Storing Your Bike Over Winter
If you’re looking at putting your bike away over the winter months, it is well worth spending an hour on your bike now so it’s still in good working order when you next want to ride. If you do nothing else, DO NOT leave your bike outside as rain will work its way through any amount of grease and lubricant and rust and seize moving parts very quickly.
Washing your bike
If you have a bike stand, great! If not, do not turn the bike upside down or else you are washing all the dirt and grime into the handle bars and the moving parts of your brake levers and gear shifters. A good bio-degradable bike cleaner will be perfect to clean the frame and wheels, though more attention will be needed around the drive train where grease and lubricants really pick up the dirt.Don’t use a pressure washer to clean your bike as water will get into moving parts and wash away the grease that’s protecting bearings. Good old fashioned elbow grease with a sponge or brush is needed here. When washing your bike take the time to check the frame for any cracks or metal fatigue. Also check that your wheels aren’t moving from side to side and they are spinning freely and that all your spokes are nice and tight.
Gears and chain
Get yourself a good degreaser as this will make light work of thick greasy dirt on your chain and rear and front mechanisms. My preferred weapon of choice for this area is a tooth brush as it gets into all the ‘nooks and crannies’. You can buy a chain scrubber which is a reservoir that clamps onto your chain with an assortment of brushes inside which will do the same job. Once all the grime is cleaned off, rinse well to ensure all the degreaser is off and dry with a lint free rag. After cleaning it is important to lubricate the chain and moving parts of the mechanisms with specific bike lubricate. You can use oil, but this is easily washed off in the rain. If you are not sure where to put the lubricant on the mechanisms gently move them with your hand and any part that moves needs a small drop of lubricant. With the chain, slowly turn the pedals backwards putting droplets of lubricant on the links of the chain then wipe of any excess. Again using a lint free rag.
On the rear mechanism there are two black cogs, one above the other, called jockey wheels which the chain runs over. These very quickly accumulate a thick layer of dirt. Use a flat bladed screw driver to scrape the worst of the dirt off before cleaning with degreaser.
Once the worst is off I tend to pour degreaser onto a rag and pinch the part of the jockey wheel not being covered by the chain and slowly turn. Be careful as you don’t want to catch your finger tips between the jockey wheel and chain. Again rinse well and wipe with a lint free rag.
Cassette / Freewheel
Dirt and grime will have built up between the cogs that make up your cassette or freewheel that is attached to your back wheel. If you use your bike ‘off road’ you may even find that grass has wrapped itself around the cassette between the cogs.
I’d suggest buying a specific bike tool for this job as it makes life a lot easier for only a few pounds. Slide the tool between each cog as far as it will go and gently rotate the cassette clearing all the muck out.
Lubricating gear and brake cables
The cables running from your gear shifters and brake levers to the mechanisms and brake calipers have a metal wire running through them. With time the wires start to stick inside the outer cable causing brakes to stick and gears not to work properly. Change gear so the chain is on the outside cog at the back and the inside cog at the front. With your hand push the rear mechanism towards the wheel and pull the front mechanism away from the bike. This will cause the cables to go loose and you can unclip the cable from the frame. Squeezing your brakes together with your hands, not the lever, will have the same affect. Once unclipped pull off the end cap exposing the end of the outer cable. Place a few drops of lubricant onto a lint free rag and pinch the inner wire where it comes out of the outer cable and slide the outer cable up and down the wire to get the lubricant inside the outer cable. Do this on all cables and reverse this process to put the cables back into place.
Pedals and seat post
Unprotected metal will rust and seize together and your pedals and seat post are no exception. Take out the seat post, clean as far down inside the frame as possible with a rag, wipe the seat post clean and smear with grease before putting back in. A good tip is to run a piece of electrical tape around the seat post where is comes out the of the frame before removing. This way you know how far to put it back in. Remove your pedals and clean the thread on the pedal and also the thread inside the crank arms.
Place grease on the thread of the pedal and put back in. Remember pedals undo by turning towards the back of the bike and do up by turning towards the front of the bike. This is for both pedals.
Inflate your tyres to the recommended PSI. This will be written on the side of the tyre. Leaving your bike for any length of time with flat tyres will deteriorate the side walls of tyres causing them to crack, meaning a new set of tyres come the spring.