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Winter Bike Procedures

Winter in Ohio usually means most of us will not use our bikes for awhile, or likely use them sparingly. The storage or lay away procedures are really much the same as you should have been doing during the peak riding season. If you were a bad bike daddy or mommy, let’s see what can be done at the end of the season. 

Clean your machine. Avoid spraying water directly into bearings. A gentle spray especially around the hubs and bottom bracket should be enough to rinse off any cleaning agent used. It is best not to use soap on the rims and brakes as this might compromise braking if you have rim brake pads. Rubbing alcohol works well on rims and brake pads. Here is a video that will demonstrate a thorough bike cleaning.


As you dry your bike check for problems. Flaking paint may just be cosmetic, or may indicate frame problems. Rim scoring may be due to imbedded debris in the brake pads - more about this later in the article. Tire cuts could harbor sharp road junk that can puncture the tube later. Loose or frayed handlebar tape is usually cosmetic but might compromise handling if it slips or comes loose during an emergency maneuver. This is a good time to address any concerns. 

After cleaning the bike, the chain should be cleaned and lubricated and checked for wear. If you do not have a chain wear tool, borrow one or buy one. A worn chain will prematurely cause the cassette and chainwheel to wear out. Links should measure 1 inch center to center so a ruler can be used to gage the wear, but the tool is much easier and you will be more likely to use it. The best and easiest way to lube and clean the chain that has served me well for many years, is one drop of a quality bike light lube on each barrel. Rotate the crank several times and wipe off all excess. There is no need for lubricant on any outside areas as it will attract dirt and grit. There are specialized lubes for especially dirty or wet conditions, but I find the light lubes are designed to float out internal grit and dirt when wiped off. Here is a video showing you how to clean your chain. 

Check the head set for looseness by applying only the front brake then rock the bike back and forward. If the head set jiggles it needs tightening. Wheel bearings can be checked and adjusted but are more involved and probably should be left to your LBS (Local Bike Shop). 

Check the cables and housings for fraying or any deterioration. If you have noticed that it has been necessary to constantly adjust your derailleur, the cable may be fraying inside the shifter and needs to be replaced soon.

The tires should be inflated if the bike is stored on the floor as the tires can be compromised if left flat in the same position for a long time. Check the rims and brake pads for scoring or imbedded debris. If there is scoring of the rims there will probably be some grit stuck in the pad. Inspect the pads and dig out any material with a sharp tool. A straightened large safety pin will do if you do not have needle nosed tweezers which are a worthwhile tool to have on hand. This is a good time to check tires for excessive wear, side wall deterioration, cuts that might have puncture causing stuff hidden inside, etc. 

Hanging your bicycle may be an option and most sources feel that the wheels, seat, frame or handle bars can support the bicycle’s weight since each supports most of a rider’s weight. Just be sure that there is no chance that your frame might get scratched. 

Our last two videos discuss topics that are quite a bit more advanced than washing your bike or cleaning your chain. But if you are comfortable wrenching on your own bike, they might help you pick up a few tips and tricks.

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