Bart Haynes here in Sunny San Diego, here to talk about taking care of your bike in the off season as we wind down and approach fall. Many cyclists will not have the opportunity to ride regularly during the off season fall and winter months. By ride regularly, we are talking about:
- Not riding your bike at all, or
- Not riding your bike outside, but on a trainer instead
Depending on your situation, riding inside on a trainer may not be convenient either, in which case you will have to store your bike during the off season. Let’s look at things to do in the off season:
Taking care of your bike during off season while riding on trainer
If you are fortunate enough to be able to ride on a trainer during the off season, you will have to take some precautions that you don’t have to take while you ride outside.
One of the main problems about riding inside on a trainer is moisture. When you ride inside, your sweat is not being swept away and evaporated by the wind. It’s dropping directly on to your bike and then sitting there. To boot, it’s also full of salt, sugar, and other minerals, which are hard on your bike. ‘
- Your bike parts can rust
- Your paint can wear off
- Other parts may corrode
It’s important to wipe your bike down with a damp cloth after every workout when you ride on a trainer.
Maintenance to perform before off season
Performing maintenance before the off season is extremely important for protecting the longevity and performance of your bike. Also, good practices will allow you to hit the next season riding. If you don’t perform this maintenance, not only will your bike not last as long, but you will have to perform the maintenance anyway AND it will be harder because your bike will have been sitting and getting crusty for months.
This maintenance should be done REGARDLESS of whether or not you will be riding it on a trainer, but it’s especially important if you will be storing your bike all winter. Here are maintenance that you need to perform, be it yourself or paying your local bike shop, after the riding season is over:
- Remove the brakes, stem, front fork, crank, and bottom bracket
- Inspect each part of excessive ware or damage
- Clean each part, including your frame, with your favorite bike cleaner
- Replace warn/damaged parts
- Lube each part and put back together
Sure, it’s time consuming, or it means shelling out a couple hundred dollars to have it done. But you easily get your money back in the longevity and performance of your bike. After all, your change the oil in your car and detail it from time to time, right?
How to store your bike
The main concern with storing your bike is dust. Dust not only looks bad and is a pain to clean off thoroughly, but it can also undermine your hard-earned bike cleaning/maintenance because the dust can get into small, lubricated areas of your bike.
Here are some things you can do:
- Store it in a bike case
- Store it in a large trash bag (make sure there are holes so moisture doesn’t accumulate)
- Keep in a covered bike area
- Store in a moderately warm, dry environment
Don’t just hang it up in your garage. Come spring, it will be a mess
That’s it. There’s nothing fancy about preparing your bike for the off season. It’s common sense, but it’s something many cyclists don’t think about or plan for.
Do it when you haven’t ridden in a couple weeks and are sure you won’t be riding again all winter. It should only take 1-3 hours of your time to get it ready, depending on if you pay someone to perform maintenance or not.