Semi-daily maintenance for winter commuting?
I ride to work, or around town, every day up here in Maine. Depending on conditions I ride either a Pugsley or a Big Dummy. There is a great deal of salt on the roads, as well as sand. I have disc brakes and fenders on both, an Alfine 8 internal hub, and a single crank ring up front on the Pugs, and a triple crank up front plus 9 speed in back on the BD. I need to add some mud flaps in order to cut the crud down even further on both.
Both bikes comes home covered with a layer of ice, snow, sand, salt and whatever else happens to be on the road. My garage is unheated and separate from the house, so I have no outside access to a hose. As a result I try to wipe down the bikes as best I can with a rag, but until the spring thaw comes they won't get a hosing down. I'm feeling quite guilty about the way I leave them each night, but can't figure out a better system.
I've thought about buying a couple of cheap paint brushes and use one to clean off parts as best as possible, and maybe brush some oil on moving parts with another. Any tips or ideas for keeping the bikes as clean as possible given my conditions?
Thanks in advance!
Hi rsobak, I used to be over in Harrison, ME, in VT now. I like a can of silicone spray from the auto aisle for deraileurs and brake pivots, the spray forces off some grit & also lubes. For the chain I like a thin lube & rag. I like Progold, it doesn't last as long as some, not good if you want to lube it & forget it, but it attracts a lot less gunk. A little alcohol on a paper towel cleans up the disc rotors nicely. The frames are probably OK if the paint is in good shape...if there are chips I would clean those areas and use some touch up paint. A bucket bath with hot water and a little car or dishsoap and a rag will clean it up without making a big mess,(I don't bother to rinse) but since you don't have heat, be careful not to get it on parts that could freeze up.
Before all the galvanized steel and special coatings, when Vegas, Fiats, and Hondas rusted through in five years or less (Renaults? less than 3), warm garages every night were shown to speed the process. So storing the bike cold helps slow corrosion. To get the hanging chunks and fender wells full of snow/ice/sand off we would plan to attend an event where you could park in a heated garage as needed. This is analogue to bike drivetrain ice & crud. With newspapers or old towels doing soak up duties, maybe a two-hour thaw out might be possible inside before return to the cold garage, and a light oiling, if needed? If in an apartment, can you take them to the laundry room for a brief cleanup?
Add to your spring cleaning list the removal and regreasing of the seat post. Grease here prevents a water entry point, though fenders reduce the risk markedly. Freeing up a frozen seat post in a steel frame can be an expensive chore.
My Pugsley comes inside on the weekends and thaws out. Usually in a workstand over some old towels to catch the gunk that falls off. Then it gets a thorough wipe down and chain lube. Rotors are cleaned with alcohol. Then it goes back to the cold garage, where it waits to be ridden again. If the brakes start making bad noises before the weekend I'll do a quick rotor cleaning to prevent premature wear on the pads/rotors.
Geez I got a higher end FS MTB with 27 gears.....
Once a week rinse in hot soapy water, and store inside works great.
The enemy is not so much salt as grit that comes with the salt and sand....hence the rince once a week.
If you let the salt build up though you will end up with parts frozen togeather at the end of the winter.
Store inside or outside, you need about a gallon of hot soapy water about once a week.
Granted Seattle is mostly just rain, with the very occasional snow event that freaks out the whole city, but...
I really only worry about my drivetrain. I wipe the chain down after every ride with a rag I leave on the rack where I keep my bikes. It takes less than a minute. Now and then I do the rims on my commuter, which has rim brakes, and if it got particularly wet or I'm starting to hear a squeak I'll relube the chain.
A thorough cleaning now and then is not a bad idea, of course, and your cables are likely to get pretty messed up if they're exposed. But cables are cheap, and chain rings are not. Not sure about the cogs for Alfine hubs - they seem like they shouldn't be too much, but maybe a little more than a singlespeed cog because they're less common?
Since road salt is part of the equation, a little extra paranoia about your bearings when the spring rolls around and the roads are clean again would not be out of line.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
I vaguely remember an old post where someone mentioned using spray on motorcycle chrome protector to protect everything from salt?
Oil, lots of oil.
Screw cleaning it... time is money and it don't go no faster when it's shiny.
Don't bother with cleaning until spring. My advice is that once or twice a year you clean everything and make sure the frame has paint on all scratches. Use boeshield in all the vent holes and inside the tubes where you can. Make sure you have plenty of lube on the moving bits and replace stuff that wears out.
You might consider keeping an some extra chain and using it in rotation. Mid week I often swap out my chains so that I have one that is clean on the bike and usually another one is in the soak tank. On the weekends I make sure both chains are clean and mount the longer of the two chains. For me this has extended the life of my drive train.
I am also a fan of hydro brakes because they are sealed from the dirt and work well in all weather. For gears, I really like nokon sealed cable housing. The sealed cables keep the bike shifting better.