Storing bikes over winter

How to store your valuable bike over winter? Here's how. Kind contribution of Chuck Nichols from Nichols Expeditions.

Taking good care of your bike shows it that you love it and it will return that love over and over, so let’s get started. The main goal for winter storage is to clean and check the bike before you store it in a heated place, if you live in a cold location with freezing temperatures. If you put your bike away clean and fully serviced, you will be ready to start riding as soon as the weather allows.

Most of this bike maintenance can be done by anyone who is handy with common bike tools. YouTube videos are helpful to show you how to do everything you need to do.

1. Clean the bike and inspect the frame for any damage. Touch-up paint any scratches, especially on carbon and steel bike frames.

2. Check the wheels for loose spokes and damaged to the rim. Make sure the wheels spin true with no side to side wobble. Wheel truing is not difficult, but if you are uncertain about how to do this, bring the wheels to a good bike shop for professional service.

3. Check the wheel hubs and make sure they spin freely with no friction that you can hear or feel. Each different brand of hub has a recommended service interval, so make sure you know what it is. Some hubs are easy to service yourself, and some will require special tools and professional service.

4. Check your tires for cuts and excessive wear on the tread and sidewalls. Some tires have small dimples on the riding surface to show when the tire is getting thin. Another way is to feel the curve of the tire from side to side. It should be a smooth round curve without a flat spot running down the middle. The best thing you can do is to replace BOTH the tires and tubes, and start out on fresh rubber next year. Remember, your safety rides on your tires.

5. IMPORTANT: If you use a liquid sealant in the tire, make sure to store your tires with the valve stem in the up position to avoid letting the sealant plug up the valve.

6. Clean your chain of dirt and old lube and checked for stretching. Chain stretch is easily measured; there should be 12 links in 12” (imperial inches) with not more than 1/8” stretch. Measure 12” from pin center to pin center along a straight section of the chain. A worn stretched chain will damage the teeth on the chain rings and the cassette, and this can be very expensive . IMPORTANT: If you ride a lot, replace your chain each year.

7. Check your shift and brake cables and all of the cable housing for damage and replace if needed. With hydraulic brakes, check for fluid leaks. Bleeding the hydraulic fluid every 6 months is recommended.

8. Check your brakes. FOR RIM BRAKES, make sure there is a good amount of rubber on the brake shoes and clean the brake surface on the wheel with isopropyl alcohol. FOR DISC BRAKES, check and replace worn brake pads, and clean the disc rotor with isopropyl alcohol. Tighten the bolts that hold on the discs to the hub. IMPORTANT: Keep the disc braking surface clean and do not touch with your fingers.

9. For electric bikes, the battery needs to stay warm and not freeze. If you can remove the battery from the bike, bring it inside. If the battery is internal, you should store your bike in a heated place that will not freeze. Make sure you have a 50-80% charge in the battery. They do not need to be fully charged.

10. Check all the bolts on the bike and make sure they are properly tightened.

11. Check your bike seat and handlebar tape. Replace if needed.

Now you have a happy bike that knows you love it!

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