As much as we may not want to talk about it, unfortunately we are approaching the time of year where our best summer bikes need to be put away and our winter bikes come out. The roads are getting wetter and group rides require mudguards. The beautifully clean dry waxed chains that have kept your bike almost maintenance free all summer need to be replaced with some heavy wet lube. It is a sad moment putting away your favourite pride and joy, but your winter tractor needs its time to shine.
However, it’s important to give your best bike one final clean and then you can store it away for the winter with full confidence that when you come to it next year nothing will have seized up or rusted. So here is my guide on how to prepare your best bike for winter storage.
Wash your bike
The first step is to wash your bike properly with soapy water and a sponge. Try to get the whole thing as clean as possible before going onto the more detailed cleaning and preparation later. I have always used fairy liquid and water to clean my bikes and I have had better success with them than specific bike cleaning substances. That’s not to say that they don’t work, I just find fairy liquid to do a good job. (Anyone that says fairy liquid will erode your bike my response is, do all your cooking pots have holes in the bottom?)
Strip your bike
Remove your chain and cassette and put them in a bowl of degreaser or white spirit to remove all the dirt. You want to make a real effort to remove all dirt as it will be even harder to remove in 6 months time. If you have a sonic cleaner then this is your best option.
Take off the crankset and give it a proper clean with your soapy water. If there are any difficult oily marks I find using some WD-40 can help loosen it.
Remove the stem and pull out the headset bearings. This is an area that can pick up a lot of dirt even if you only ride the bike in the driest of days. Take an old rag and wipe the inside of the headtube and the bearings clean.
Remove your pedals from the bike. If they are greased properly these shouldn't be an issue to stay on the bike throughout winter, but I think it is safer to take them off and keep them in storage until you get riding again.
My bike doesn’t require it, but also make sure to remove the seatpost and clean all the old paste off it. Remember to mark your saddle height with some electrical tape too!
With an almost bare frame, spray some WD-40 onto a cloth and wipe the frame clean. Not only does this remove any grime but it can offer as a useful frame protector.
Regrease and rebuild
With all your components as clean as possible it is now the most important step, greasing the components.
Wherever you are storing your bike it is going to be sat totally still for quite some time and you don’t want your components to seize up. You may also be storing it in your garage which may suffer from condensation and so keeping your bike rust free will be really important.
Use a good quality heavy duty grease and apply very liberally to your headset, crankset and any screws. I would generally lean towards having more grease than is necessary if it’s not going to be ridden as it will make getting it ready for riding next year easier.
Apply carbon paste to your seat post, again liberally, before placing it back in the frame. Ensure the seat post clamp is also greased and in good condition as this can be any area that easily seizes up.
Add the cassette back onto the wheel and ensure the hub is sufficiently greased as well. You could keep the cassette off, but I’ll let you make your own mind up on that.
Spray a little WD-40 to the springs on your derailleurs and also some lube to the jockey wheel bearings. Any moving part should be properly lubed and greased before storing.
What not to add back onto the bike
I wouldn’t add the chain back on the bike and instead keep this stored away in a small bag. Although if you are keeping your bike in a dry place then it shouldn’t be an issue, but it is one less thing to worry about rusting.
As already mentioned above, I wouldn’t add the pedals onto the bike. Again, it is one less thing to worry about seizing up on the bike.
Deflate the tyres a little to ensure they keep their shape but there is no need to keep them fully pumped up. It may be that you will add new tyres on it next summer, in which case remove them and keep the rims exposed.
Depending on where you are storing your bike will depend on how you should protect it. If it is inside on display, then leave it looking shiny and new for everyone to enjoy. However, for the majority of people keeping it in their garage or shed I would suggest putting a cloth over it. This will help to protect any direct water reaching it from condensation and also a build up of dust.
If you have a mechanical groupset set the front derailleur to be on the smaller chainring and the rear to be on the 11t (or maybe 10t if have a 12spd set up). This way the cables have all tension removed and will not stretch over winter.
Hopefully if you follow all of these steps your bike will be perfect for next year when you can get it back out. But if there is anything you would do differently then be sure to let me know!
Author: Samuel Wyatt-Haines (Team Avenir Athlete)
SWH is an athlete for HCI Digital, Avenir Cycling, Absolute Black, and Giant Twickenham - all views are his own.
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