How to Store Your Bike for Winter

Kayla Henry Kaden AmbassadorAuthored by 2021 Kaden Ambassador Kayla Henry


If you are anything like me you like to jump from one thing to the next. Seasons change quickly in Vermont and it’s easy to forget about your bike and grab your snowboard as soon as the first snowflakes fly. Your first turns of the season will help you forget all about how muddy your last bike ride was. Inevitably spring rolls around and your desire for biking is pounding and you're ready for a ride, but you pull your bike and notice, you could have done things a little better last fall. It creaks, it squeaks, and it's way too dirty to show up at the trailhead for your first ride of the year. You decide to take it to your local bike shop and bam, they have a 2+ week wait for repairs and tuneups. Don’t let that happen!

Here are some tips for properly putting your bike away for the winter so that you can jump right back on it on the first nice spring day without all the waiting and guilt.

Cleaning your bike and looking for mechanical issues in the fall will prolong the life of its moving parts and save you time in the spring when everyone is heading to the shop to get it fixed up for that first nice day of riding. You don’t need to be a bike wizard to give your bike a proper clean and lube before sending it to the depths of your basement for winter.

 

Bike Maintenance

What you need to clean your bike:

Before you begin, make sure you have all the supplies you need. Here’s a list of the items you can use to get your bike in storage shape. All of these items can be purchased for a relatively small amount of money at your local hardware store or bike shop. Don’t forget to shop locally!
  • Set of Allen keys or multi tool
  • Cleaning brush (even an old toothbrush works!)
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small pick or screwdriver
  • Degreaser (use a bike specific one if possible. A citrus degreaser from the hardware store is okay too, but you may want to dilute it a little)
  • Cleaner (simple green is great, or a bike specific one from Muc-Off, Pedros, Finish line, etc.)
  • Chain lube
Cleaning products

Where to start with cleaning your bike:

If your bike is REALLY muddy you can start with the hose, but don’t put it away wet. Be sure to dry your bike off with a dry rag.

Clean the dirtiest parts first:

  • Start by using the brush (or toothbrush) to scrub excess grime from your cassette, tires and frame.
  • Spray degreaser into a rag and wipe the chain down thoroughly. I like to spray it into the rag first so you don’t risk spraying excess onto the brake rotors, I am always messy.
  • Use the pick or screwdriver to get the gunk off of the derailleur pulleys and cassette.
  • After degreasing the chain, drip on the chain lube and wipe off all the excess with an old rag. This will prevent the chain from rusting over the winter.

Next use the cleaner on the rest of the bike:

  • You can spray just about everything but your brakes and then dry it with a rag. You can spray the cleaner directly on the frame and wheels.

 Bike Maintenance

Inspecting your bike:

Once your bike is all clean and wiped down, give it a quick inspection to see if anything should be looked at by a bike shop if you are not comfortable fixing things yourself like me.

  • Does anything feel loose if you wiggle the wheels from side to side?
  • Are the front and rear axles tight?
  • Does it shift smoothly when you pedal it around?
  • Do the brakes sound like they are rubbing when you spin the wheels?
  • Does it squeak while braking or compressing the bike’s suspension?

If you find anything that seems like it isn’t right, the fall/winter season is a great time to go to a bike shop for advice or a tuneup. Most are not as busy as they are in the spring/summer season and there are often deals and incentives to take advantage of.

 

Bike Maintenance

 

Storing your bike for winter:

When your bike is all cleaned up and everything seems to be in great working order don’t forget to store it in a dry place that has no hazards of dripping water or excess moisture. You spent hard-earned money on that bike, treat it how it deserves to be treated!

Now that you know how to properly put away and store your bike(s) for the winter, go do it! Seriously though, it's not too late and you’ll be glad you did it in the spring. Whenever you have a question don’t be afraid to reach out to your local bike shop. Park Tool also has a lot of great “how to” videos on their website that are a nice resource especially if you want to do it yourself. Now go and enjoy the snow!

Winter biking

Photos courtesy of Kayla Henry.

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