How to protect your bike from rust

Ah, the pesky stuff that seems to take over your bike the moment you’ve left it outside for just a day too long… we’ve all been plagued by it. But no longer does your bike have to suffer the ill fate of rusting, because we’ve gathered the best tips and tricks to help you protect your bike from rust.

What is rust?

First off, let’s get to the crux of the situation. We can’t beat rust if we don’t understand what it is and why it happens. In short, rust is a term used to refer to iron oxide. When iron or an iron-alloy such as steel (which is what most bikes are made of) is exposed to moisture and oxygen for prolonged periods of time, the oxygen and metal combine to form a compound called oxide. Even if you have an aluminium frame, smaller components such as gears, fasteners and cables are often still made from steel.

Those nights when your poor bike is left outside in the rain or standing in a puddle can help form the perfect conditions for oxide to manifest. The reddish-brown rust will start showing up on affected areas and will continue to spread until it is treated. This oxide compound weakens the bond of the metal and causes corrosion, eventually ending your bike’s lifespan when important components are damaged over time.

How to stop rust

Luckily, there are a few steps that can be taken to keep your bike alive and healthy.

  1. Invest in a storage solution

Rain, moisture and other outside elements can really harm your bike and cause significant rust build-up, especially if you live close to the ocean. If you don’t have space inside your home to store a bicycle, consider buying a strong tarp cover or, if your budget allows it, a small storage shed. This is a great solution that doesn’t have to cost a fortune and will keep your ride dry and safe, while using minimal outside space. Here are some more clever ways to store a bike.

If the bike doesn’t seem to be moisture-free under the tarp, consider putting a dehumidifier under the tarp to help control and remove any leftover moisture from the air.

  1. Keep your bike oiled

Chain lubes and rust-prevention sprays can be used to keep the various parts of your bicycle well lubricated and oiled. This will help prevent rust from occurring even if the bike is left outdoors. Take special care to lubricate areas prone to rust such as bolts, gears and bicycle spokes.If you’re not sure about what product to use, ask around or consult a bicycle repair centre the next time you take your bike in for a service.

  1. Form good bicycle care habits

If you have no choice but to leave your bike outside, take the time to establish good habits such as wiping your bike dry after riding and regularly applying lube to the chains to keep them running smoothly. Taking good care of your bicycle will help increase its lifespan, even when left outside. Need some tips for more good care habits? Check out this page.

Mudguards and fenders can be installed on your bike’s front and back wheels if you don’t have them yet. This will help keep extra moisture and mud away from the frame and moving parts.

Even when you aren’t using your bicycle (wintertime, anyone?) it is still necessary to clean the parts regularly and take it for a quick ride to keep the rust away. Rust grows even quicker on stationary objects and just one season outside could ruin the bicycle.Regular care will help keep your road companion in a running condition until springtime arrives.

  1. Relax

Rust is not ideal but the obsession to keep your bike rust-free certainly shouldn’t outweigh the pleasure of riding a bicycle. If small bits of rust appear on the non-functional frame areas of your bicycle, don’t panic! This will not immediately ruin your bike. Take some time to clean it over a weekend when you’re not busy, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy cycling and just remember to take good care of your bike.

What to do if your bike is already affected with rust

Existing rust can be removed so if you notice a spot where rust has begun spreading despite your best efforts to keep your bike dry, do the following to remove rust from affected areas:

  • Get a steel wool pad or a bit of sand paper. Scrape away the rust that has made a home on your bicycle.
  • If paint has been chipped away, use some touch-up paint or clear nail polish to paint over the area. This will help prevent further moisture build-up and oxidation.
  • Apply rust-resistant grease to exposed metal.

There are some other ways to remove rust too. If you don’t have a rust removal spray at hand or prefer not to use store bought chemicals, you can use some of the following homemade mixtures.A layer of white vinegar can help remove rust, as can a lime or lemon juice and salt mixture. Leave the juice and salt mixture on for an hour or two and scrub it off with an old toothbrush. Baking soda and water can also be used for the same method. Even coconut oil can be applied to the rust directly or mixed with lemon and baking soda to get out tough rust patches.

Got some rust on your clothes while cleaning your bike? Don’t stress it! Rub some lemon juice on the rust stain and rinse with water straight away – don’t let it sit, as this may make the stain permanent. Was the garment after using the lemon juice and if it doesn’t seem to be coming out, repeat the process with lemon juice and some added salt.