Leaving your bicycle outside in the weather may be necessary for many! Whether that be lack of storage, going on vacation with your cycle on top of you, or any other reason you might have to leave your bike outside for extended periods. This article is dedicated to those who need to know if this can damage your bicycle and how you can negate these concerns.
If you leave your bicycle outside in the weather (in the rain, snow, or sun) can cause your bike to rust, become waterlogged, fade the paint, and even cause the plastics to become brittle and break. Each of these things can cause your bicycle to no longer be reliable, or worse yet, cause you not to want to ride your bike anymore.
Two Downsides of Leaving Your Bicycle in the Rain
Bicycles are built by the factory to be water-resistant; however, if you leave them outside for more than a couple of days, you likely will see some wear and tear on them that otherwise may have yet to happen.
1. Bolts & screws start to rust.
This is the first thing you will notice! While bikes are mostly made of rust-resistant materials like stainless steel and aluminum, some components won’t make it through.
For example, bolts and screws are commonly made of standard steel on bikes and are not as water resistant and tend to allow water to pool up in them. This rust build-up can make it challenging to unbolt items when needed and can get damaged and not be able to be removed. A rust inhibitor spray can help with this a ton! Spray it on these rust-prone components.
2. Water in components causes friction.
Bikes are water-resistant. However, as I discussed in this article about why bikes may need fenders, you’ll find that you want to avoid getting water in different components like gear sets or anywhere that is greased.
Water is not a lubricant and can cause things to fail prematurely, as it washes away existing oils and causes friction where there shouldn’t be friction.
Two Reasons You Shouldn’t Leave Your Bicycle in the Sun
While you may think rain is the primary offender for damaging a bicycle left outside over time, the sun can damage it even more.
1. Fading of paint
This is the first thing you will see when leaving your bike in the sun. Bike paint, like on cars, can fade over time, leaving your investment not looking as great as it once did! Of course, you can clean the paint (like you always should) and buff and polish it to remove these issues, but it’s best to find a way to store your bike out of the sun.
2. 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. Let’s try to keep that bike out of the sun and under a cover.
What can lengthen the time before you see the damage?
So you have to leave your bike outside and are wondering how to slow down the progress of damage to your bike. Let’s see how we can help you out there!
1. Higher-end bicycles last longer.
While leaving a higher-end bicycle outside for extended periods seems like a waste of money, these higher-end components equipped on a high-end bike will be more resistant to damage from the constant changes in weather outside. Please don’t buy a high-end bike to leave it out.
2. Maintain the bike
Most people don’t consider the maintenance needed to keep their bikes in excellent condition. Buying some grease and greasing up the required parts will keep your bike from deteriorating quickly! It’s suitable for general use and great if you need to store your bike outside.
You should also make sure to take your bicycle in for a tune-up regularly so that you can catch more significant issues (like rust and damaged cables) before they become an issue. These issues become more prevalent the more a bicycle is left out in the weather, so the more you leave it, the more you should take it to your local bike shop.
3. Keep the bicycle covered.
Purchasing a generic tarp is the cheapest and easiest way to keep a bike in excellent 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 specifically for bikes (like the one pictured)! While these tend to be more expensive than just a tarp, it looks better and will be easy to store your bike in.
By far, if you are looking to leave your bicycle out in the weather, getting a bike cover like this is the best way to keep your bike in great condition. It will keep away moisture, and keep it out of the sun.
4. Seat cover
If you can’t get your bicycle covered in its entirety, you should at least keep your seat out of the weather. One of the components that will wear out quickly and 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, which is an excellent solution for a low-to-no cost! Alternatively, a water-resistant seat cover will further protect your seat from damage.
5. Build or buy a structure
Finally, if you need help getting past how temporary the options above look, you can always build or buy an enclosed structure! There are quite a few out there; however, the shed pictured is a great place to start, as it is a bit more of a permanent structure while still being easy to move if needed.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an excellent option for apartment dwellers.
How long until you will see the 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 place for your bike within a few days to a week of parking your bike.
This article helped you understand if you can leave your bike outside in the weather! There are several ways to keep your bike in excellent condition without bringing it inside; however, that will be the best way to fix the issue.
My main recommendation is to get yourself a dedicated bike cover and stay up on your maintenance, and call it good if bringing your bike inside is not an option!