Tips for Storing Your Bike for Winter

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By Erica Tingey — For many mountain bikers, winter has arrived. While some four-season-climate dwellers extend their riding season with frequent trips to warmer biomes, others take a break for a few months (absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all). If you fall in the latter category, we highly suggest taking a half hour to prep your bike for storage — you and your bike will thank us in the spring! Here is a checklist to ensure that your bike hibernates peacefully: 

Clean your bike.

Remove dirt from the frame and components with soft-bristle bike brushes. Wipe off finer dust with a rag or an old T-shirt. If your bike is muddy, spray it down with a hose using low pressure. Don’t spray directly into any screws or joints. You can use a mild cleanser (like dish soap) to get grease off your frame. Use a degreasing solvent with a brush and/or a chain cleaner to remove grease from your drive train. Rinse. 

Dry your bike.

In order to prevent rust, be sure your bicycle and all components are thoroughly dry before storing it! 

Lube your chain. 

A lubed chain will also help protect against rust. 

Shift into your smallest gear. 

This will ensure that the chain and derailleur are relaxed. (Notice when your bike is in the biggest chain ring in the back that the chain and derailleur are “working”. If you store it like that, you run the risk of stretching your chain which will require you to replace it sooner than necessary. 

Before storing your bike for winter, check your tire pressure then check it periodically to prevent rim damage. Note that this is a commuter bike, so the pressure is much higher than on an MTB. Photo by Dave Iltis

Check your tire pressure.

Inflate to recommended pressure to keep the tire on the bead. Especially if you will be storing your bike on its wheels (i.e. not hanging), check periodically to make sure the tires are still inflated to avoid rim damage. 

Give your bike a checkup.

Look for damage to the frame and components — now is a great time to take your bike to the shop for repairs since they usually aren’t as busy and can hopefully give your bike a little extra TLC.

ALWAYS store your bike with the dropper post in the UP position. 

This will place less tension on the spring or hydraulic system, and extend the life of your dropper. (Psst … while we’re on the subject … never lift or hang your bike by the saddle unless the dropper is in the maximally raised position.

[Editor's note: some mechanics don't recommend hanging your bike by the saddle at all if you have a dropper post, preferring systems that allow you to hang your bike by the top tube if possible.]

Hang correctly. 

If you are hanging by only one wheel, hang your bike by the rear wheel. Hanging the bike from the front wheel can put too much torque on the front fork.

Set a calendar notification for a month before spring riding begins. 

Take your bike in for a tune-up before the spring rush! (We’ll try to remind you as well). Give your bike a loving pat and thank it for all the joy it sparked this year! 

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Some good reminders, but don’t fret no matter the gear you store your bike in. The chain tension from the deraileur with your bike shifted into the largest gears will most definitely not risk stretching your bike chain even if left there for a lifetime. It may put some unnecessary tension on the deraileur springs, but even that is a stretch (pun intended).

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