So, Winter is solidly here, and one of three things happened- A: You put on your thermals and kept riding. B: You immediately tossed the bike on the trainer. Or C: A little bit of both! To keep you spinning those cranks until Spring arrives, here are a few useful hints!!
1: Clean your bike!
Road crews have been putting down ice melt, salt, and sand all over the areas roads this winter. While it’s great for melting the snow and ice, it can really do a number on your bike! Buckets are cheap at Home Depot or the auto parts store- Fill two buckets with warm water, and get cleaning! For soap, I recommend Muc-Off’s Nano Tech Cleaner(although any automotive car wash will work too). Some people say you can use Dish Soap, but I’m not a fan. Dish soap is designed to cut through grease- Think about your bearings!
Put the bike in a stand, and remove both wheels- Using a soft bristle brush and a sponge, make sure to get all that grime off of there. Once Dry, I also recommend a protectant on the finish- Like Muc-Off’s Bike Protect, or a spray detailer from the auto parts store. In a pinch, you can even use Pledge(Bonus is the lemon fresh scent!)
2: #1 applies to trainer bikes too!!
“But my bike sits on the trainer all winter, I don’t have to worry about that”- Wrong! Trainer miles are just as bad as riding outdoors when it comes to caring for your bike! Sweat, drink mix, etc., are constantly dripping onto your bike, with no wind to help blow it away. This stuff is extremely corrosive, and will do a number on your driveline, cables, and yes- the finish of your frame! In severe cases, I’ve seen corrosion under handlebar tape so bad that it’s eaten holes through the bar!
We’ve touched on washing your bike- let’s talk about your driveline. If you ride regularly, you should be cleaning your chain once a month. Because of the severe conditions in the winter, you should continue with that interval, even if your riding decreases. Use a biodegradable degreaser, like Muc-Off’s Bio Degreaser, and in the winter I recommend a Wet Lube. All tuneups I perform get Muc-Off’s C3 Ceramic Lube, unless something else is requested.
If your cables are showing rust, and you want to prolong their life a little, you can use a lube like Tri-flow to lubricate where the cables ride in the housings.
4: Pedals and Cleats
Don’t forget these when cleaning your gear! Grime and crud will work their way into the mechanisms, and before you know it, you’ll perform the “fall over standing still trick” on your next group ride when you can’t get your foot out! Again, a thin lube like Tri-flow will work fine here. Don’t forget- if your pedals are serviceable(hello speedplay), the bearings and spindles will need to be greased too!!
5: The Trainer.
Forgot about that one? Don’t worry, most people do! Trainers need periodic cleaning and maintenance too! While not as involved as cleaning your bike, there are a few things to keep an eye on. Over time, grime will build up on the roller- cleaning it will cut down on noise and wear. Lube the threaded rods on each side- Just a couple drops of chain lube is all your need. Finally, don’t forget to occasionally do a nut/bolt check of the unit! When used, a LOT of force is put through a trainer’s frame! Over time, play can develop at the joints.
So, there are 5 quick tips to help keep your equipment in good shape through the Winter! Don’t worry, Spring will be here soon :)