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Storing your bicycle for winter—A step-by-step guide to get your bike ready for winter storage

October 22, 2019

Unless you live in a year-round warm climate, there are apt to be months when your bike is out of commission. Rather than leave it parked where you last pedaled it to, take a little time to store it correctly. It won’t take long, and your bike will last so much longer!

Follow these steps:

1. Take off all extra equipment, such as electronic devices, water bottles, and baskets.

2. Wash the bike well, using a degreaser on the gears and chain and dishwashing liquid or a bike cleaner and warm water on the rest. Wash the frame, wheels, rims, etc. Rinse well and dry thoroughly with a dry cloth. It might be tempting to take your bike to the car wash, but don’t — a pressure washer is too strong. 

3. Check your bike for any damage—broken spokes, worn brake pads, etc. Make needed repairs or take the bike to a repair shop. 

4. Get it tuned up. Some people like to get their bikes tuned up in the springtime, when they’re ready to ride again. But you could also do it now, so it’ll be ready to go when you are. (It’s also a good way to avoid the rush for tune-ups in the bike shop later.)

5. Put air in the tires. (If you get that pre-storage tune-up, this will be done.) Check the sidewall of your tire for the right pressure—it should say how many pounds per square inch (PSI) the tires need. Without properly inflated tires, the weight of the bike can press down on the rubber and distort and damage the tires. This is especially important if you’re not going to hang the bike but instead leave it resting on the tires. Check throughout the winter to see if the tires have lost pressure, and reinflate them if necessary. 

6. Lubricate your bike’s chains and cables, to prevent corrosion and protect all the moving parts from wear. Don’t overdo: Use just a few drops of bike lubricant on a rag is plenty. (Something else that will be covered in that tune-up.)

7. Cover her up. A protective cover will keep dust and debris off your bike—important if you’re storing it in a garage or basement, but a nice add for inside the house, too (especially if you pick a fun cover). Covers work whether you’re storing your bike on the floor or hanging it on a rack. 

8. Hang it up if you can. If you store your bike in a place with a concrete floor—like a garage or basement, it’s best to hang it. That’s because the concrete floor can draw moisture from the tires and cause them to age. If you don’t hang it, place a rubber mat or a rug under the wheels. Of course, hanging the bike is a space-saver, too—especially indoors. 

There are lots of options for hanging a bike, from a simple, vinyl-coated J-shape hooks (simply hang the bike up by one wheel) to wall racks and suspension systems. There are also free-standing storage racks for in-home use. 

BTW, try to store your bike in a location where it won’t be subject to big temperature changes. Extreme changes in temperature can lead to condensation inside the frame and eventually rust it or even cause cracking of the frame. (This can also happen if you take your bike out for a spin in the cold and then bring it back indoors.)

Where does your bike spend the winter? What’s your favorite bike storage tip?

You might also like: 7 Ways to Make your Car Tires Last

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2 comments

  • Mary

    October 26, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    Oh, this reminds me of how much I neglect my bike when it comes to maintenance! I hate to admit that my bike spends most of the off-season dirty and unmoved. And if I’m totally honest, there are plenty of springs when I prepare for my first bike ride of the new season only to discover bike trail maps, last year’s sunscreen, and the occasion dollar bill or (previously) sweaty headband still floating around in my packs. Shame on me, and thanks for the tips.

    1. Karen Mary

      October 27, 2019 at 8:09 pm

      Haha! You’re not the only one, Mary! I guess one disadvantage to tidying up your bike at the end of the season is that you’ll have no fun surprises waiting for you in your packs come spring!

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