By Laurel-Lea Shannon
When it comes to bike maintenance, there are two kinds of cyclists—those intimately acquainted with their bikes, who lovingly wash, lubricate and maintain their trusty steed throughout the cycling season—and the rest of us: cyclists who could change a flat tire in a pinch, but mostly consult a bike mechanic when our bike doesn’t look, sound or feel right.
The first kind already know how to store their bikes for the winter. For the rest of us, I picked up some storage tips from Duncan Beard, a bike-fitter and mechanic at Fresh Air Experience in Ottawa.
Do you need to lubricate the cables or chain before storing the bike?
If you store your bike in an unheated garage, or outbuilding, then it’s a good idea to lubricate the cables and chain. But if your bike is snug for the winter months in a heated area then it isn’t necessary.
If you live in an apartment and store your bike on the balcony, make sure you lubricate the chain, turn the bike upside down and put a tarp over it to protect it from the elements.
Should the tires be inflated or deflated?
They should be inflated. They will deflate over the winter months. If you store your bike in an unheated garage you can take the tires off and bring them inside to a heated area. This will protect the rubber on the tires.
Should I hang the bike up?
You can hang your bike on a wall or ceiling, or just turn it upside down so there’s no weight on the tires.
Will direct sunlight harm the bike?
Don’t store your bike in direct sunlight. Unless your windows are new and UV protected, sunlight can dry and split the side walls of the tires.
Do steel-frame bikes need any special attention in the winter months?
If steel-frame bicycles are left in an unheated garage the metal can get cold enough for condensation to build up inside the tubing. This causes rusting. It’s best to store these bikes in a heated area, or pre-treat the steel frame with rust-proofing oil.
Keep It Simple
Duncan recommends keeping winter storage simple, “Bring your bike in for a tune-up at the end of the season rather than in the spring” he says, “ Then all you have to do is turn your bike upside down in a warm place for the winter.” Next March, when you’re ready to ride outside, your bike is ready too. Just pump up the tires and go. Another bonus?you’ll avoid the spring tune-up queue, which at a popular bike store like Fresh Air Experience, can be very long.