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  1. #1
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    Best thing to get road salt off bike

    I recently went on a ride that envolved getting on a bus to the destination, and the bikes where on a trailer. Both ways on the bus, my bike got covered in road grime/salt. What is the best thing to clean it with. I have been told that water will "activate" the salt. Two people on the ride with me suggested WD40.

    Is WD40 bad for paint? What do you all recommend?
    2011 Surly Necromancer/Black ops pugsley
    2006 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by e39-540i View Post
    I recently went on a ride that envolved getting on a bus to the destination, and the bikes where on a trailer. Both ways on the bus, my bike got covered in road grime/salt. What is the best thing to clean it with. I have been told that water will "activate" the salt. Two people on the ride with me suggested WD40.

    Is WD40 bad for paint? What do you all recommend?
    You need a bucket of nice hot soapy water, and a wash cloth or sponge

    Gently wipe all the stuff off with the wet rag... then a gently rinse withsome more warm water....

    Spraying WD-40 around the bike risks getting it in and on the seals....that can destroy those seals...

    As for activating the salt.....it is already activated.

  3. #3
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    Re: Best thing to get road salt off bike

    Water is merely a medium that accelerates the oxidization, it doesn't actually cause it, as jeffscott said.

    Warm soapy water, or any one of a number of "bike" or "car" specific (ie, low alkaline) washes will do. Even dusting it off with a rag is better than nothing.

    If you feel compelled to use an inhibitor (WD-40, Boeshield, et. al.) spray it on a rag first, then use that to wipe down the part. While they won't necessarily damage anything, if they get past seals, they absolutely will thin or break down the grease inside.

  4. #4
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    I had good luck using rubbing alcohol.

    Spray on rag, wipe on bike.

    there is no "activating" road salt. get it wet and it dissolves, separating into sodium and chloride ions. It will react either way, because it was already wet when it got on your bike in the first place.

    You might find a good frame polish to be helpful with keeping a barrier between your bike and the road salt. Obviously that doesn't work on moving parts, but that's one reason you use a good wet lube on the moving parts.

  5. #5
    jl
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    I cleaned fresh road tar off of my bike with WD40, no problems hurting the paint. I would actually try WD40 first and then clean as usual with some soap and water.
    Ride On!

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    Get a grip people.... wash the salt off with water.

  7. #7
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    Burn the bike. Start over.


    That said, WD40 will do a lot of things, but it won't hurt paint.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Get a grip people.... wash the salt off with water.
    considering that I don't have a hose or a tap in my basement, but I DO have a spray bottle of alcohol, I used what I had.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    considering that I don't have a hose or a tap in my basement, but I DO have a spray bottle of alcohol, I used what I had.

    what no sink and wet rag with a towel on the floot.....don't have an old ice cream bucket...geez

  10. #10
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    If you want to use a dry and less messy method:
    -Let bike dry, use a piece of cardboard or cheapo replacement trunk liner fabric to catch the ick.
    -Use a handful of Armour-All CLEANING wipes (not the "original polish ones) to clean everything (frame, chainrings, pulleys, derailleurs, etc). Walmart usually has a big tub of them.
    -Clean/lube chain, I like a lube with a solvent like ProGold because you can use it to clean it first (just wipe with with a rag and lube while spinning pedals).
    - Stand back and admire your work.
    Like any method, it's easier if you have a workstand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    what no sink and wet rag with a towel on the floot.....don't have an old ice cream bucket...geez
    The alcohol was already there. It was just easier to use.

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    I ended up just using warm soapy water, then just a wet rag to rinse, and it worked fine. I also replaced the rear derailleur cable, and cleaned/lubed the chain. Shifts like butter again.

    My black ops pug is now shiny black, instead of salty gray, and ready for a snowy commute to work tomorrow. :-)
    2011 Surly Necromancer/Black ops pugsley
    2006 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo

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    My bike also gets crusted with salt (that ultra sticky mag. cholride) and simply rinse won't do it. Need a bucket of soapy water and sponge. Pat dry and take out seat post to make sure any water inside dries out.

    I would hesitate using alcohol, as it may actually damage paint, unless you rinse it off with water, which kind of defeats the purpose of using it in the first place (as it's not necessary to use a harsh chemical to take off salt). Also, it could damage seals and dissolve grease in bearings. Maybe use it with care if that's all you've got. But I'd personally just get a damp rag if you don't have access to a bucket and a hose.

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    not sure how it would damage paint. it evaporates so quickly. sure, it breaks down grease, but actual degreaser does a much more efficient job of that. Like I said, apply it to a rag, wipe on bike, and it won't go anywhere near the places I want to keep grease.

    I know some bike shops that use alcohol on a daily basis around here, so I'm not the slightest bit concerned that it will damage the bike. Sometimes I walk in and it reminds me of the time I've spent in hospitals.

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    Well, the fact that alcohol can be used as a paint thinner should tell you something. But I'm not saying one dab and your bike is down to metal. Just saying that it COULD damage it. Just use caution (like you said). There's also clear coat, so probably not a big issue, but again, the best/much cheaper alternative is water.

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    just because something can be used as a thinner does not mean it is effective as a stripper. water is probably the most common base for paint. does that mean using water to clean my bike will damage the paint, too?

    isopropyl alcohol does not react to very much. I would counter that it is no more likely to hurt anything than water. probably less, because leaving your bike wet after washing it will encourage rust to form. alcohol evaporates quickly enough that rusting is just not a factor. this time of year, I can't just let my bike air dry because it's typically not warm and dry enough for that to happen. I live in a pretty humid climate anyway, so I have to take extra steps to make sure I get all the water off my bike after washing it. Usually requires me to leave it out in the sun for awhile. Not going to happen in the winter. Residual alcohol evaporates right off without extra steps, and I can leave the bike in the basement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Usually requires me to leave it out in the sun for awhile. Not going to happen in the winter.
    Or a dry rag... the time with a dry rag is a really good time to inspect the bike for a maintance or damgae issues.

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    Good points, Natehawk. I'll probably continue to use water/soap, as it's almost free and really dry here, but I could see using alcohol for some of the more stubborn grime/residue on the bike.

  19. #19
    jrm
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    PAM..i swear

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Or a dry rag... the time with a dry rag is a really good time to inspect the bike for a maintance or damgae issues.
    You just can't accept that the way I do it is also viable, can you?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    You just can't accept that the way I do it is also viable, can you?
    It is more costly and does not work as good the thread is called Best thing to get road salt off bike....

    And Alcohol is not it...

    IPA has very little solubility for salt...indeed to separate water from IPA add salt the IPA will separate and float on top of the salt water....

    If you really want to get salt off use water.

  22. #22
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    I tried using an IPA and my bike got all sticky. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale... felt so wasteful.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    I tried using an IPA and my bike got all sticky. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale... felt so wasteful.
    washing your bike with beer is so wasteful.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    washing your bike with beer is so wasteful.
    Depends on the beer. I had some skunky cheap shame to call it beer that I used for slug control in the garden. Not for internal use, if you know what is good for you.

  25. #25
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    I wonder how well it would get desalinated if left parked upside down in an area with high concentration of deer or cattle. Sounds kinda natural.
    Recalculating....

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