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How To Store Bicycles Outside – 9 Tips to Increase The Lifespan Of Your Bike

Finding adequate storage space for your bike can be a daunting task, especially when living in apartments where space is limited. If you’re considering purchasing a bike but are unsure about how to store bicycles outside, this article is for you.

Why is it bad storing a bike outside?

One of the main issues with storing your bike outside is exposure to constant temperature changes, rain, and sunshine.

These factors cause the materials of your bike to shrink or expand, leading to stress and decay over time. Although this process may not be visible to the naked eye, it can damage parts of your bike made of rubber or synthetic materials, such as the tires, seat, and grips. Years ago, I made the mistake of storing my bike on a hot and sunny balcony during the summer. Needless to say, I regretted my decision soon after.

Constant humidity can also speed up corrosion. For instance, if you store your bike outside in a rainy area, the weather can significantly damage it in just over a couple of years, even if you only use it occasionally.

Therefore, if you have enough space to do so, I recommend storing your bike indoors to prevent long-term damage and decay. 

If storing your bike indoors is not an option for you, here are our top tips to help minimize potential weather damage.


How to keep your bike prepared for outdoor storage?

Always keep it as clean as possible

Regular cleaning helps to maintain your bike’s performance and prolongs its lifespan. Dirt and grime can accumulate on the chain, gears, and other moving parts, causing them to wear out faster and reducing their effectiveness. A dirty bike can lead to mechanical issues such as brake failure, which can be dangerous while riding.

The frequency of cleaning depends on how often you ride, the conditions in which you ride, and how much dirt and debris your bike accumulates during use. In general, it’s recommended to clean your bike after every ride or at least once a week.

How to do it?

  1. You will need a bucket, bike-specific cleaner or soap, a sponge or soft brush, and a hose.
  2. Use the hose to rinse the bike thoroughly to remove any loose dirt and debris.
  3. Apply the bike cleaner or soap to the frame, wheels, chain, and other areas that need cleaning. Avoid getting cleaner on the brake pads if possible.
  4. Use a sponge or soft brush to scrub the bike’s frame, wheels, chain, and other parts to remove dirt and grime. Pay attention to hard-to-reach areas, such as under the saddle, around the bottom bracket, and inside the derailleur cage.
  5. Rinse the bike thoroughly with water to remove all soap and cleaner. Be sure to rinse off any cleaner from the brake pads.
  6. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe down the bike and remove any remaining water. Pay special attention to the chain, wheels, and other areas that tend to collect water.
  7. Bonus Tip: While cleaning, it’s a good idea to inspect your bike for any signs of damage or wear. Check the frame, wheels, brakes, and other parts for any cracks, dents, or loose bolts.

Apply a coat of wax every 3 months

Applying a fresh coat of wax to the frame will not only keep it looking good for longer. It can also slow down corrosion caused by rain, snow, and sun exposure.

How to do it?

  1. Select a wax that is specifically designed for use on bicycles. Make sure the wax is suitable for the type of paint on your bike frame.
  2. Take a small amount of wax on a soft cloth and apply it in a circular motion to the bike frame. Cover the entire frame with a thin, even layer of wax.
  3. Once you have applied the wax, let it dry for a few minutes. The time it takes for the wax to dry will depend on the type of wax you are using.
  4. Use a clean, dry cloth to buff the wax off the bike frame. Buff the frame in a circular motion until all the wax has been removed and the frame is shiny.
  5. Repeat the above steps to apply another coat of wax to the bike frame. Multiple coats of wax can provide additional protection to your bike’s paint.

Adjust tire pressure

Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure level before storing your bike. This will ensure that the tires maintain their shape and don’t develop flat spots during storage.

How to do it like a pro?

  1. Get a tire pressure gauge: You will need a tire pressure gauge to measure your bike’s tire pressure.
  2. Check the recommended tire pressure: You can usually find the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall of the tire or in the bike’s manual.
  3. Deflate or inflate the tires: If your bike’s tire pressure is too high, deflate it to the recommended pressure. If the pressure is too low, use a pump to inflate the tire to the recommended psi.
  4. Check the tire pressure again: After adjusting the tire pressure, use the tire pressure gauge to measure the pressure and ensure that it matches the recommended level.

Lubricate moving parts every 2-3 weeks

Applying lubricant to the chain, derailleurs, brakes, and other moving parts of your bike will prevent them from rusting or seizing up during storage.

How to do it?

  1. Choose a good quality lubricant that’s specifically designed for bikes. You can use a wet or dry lubricant, depending on your riding conditions.
  2. Use a soft cloth or brush to clean the chain, derailleurs, brakes, and other moving parts of your bike to remove any dirt or debris.
  3. Apply a generous amount of lubricant to the chain and other moving parts of your bike. Be sure to apply the lubricant evenly and avoid over-lubricating.
  4. Use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess lubricant from the chain and other parts. Too much lubricant can attract dirt and cause problems with your bike’s shifting and braking.
  5. Shift through all gears and pedal the bike to work the lubricant into all moving parts. This will help distribute the lubricant evenly and ensure that all parts are protected.
  6. After working the lubricant in, check for excess lubricant again and wipe off any remaining residue.

Loosen and Grease Bolts every 6 months

Seized bolts on your bike can be a nightmare, but you can prevent them by regularly applying grease or lubrication after loosening them.

How to do it?

  1. You will need a wrench or socket set to loosen the bolts, a degreaser/cleaner, a brush or rag, and a grease/lubricant.
  2. Identify the bolts that need to be loosened and greased. This may include bolts that hold the stem, seat post, derailleur, or other parts of the bike.
  3. Use the appropriate tool to loosen the bolts, being careful not to strip or damage them. If they are rusted or corroded, you may need to use a penetrating oil or rust dissolver to help loosen them.
  4. Use a degreaser or cleaner and a brush or rag to clean the bolts thoroughly, removing any dirt or grime that may have accumulated. Make sure to dry them completely before applying the grease.
  5. Use a small amount of grease or lubricant to coat the threads of the bolts, being careful not to over-apply. Wipe away any excess grease with a clean rag.
  6. Carefully reinstall the bolts, making sure they are properly aligned and tightened to the correct torque specifications. Be careful not to over-tighten them, which can cause damage to the bike’s components.

How to limit exposure?

Store it in a covered area

Storing your bike in a covered area like a garage, balcony, shed or bike rack is the simplest solution. If you live in an apartment block, there’s a chance that the building has an indoor bike storage room.

Use a bike shed

A bicycle shed can be an excellent investment for anyone looking for a secure and long-term storage solution for their bike, but it’s essential to consider the cost, installation, maintenance, and space limitations before making a purchase.

Pros:

  • Security: A bicycle shed provides a secure place to store your bike, protecting it from theft and vandalism.
  • Protection: A bicycle shed is one of the best ways to protect your bike from harsh weather conditions.
  • Long-term storage solution: A bicycle shed provides a durable and long-lasting storage solution for your bike, protecting it from dust and debris buildup that can decrease its lifespan.
  • Convenient: A bicycle shed provides easy access to your bike, making it convenient to use and encouraging you to ride your bike more often.

Cons:

  • Cost: A good quality bicycle shed can be expensive, especially if you need a larger one to store multiple bikes.
  • Installation: Bicycle sheds require installation, which can be time-consuming and challenging, especially if you’re not handy with tools.
  • Space: Bicycle sheds take up space in your yard, which could be a problem if you have limited outdoor space or live in an apartment.
  • Maintenance: Bicycle sheds require regular maintenance, such as cleaning, painting, and repairs, to keep them in good condition.
  • Limited portability: Bicycle sheds are not portable, which means you cannot take them with you if you move or relocate.

Use a bike cover

Bike covers are a simple way to protect your bike from the elements and keep it in good condition. However, it’s important to be aware of their limitations and take additional security measures to deter theft.

Pros:

  • Protection from the elements: Bike covers protect your bike from harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow, and UV rays that can cause damage to the paint and frame.
  • Affordable: Good quality bike covers are relatively inexpensive and offer a cost-effective solution for protecting your bike.
  • Portable: Bike covers are lightweight and can be easily folded up, making them convenient to take with you on the go.
  • Easy to use: Bike covers come with straps or elastic hems that make securing them to your bike a breeze.
  • Versatile: Bike covers come in different sizes, shapes, and colors, making it easy to find one that fits your bike’s specific needs and design.

Cons:

  • Security: Bike covers are not a foolproof security measure. Although they can deter casual theft, determined thieves may still gain access to your bike.
  • Limited protection: While bike covers are designed to protect your bike from the elements, they may not provide complete protection against extreme weather conditions like heavy rain or snow.
  • Maintenance: Bike covers can collect moisture, dirt, and debris, which can lead to mold, mildew, and other issues. It’s essential to clean them regularly to prevent these problems.

Use a bike tent

A bike tent is a mid-range option for bike storage, offering more protection than a bike cover but not as much as a bike shed. It is ideal for you if you need a more secure place to store their bikes but do not want to invest in a larger and more expensive bike shed. A bike tent is also a good option for those who do not have a completely covered space to store their bike, as it provides ample protection against the elements while being more compact and portable than a bike shed.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective: Bike tents are relatively inexpensive compared to bicycle sheds or garages, making them an affordable option for bike storage.
  • Protection: Bike tents provide more comprehensive protection from the elements. They are designed to protect your bike from rain, snow, and harsh sunlight, while bike covers mainly protect against dust, moisture, and UV rays.
  • Installation: Bike tents can be set up by anyone in a matter of minutes.

Cons:

  • Security: Bike tents offer less security compared to bicycle sheds or garages since they are made of lightweight materials that can be cut or damaged easily.
  • Limited space: Bike tents have limited space and may not be able to accommodate larger or multiple bikes.
  • Durability: Bike tents are not as durable as bicycle sheds and may wear out quickly due to exposure to the elements.
  • Maintenance: Bike tents require regular maintenance such as cleaning and repairs to keep them in good condition.

FAQ

Q: Are bicycle sheds expensive?

A: Bicycle sheds can be expensive, especially if you need a larger one that can accommodate multiple bikes. However, they provide a secure and durable storage solution for your bike that will last for many years.

Q: Can bike covers protect against extreme weather?

A: While bike covers can provide basic protection from the elements, they may not withstand extreme weather conditions like heavy rain or snow. It’s important to consider additional security measures as well.

Q: What is the most secure way to store a bike?

A: The most secure way to store a bike is in a bicycle shed or garage, as these provide the highest level of protection from theft and vandalism.

Q: Can You Leave An Electric Bike Outside?

A: You can, but we do not recommend leaving an electric bike outside as it is more susceptible to theft and damage from extreme weather conditions. We recommend using a bicycle shed or garage for secure long-term storage.


What to do next?

Now that you have learned about the different ways to store your bikes, it’s time to decide which option is best for you. You may also want to research locks and other security measures to ensure the safety of your bike no matter where you choose to store it. If you are thinking about buying a bike but you are unsure what size suits you best, check out our article about choosing the perfect bicycle.

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Author

Mate is a passionate bikepacking enthusiast and the founder of this website. He loves exploring new destinations, admiring nature, and engaging in outdoor activities. He strongly believes that healthy living should be environmentally friendly too, which is why he prefers to use bicycles for his transport needs.