One of our favorite means of transport is, of course, the bicycle. Through all kinds of weather, our steed of steel takes us from A to B… but are you taking good care of your bike? If you cycle a lot, something will regularly break or wear out. By taking good care of your bike and visiting your local bike shop every year for a service, you can largely prevent this. “Cleaning your bike, that’s what the rain does for you, right?” Well, a little, but not enough to keep your bike in good condition. So we’d like to give you some handy tips to help you clean your bike in no time and keep it riding for a long time to come.
If you are looking to save a bike that is already rusted, we ill talk about how you can use aluminum foil vinegar, rust cleaner and even baking soda to bring some life back to your bike! We will also detail how you can remove rust from the bike chain, which is a regular problem. Thankfully with these tips, a bicycle can be saved from rust (for the most part).
How does rust arise and what is it?
Water and oxygen together can cause rust. Rust gives a brown discoloration to a metal surface and affects the strength of the metal. If you have a rust discoloration on your bike, then it is important to deal with it quickly.
Once a rust spot has developed it can expand to an even larger area. Especially in humid periods and in the winter months when there is road salt on the roads, a rust spot can accelerate. Even a small scratch in the paintwork can expand into a rust spot
Rust on the bike
Without realizing it, parts of your bike can rust, maybe even from just leaving it outside for a bit. The chain guard, handlebars, seat post, and bell can be affected by fly rust. This kind of rust is caused by flies that fly against it. When you let them sit, rust develops.
To remove this rust quickly you use steel wool. This works very well. 90% of the rust spots you get away with this. If you want to be a bit more fanatical, use a steel brush. Make sure that you leave the chrome intact.
1. Aluminum foil and vinegar
Another great way to remove rust is to use vinegar. White vinegar is the very best. This is a bit more acidic than the other kinds of vinegar. Pour some of this liquid over the rusty parts and let it soak in for a while. Then rub a piece of aluminum foil over the rusty spots and you will see that the rust disappears.
2. Baking soda
Baking soda is a great cleaning agent for many household chores. However, it is also great to use to remove rust spots from your bike. Mix one part water with one part baking soda and make a nice paste. Add some lemon juice to it.
This works together even better against rust. Now spread the paste with a brush or sponge on the rusty spots and let it soak in for fifteen minutes.
Then treat the spots with a scouring pad and you will see that the rust disappears. Powerful sanding and after this treatment let the salt sit for another 10 minutes. Then use a microfiber cloth to remove the baking soda completely.
3. Chemical rust cleaner
You can always use a chemical cleaner for stubborn rust. However, these are always aggressive and bad for the environment. If you still plan to work with this agent, do so in the open air and not in an enclosed space. Put on safety goggles and put on gloves.
If you are on the hunt for some good chemical rust cleaner, this is some great stuff right here!
Rust prevention tip
Always store your bicycle in a dry place. Has it been exposed to a downpour or does your bike regularly stand in a place without a roof? Then dry it off before putting it in a dry shed. Drying is a way to treat your bike carefully and sparingly, and to enjoy it longer!
You should always wipe the bicycle after use and remove the mud. You can do this either with a bicycle brush or a bicycle towel. It is important that you change your chain regularly (because you really shouldn’t be riding with a rusty chain), at least every six months.
Check if there are rust spots on bolts, and if there are, spray them with silicon spray to prevent further development of the rust spot.
As long as you’re maintaining your bicycle well, it will serve you well for years to come!
Removing rust from the bicycle chain
If there is rust on the bicycle chain, this requires a different approach. It is best to use good chain oil for this. And that is a very precise job, not that you just randomly spray some oil on the chain.
How do you remove incipient rust from the bike chain?
- Pick a time when you can really take your time.
- Drip a little chain oil on each link of the bike chain.
- After each link, make a wiping motion with an old cloth.
- Do the above last two points with each link.
- Make sure the whole thing is not soaked with oil!
- Afterwards, go for a ride so that the oil is well distributed.
- The worst of the rust will disappear and the bike chain will move smoothly again.
Alternatively, since you have the chain off the bike to do this anyways, it might almost be easier to replace it, as the price on these really isn’t that bad!
Frequently Asked Questions
It is of course much better to ride a bicycle that’s completely rust free. However as long as the rust isn’t affecting the integrity of the bicycle you should be fine. That said, if there is rust on your chain, shifters, or other moving parts, you likely will find the bike a bit harder to ride and pedal. If your bike is so rusty, that things are starting to fall off, you probably should take a break.
You should probably grease your chain at least once a month, however it also is best practice to do a quick walk around on your bicycle every ride to make sure it is running into tip-top shape! Checking the chain regularly for the need for grease is perfect to do at that time.
This is also a good question, ask bicycle shops and they often will say once every six months. That’s an easy thing to remember! Obviously, there are certain things that should be serviced regularly however – such as your bicycle chain. Other items like brake pads will need to be checked and replaced more frequently (depending on use).
Rust is a bicycle owner’s worst nightmare. It is really not that hard to take care of and there are always alternatives so you can remove it. When rust spots do appear, treat them as quickly as possible and the bicycle will be as good as new again in no time!