I’m sure everyone has thought this at one point in time while owning their bikes, “Can you leave your bike outside in the weather?”. I mean, it’s metal right, it should be fine! Well, maybe not quite so much unfortunately.
Leaving your bike outside in the weather can cause your bike to rust, get water in components that shouldn’t. The paint will fade, and even cause the plastics to fade as well. All of these really aren’t great things for your bike, and means you probably should not leave your bike out in the weather uncovered.
Can you leave your bike in the rain?
Alright, so bikes in general tend to be somewhat water tight, however if you leave them outside for more than a couple days, you likely will start to see some wear and tear on them, that otherwise may not have happened.
Rust starts to appear
This probably is the first thing you will notice! While bikes are mostly made of rust resistant materials like stainless steel, and aluminum, there are some components that won’t quite make it through as well.
For example bolts and screws on the bike are not as water resistant, and have a tendency to allow water to pool up in them.
This rust build up can make it difficult to unbolt items when needed, and can get damaged and not be able to be removed.
Water in components
Like we mentioned, bikes are somewhat water resistant, however as I discussed in this article about why bikes may need fenders, you’ll find that you don’t want to get water in different components like gear sets, or anywhere that is greased.
Water is not a great lubricant, and can cause things to fail prematurely, costing you time, and money.
Can you leave your bike in the sun?
Ahh yes, the other extreme weather! You probably didn’t know that just leaving it out in nice weather can also damage your bike.
Fading of paint
This is the first thing you will see when leaving your bike out in the sun. Bike paint, just like on cars, can fade over time, leaving your investment just not looking as nice as it once did!
Of course you can make sure to clean the paint (like you always should be), and buff and polish it to take out these issues, but it’s best to find a way to store your bike out of the sun.
Plastics become brittle
This is the worst part of leaving your bike in the sun.
There are quite a few components on bikes, especially in the more budget range that are made of plastic.
Over time, plastic becomes brittle when left out in the sun.
Brittle = Damage
So let’s just try to keep that bike out of the sun.
What can lengthen out the time before you see damage?
So you have to leave your bike outside, and are wondering how you might be able to slow down the progress of damage to your bike. Let’s see how we can help you out there!
Quality of materials
Bikes in general are going to deteriorate less if they have higher quality materials, such as stainless steel instead of standard steel.
Maintain the bike
Most people, and I mean, most people don’t think about the maintenance needed for keeping their bike in great condition.
Buying some grease, and greasing up the parts that need it is going to keep your bike from deteriorating quickly!
It’s good for general use, and great for if you need to store your bike outside.
Another great way to allow your bike to be outside for longer, is to cover it up! A great way is to cover it with just a general tarp.
We will actually talk a little more in depth about this a little lower in the article, so stay tuned on that!
One of the components that will wear out quickly, and also is just a pain, is when rain sits on a seat.
While they are somewhat water resistant by nature, your seat can begin to crack and face over time.
Many people will tie a plastic bag around it to keep that water off, and this is a great solution for a low-to-no cost!
Alternatively, a great seat cover that is water resistant will further keep your seat from damage.
How long until you will see damage?
How long it takes to see damage from rain or sun can range by quite a few things! However for the most part you will want to find a more permanent placing for your bike within a couple days to a week of parking your bike.
How can I cover my bike outside?
Buy a Tarp
This by far is the cheapest, and easiest way to keep a bike in great condition while outside!
All you have to do is buy a decent sized tarp, drape it over, and then attach a bungee cord around the bottom so it doesn’t fly off.
There of course are also some great options out there built specific for bikes!
While these tend to be more expensive than just a tarp, it does look nicer, and is going to be really easy to store your bike in.
Build a structure
Finally, if you just can’t get past how temporary the options above look, then you can always build an enclosed structure!
There are quite a few options out there from Home Depot, Walmart and other retailers that will work well.
I hope this article helped you understand if you can leave your bike outside in the weather!
There are quite a few different ways to keep your bike in great condition without having to bring it inside, however that obviously will be the best way of fixing the issue.
My main recommendation would probably be to get yourself a dedicated bike cover and stay up on your maintenance, and call it good if bringing your bike inside is just not an option!