The Northern climates dictate more of a schedule of down time for our bicycles. Many of the tips for putting your bike up for an extended period of time still fit. Bicycles resting requires some other logic to help keep it ready for the next ride as well as preserving it for the long haul. Preparing the bicycle in order to avoid deterioration is the goal. Where you store the bicycle makes a difference. Avoid keeping it out doors, even covered if at all possible. While you may not want to rent space, search out indoor options in your local- a friend’s garage, smaller “pay-by-the-item” places do exist in some larger cities.
First, store your bicycle with fully inflated tires. While this may not be as important if you hang your bicycle, it keeps the shape of the tire and tube. This is most critical if you park the bicycle on the floor. The air pressure will keep the weight of the bicycle off of the rubber-tires and tubes, and avoid extra cracking or other break down of the rubber in one spot.
Clean it up! Clean your bicycle. Many tools exist to help with this job. I recommend stopping by your local bike shop and picking up some brush, chain cleaner, and related cleaning items. Clean the chain with a brush and/or chain cleaning tool such as the Park Tool-cg-2.2. Pedro’s makes one called the Chain Pig II, which is similar but does not have the handle on the CG-2.2. You can also use a GRUNGE Brush made by Finish Line. Essentially, anything you do to get rid of the dust, dirt, and debris from your drive train makes a difference. Even though you may not be riding, minerals found in dirt and debris still interact with the metals.
Cleaning the frame helps to give you pause to check it over for any other wear and tear, such as rust spots, cracks, or other parts starting to fail in some fashion. Cleaners such as Windex, Simple Green, and Pledge are adequate for the task. Whatever you use, avoid any pressurized water. Water itself should never be left on the bike. Dry your bicycle off after any kind of water experiences. I like to use an air wand connected to my small air compressor to dry off water spots. The only warning about Pledge is to avoid using it on rims where the brakes rub. Pledge is useful as it has a small amount of silicone in it to help act as a type of light wax to retard water and dirt from sticking to the parts of the bicycle.
The next part might be necessary to take to your local bike shop/wrench. Lubing the cables, both brake and shifting cables. This helps to avoid corrosion, rusting, or poor performance. You may have stainless steel cables, which eliminates some rusting, but not other issues that can decrease the performance of the cables.
Wipe down the saddle, handlebars, grips, tape, and tires. Tires experience dry rot over time and dirt and other chemicals or debris on the rubber does not help. There are some tire brushes available just for the job. White lightning makes one that is adjustable. Spray on some Simple Green and brush off the dirt and rinse with a water bottle or very low pressure water source. ( Pressurized water can find its way into bearings which is bad news for performance and durability). Of course Pedro’s has their own Pro Brush kit. Park Tools has theirs. Oumers makes a 6 piece set that has a handy tire brush to it. While cleaning the saddle, handlebars, etc. makes the bike shine a bit more, there is nothing scientific about its cleaning, except to keep stuff from wearing on it unnecessarily.
Inspect your tires after cleaning them. Check for cracking. The cracking can lead to flats and poor performance. Doing it now can also give you time to figure out what tires you might want to replace the current set with so they are ready for the next ride.
Now is also a good time to have your local bike shop check your chain for wear and tear. They have tools that will show if the pins and other parts show wear. Often people will call this chain stretch, but the chain does not really stretch. The pins get sloppy along with the other dozen parts of the chain link. This will give you a heads up if you need it replaced or if the rear freewheel or cassette needs attention.
Last, check out your brakes. First, do they work. Second, do they have enough pad (if they are rim brakes this is easy to tell). If you have disc brakes you may need to ask for help, as the rotor might also need truing. The pads should have at least an 1/8″ clearance with the grooves. They also might need to be adjusted to keep them in good stopping order.
Now might be the best time to get your bicycle into the local bike shop as it is typically slow and you won’t have wait time. Chances are better that your bike will get a little more attention also.
Last, store your bicycle hung by its frame. Many folks hang bikes from the wheels using hooks. While this is better than on the floor, ideally, the frame is supporting the bike in at least two spots. so, hang by the frame, hang by two wheels, hang by one wheel, or have it on the ground is the order of recommendations.
Whether it is for the winter, snow and ice season or just a prolonged hiatus, put your bicycle up clean and tuned.