t have to clean or re-lube my chain. Now I’m going to try this stuff on my Speedplay cleats, too.
I live on the east side & have seen free samples at Bicycles Plus on 79th & 3rd as well as Bicycle Heaven on 62nd St. between 1st & 2nd Avenues.
My strongest suggestion on a dirty chain is NOT to start with a rag; instead, start with brushes to dislodge dirt. Using a rag first will do precisely what you don’t want – push the salt & dirt between the rollers, pins & plates. This all becomes more critical as 10 speed components mean narrower chains/cogs, tighter tolerances & spacing.

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