Whether it’s to improve your health or reduce your carbon footprint, bicycling could be one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you already own a bicycle, then you know that it’s a considerable investment. It’s essential to learn the proper methods of care and storage to keep your bike in tip-top shape for years to come. You need to know how to store a bicycle outside, store during winter, and keep it from rusting.
Different Types of Storage Spaces for Your Bicycle
One of the biggest drawbacks of owning a bike is finding proper space to store. For some people, they have spacious garages or sheds, but not everyone has that luxury. If you’re looking for various ways to store your bikes, here are some of the options you should check out:
Putting a bike on a custom-made shelf is perfect for people who want to store their bikes inside their homes tastefully. A shelf allows you to hang the bike on the wall, making it a statement piece in your kitchen or living room.
Bike shelves come in various colors, sizes, and designs. Some shelves even let you store books and other items, like keys or wallets. You can choose a smaller and less obtrusive shelf for minimalists that only has enough room to store your bike. The drawback of bike shelves is that the handlebars and pedals often stick out, but if this is the only way you can store your bike, then it’s a compromise you have to make.
This storage option is one of the cheapest ways to store and protect your bike from outside elements. You can keep your bike outside without worrying about rain and snow. The only problem with covers is that it doesn’t come with a lock, so it isn’t protected from thieves. You can also use covers even if you store your bike inside the house or in the garage. This keeps your bike clean and free from dust and more.
If you’re worried that someone might steal or damage your bike, you can invest in locking storage. This is best for people who don’t have enough space to store their bikes inside their homes or garages. Rather than relying on a small bike lock and chain to keep thieves away, high-quality locking storage keeps your bike safe and protected from the elements, as well as from people with ill intentions. While safety and security are important for any bike, locking storage comes in handy if you have very expensive or custom-made bikes.
Storage stands look identical to the bike racks found in many parks and cities. It’s ideal for people who own multiple bikes, and you need to store them all at once. All you have to do is to wheel your bike into the stand, and it leans into position until you use it again. However, storage stands take up a lot of space. This might not work for people without enough floor space in their porches or garages.
If there’s a tent for camping, there’s also one for your bike. Tents keep your bike protected from rain and snow, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outside. However, this isn’t a permanent storage solution, unless you already store your bikes inside your home or garage. It comes in handy when you’re out hiking or camping. Bike tents have a pop-up frame and a thick, waterproof material that can stretch over its frame to keep your bike clean and dry. You can use bike tents to store your bike at home, as well as outdoors.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Storage for Your Bicycle
With several bike storage options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to choose one that fits your space. If you’re looking for ways to store your bike, here are a few factors you need to consider:
You can’t possibly choose storage without considering your space. Ideally, the best bike storage option depends on your available space, whether it’s your garage, porch, house, apartment, or storage shed.
Each option has different applications, but if you’re short on space, you can store your bikes vertically against the wall or hang it on your ceiling. As mentioned, shelves work well if you have enough wall space. If you mount your bike high enough or if your ceiling is high, a bike on the wall might not interfere with other living room décor. If you have more than one bike, taller vertical racks that lean against the wall or freestanding are other options. Most racks allow you to stack two bikes at a time.
For cyclists with larger houses, gear sheds, or garages, you can benefit from more elaborate options, such as locking sheds, bike tents, and storage stands.
Additionally, don’t forget to consider the clearance space you need to walk around the bike or open doors. You can choose mounts with brackets that fold flat against the wall, so it doesn’t stick out when it’s not in use. It’s a great way to save space in close quarters.
If you choose to mount a rack to your wall or hang it from the ceiling, take note of the weight of your bike, as well as the quality of your wall. Otherwise, your bike might be too heavy, and you’ll risk ruining your walls and harming the people living in the house.
If you’re a tenant, you may need to ask permission from your landlord. Some landlords don’t allow tenants to hang something on the ceiling or walls. If this is the case, you may need to look for other ways to store your bike.
Where will you store your bike? Will other people have access to it? Wall mounts, bike tents, lock storage, and racks, often come with a lock for added safety. This is especially important if you store your bike in a spot where it’s more vulnerable to theft.
Protect Walls and Floors
If you store your bikes in your living room area, you might want to consider storage options that offer some level of protection for your walls and floors. Bike dirt and grease can easily stain your floors and walls, especially in wet weather.
You can choose racks that come with small plastic housings to cover both wheels. Bike tents are another storage option that will keep your walls and floors clean from bike dirt.
It’s important to ensure that the storage option you choose can accommodate your bike’s wheels. If you want to store your bike in a floor stand, check if the wheels fit perfectly in the rack. It should be able to accommodate your tire width. The same goes for 29er wheel bikes. Whether you use a wall or floor racks, be sure to consider the size of your wheels before buying one.
There are two main types of material used in bike storage: metal and wood.
If durability is more important than aesthetics, a metal bike rack or storage is the better option. Storage options made out of metal are very durable and can withstand wear-and-tear without being damaged. However, the metal may look out of place if you’re going to display your bike in your home unless you have an industrial-themed house. In this case, the metal will fit perfectly with the rest of your interior.
Wooden bike storage is more aesthetically pleasing than its metal counterpart. If you’re placing it inside your home, your bike rack and your bike are going turn into a piece of art. Wooden bike storage options are typically handcrafted. This means that every piece is unique, and it will look beautiful in any home. However, it’s important to choose where you source your wooden storage. Only choose high-quality ones and make sure that it is durable enough so your bike won’t fall or tip with you mount it.
How to Prepare Your Bicycle for Storage for Winter
Nobody wants to go biking in freezing weather. As a result, many bicyclists make the mistake of leaving their bike outside during winter. Leaving your bike out for a few days isn’t a big deal. But after a week or two, you’ll start to see visible changes – the chains start to rust or colors begin to fade, especially if you live in a place with extreme weather. With that said, it’s important to prep your bike for long-term storage.
If you’re planning to store your bike throughout the winter season, you need to follow proper storage methods to extend its longevity.
Find a Storage Spot
The first step to storing your bike for the winter is finding a spot to store it. Whether it’s in your garage, basement, or living room, make sure that there’s enough room for your bike. If you’ve exhausted all options and you still can’t find a place to store your bicycle, there are bike shops that are willing to store it for you at a price.
Storing your bike for winter takes a lot of work. It’s tempting just to cover it with bike covers and let it sit outside, but this will only cause more problems when spring season comes. For instance, you may need more maintenance and repairs due to internal or external rusting.
Brush and Wipe Down the Frame
Spraying down the bike with a hose is another common mistake most bike owners make. Hosing it down can cause water to get into different parts of the bike, causing some metal components to rust. It’s better to wipe them down with a clean cloth.
You may wonder why it’s a huge no-no to spray water when most people ride bikes in the rain. When you’re hosing it down, the water can enter in from other angles. This means that moisture can get into areas that normally don’t get wet during bike rides in the rain.
Rain on your bike without proper care can also damage your bike. And even if you don’t hose your bike, you still need to clean it carefully before you store it. You can clean your bike’s wheels and frame using a soft-bristled brush. This is to remove any debris that got stuck in the crevices, like dried mud, grass, dust, and more.
Brush everything off as much as you can, and once you’ve gone over every nook and cranny, take a damp rag and wipe down your bike. Emphasis on wiping, not spraying. This will loosen the dirt and grime that can’t be removed by brushing.
Check the Frame for Problems Before Storing
Check your bike’s structural integrity while you brush and wipe your bike. Look for cracks, bent frame parts, or anything that looks suspicious to you. Pay close attention to the welded areas (the spot where the metal connects), as well as the bottom bracket. These areas undergo most of the stress when biking, so be sure to check these parts carefully. You wouldn’t want your bike to fall apart when you use it in springtime.
Tire Care and Maintenance
Tire care – cleaning, inflating, and inspecting – is the next step in preparing your bike for storage. Make sure to inflate your tires and see if everything is intact fully. Check for tire punctures, cuts in the sidewall, as well as the spokes on your wheels. Do any of them look broken or loose? Next, gently spin the wheel as you watch the spokes and wheel. Is the wheel wobbly? Is it spinning at an angle?
After the wheels, the next thing you need to do is to check if the brake pads are in good shape. It shouldn’t be rubbing up against the wheel; instead, it should be an angle away from the tires. The pads shouldn’t be loose. Change your brake pads if it already looks worn before storing it away for the winter.
Once everything looks good, brush your tires and give them a good wipe down to get rid of the debris stuck in between the cracks.
Clean and Lubricate the Drivetrain
The next step is where it all gets dirty and greasy. Cleaning the crank, cassette, and bike chain are the least glamorous parts of cleaning your bike, but it’s something that you shouldn’t overlook. After all, the drivetrain is what keeps your bike moving forward. By properly cleaning these three major parts, you can get rid of leftover debris, which can help keep your bike from rusting.
It’s time to change your chain if it already looks worn or if you’ve ridden it for two to three thousand miles. At this point, your chain begins to stretch, but this usually depends on the person riding the bike. It also depends on how often you clean your bike, how well you take care of it, as well as your riding patterns (recreational biking, mountain biking, road biking, etc.).
Some people continue to use their bikes, even with the chain stretched. But if your chain is worn, it will eventually affect the cassette. It will be harder for you to put on a new chain if this happens. At some point, you may need to replace both the chain and the cassette.
Inspect and Lubricate the Cables
You should also pay attention to the cables because they easily rust, too. You need to inspect the cable and look for frays and other potential issues to keep your bike rides safe.
If your cables are looking frayed, you can try to repair it, particularly if the frays are located at the end of the cable. If you’re unable to do so, you can bring your bike to a shop and have it repaired by a professional to avoid further damage.
If there aren’t any frays present, you can then lubricate the cables. Lubrication is important in preventing rust from forming ruining the cables. All you need to do is to add a bit of lubricant to a rag and rub it on the exposed cable part. Make sure the entire cable is lubricated.
Wipe and Clean Handgrips and Saddle or Replace If Necessary
This part contributes more to the aesthetics of your bike rather than functionality. While you’re inspecting and wiping down your bike, there’s no harm in cleaning the handgrips and saddle seat too. If your bike’s saddle seat or grips are worn, or you want to replace them, it’s best to do it before storing it away. In this way, you’ll have it ready to go when spring season comes.
Remove Batteries Before Storing Your Bicycle
It’s important to take the batteries out of flashers, lights, headlights, etc. to prevent leaks. If you can’t remove the battery, make sure that everything is fully charged before you store your bike.
Check the Bike Bags and Holders
Clear out and clean the panniers and trunk bags before you store them. The last thing you want is to find a moldy sandwich or half an energy bar from last year. Otherwise, you might get a visit from ants, mice, and other insects and critters. In addition, make sure to remove water bottles from your bike as well. Keep them tucked away in your cabinet until you ride your bike again.
How to Store Your Bicycle Outdoors
It’s perfectly fine if you need to leave your bike outside for a few days or lock it outdoors while you’re at work. But leaving your bike outdoors for more than a week will cause corrosion and damage to your bike’s components. Intense heat, snow, rain, and humidity are the most common reasons why your bike begins to degrade. If this keeps up, your bicycle will eventually become rusted and useless.
Wondering what would happen to your bike if you leave it outdoors for extended periods without protection? Here are some of the common problems you might encounter:
Steel Bike Frames
Generally, any frame material won’t do well with rain and moisture. However, rust can form quicker if you have a steel bike frame. Even if the outside appearance seems perfectly fine, the frame can start to rust on the inside, making it less safe to use.
Seals become less effective after years pass. If this happens, water and moisture will go inside your bikes. This will affect the bearings on your headset and wheel hubs, and other parts of your drivetrain, such as your rear derailleurs and shifters.
More often than not, the metal used on your bolts isn’t the same as the metal on other parts of your bike. But your bike’s stem and stem bolts are made out of the same metal. If the stem and bolts begin to corrode due to rain or moisture, it will seize up and get stuck, making it difficult to remove whenever you need to replace or remove a certain part.
If your steel cables are exposed outside the bike frame, water and moisture will oxidize them, affecting your shifting and braking and compromising your safety while riding.
For more expensive bikes, the stainless steel chains rust slower compared to lower-end bikes. If your finances allow, it’s best to invest in a high-quality bike early on.
Rubber and Plastic
Aside from the seals, rubber, and plastic parts are more prone to melt or break from extended exposure to sun and humidity. Cable housing is commonly the one affected by the heat of the sun. This can be a problem once the weather changes to cold and rainy. Additionally, the brake hoods, tires, and the rubber and plastic on the seats can easily deteriorate under extreme weather.
How to Properly Maintain Your Bicycle If You Store It Outside
While you can’t pinpoint exactly how long it takes for your bike to corrode, it largely depends on where you live. For instance, it may take a month for your components to rust or corrode if you live in rainy or humid climates. On the other hand, it can take several months if you live in milder climates, where moisture isn’t present all the time.
You don’t have to wait until your bike starts to corrode before you do something about it. It’s best to take as many precautions as possible to extend the life of your bicycle. Here are a few tips on properly maintaining your bike should you need to store it outdoors:
Invest in a Shed
If you have some space in your patio, you might want to consider investing in a shed to shield your bike from the element.
Use a Tarp
If building a shed isn’t possible, you can try using a tarp. You wouldn’t want to cover your bike in a tarp; otherwise, you’ll create pockets of moisture. Instead, you can create a roof on top of it to protect it from rain and heat. Once you have that installed, you can buy a waterproof bike cover for added protection.
Check Your Seals Regularly
It’s important to check the seals of your bike regularly, especially if you’ve been using it for more than five years or if it left exposed to the elements. Better yet, it makes more sense to get new seals for your bike. This helps keep the rain from getting inside the frame and other parts.
If you begin to see signs of rust, don’t delay and make sure to remove it as soon as possible to keep it from spreading to other parts. You can use WD-40 and other oils, or you can scrape the rust off with a thin sheet of tin foil.
Grease Cables and Bolts
Regularly greasing the cables and bolts delays and prevents corrosion, keeping your bike safe to use.
Consider an Indoor Bike Hanger
Indoor bike hangers allow you to store your bikes inside your home even if you live in a small apartment. You can hang your expensive bike on your walls instead of painting and pictures.
Invest in a Bike Tent
If you have a rack, a kickstand, or a floor stand, you can check out bike tents. These tents are usually compact (slightly bigger than your bike) and portable. This is a great option if you need storage both at home, at work, or out in the great outdoors. You can use bike tents anytime, anywhere.
Tips to Prevent Your Bike from Rusting
As mentioned, rust and corrosion can shorten the longevity of your bike. Here are some of the things you can do to protect your bike from rust and corrosion:
Protect Your New Ride by Installing Fenders and Frame Protection
When you’re biking, the tires throw dirt and rocks against the frame. Mud and grime will also get into the drivetrain and suspension. With fenders and frame protection, it reduces the impact your bike receives from the elements during a ride.
Fenders can effectively deflect dirt and mud away from the sensitive parts of your bike. On the other hand, frame protection can prevent rocks and other debris from hitting the frame. Otherwise, the debris can cause the paint to chip, and when bare metals are exposed to the elements, this can lead to rust.
Fenders and frame protection don’t cause a lot of money. It’s best to invest in these early on to reduce maintenance costs and extend your bike’s life.
Keep Your Bike Away from the Elements
Aside from rain, heat, and humidity, dirt and sweat can cause rust and corrosion if they stay on your bike for an extended period. Your sweat can cut through the clear coat of your frame, while dirt can damage your suspension and drive train. You should deep clean your bike at least once a month. If you ride in wet conditions, you may need to clean it more often.
Cleaning your bike protects it from rust and corrosion. It also allows you to inspect for signs of wear and tear. Don’t forget to wipe and dry your bike as thoroughly as possible. You can use compressed air to clean areas that are hard to reach.
Lubricate Your Bike
The best way to keep rust and corrosion from forming is to keep your bike lubricated. Lubricants keep your bike running smoothly, and it protects it from the elements. Regularly grease bushings and bearings and keep your chain lubricated if you want your bike to last a long time.
As you lubricate the parts, inspect it for signs of rust and corrosion. Additionally, always lubricate your chain every time you finish washing your bike. Your stanchions and shock seals should also be lubricated to prevent them from cracking.
Tune-Up Twice a Year
Tune-ups consist of disassembling your bike, cleaning the parts, and lubricating bushings, bearings, and drivetrain. Ideally, tune-ups should happen every six months to check for corrosion or rust signs and prevent irreparable damage.
You can do a tune-up yourself, or you can have it done by a trusted mechanic. Either way, make sure to check the inside of the frame and the rims. The alloy and brass nipples can corrode if water enters the rim tape. It can corrode even quicker if the chemicals in some tire sealants are exposed to the nipples.
Tune-ups take a lot of work, and if you decide to have it serviced, it can cost at least $100. However, it’s a part of being a responsible bike owner. Besides, tune-ups can prevent major damage to your bike. If you want your investment to last for years, don’t forget to schedule regular tune-ups every six months.
Biking is a fun hobby many people seem to enjoy. However, not a lot of people take the time to learn how to take care of their bikes properly.
As mentioned, bicycles are a considerable investment. They don’t come cheap at all. To preserve your investment and improve its longevity, it’s important to know how to store your bicycle outside, clean it, and maintain it. It’s a lot of work, but you’ll also enjoy having a well-maintained bicycle.
You can use the bike parking racks to store and safely lock your bicycle and cover it with a tent with a suitable size. It would allow you some confidence that your investment is safe and ready to serve you for the next season.