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Getting rid of the rust

Shauna Farnell
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Rule No. 1 of proper bicycle care: Don’t leave you bike outside during the winter, especially in a place where it’s exposed to record-breaking snowfall. But for some of us, it’s a little late for that now, isn’t it?Local bike technicians have some tips about getting bikes in good working order after a long winter of little to no use.”As far as the majority of problems, it depends on where the bike’s been stored,” said Dawes Wilson of Pedal Power bike shop in Eagle-Vail. “If a bike is stored indoors, it’s probably in the same condition people left it in last fall. If a bike is stored outdoors or in a garage – anywhere where there’s a lot of temperature change – it can have all sorts of wear.”If the bike has been in a place where it’s been subjected to moisture, the chain and tires are two of the first things to deteriorate.

“We’ve seen tires crack over a winter – new tired ruined,” Wilson said.And dry tires aren’t the only problem.”A lot of people leave their bikes outside on their decks in the snow or in a garage with a lot of stuff stacked on top,” said technician Matt Horton at Vail Bike Tech. “In that case, we see a bit of rust.” Since it’s typical for cyclists in the valley to go directly from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hammering on their bikes once the weather warms up, rust and cracked tires from outdoor storage can pose some dangers if neglected.Cracks are bad

“When you have cracks on side of tires, it’s like dry skin that’s sore and bleeding,” Horton said. “The cracks get worse over time. The tire will start to wear down quicker, but the main risk is having a blowout through a side wall.”Nobody wants their tire to explode, especially as they’re bombing down a dirt road or flying along US Highway 6. So if there’s any doubt of the stability of one’s tires, cyclists should swing into their local bike shop.”It’s probably the best thing to take it in and have a professional look it over,” Wilson said. “If it’s not too rusty, you can soak it and relube it. If it’s real rusty, you replace it.”A lot of rust in the chain will prevent a smooth ride because of stiff links leading to rough shifting.”When the chain rusts, the iron particles act as sandpaper,” Horton said. “It’s more financially dangerous than anything else. Because you might not just be looking at a new chain, but a whole new drive chain.”

Replacing a chain can be as little as $20. A drive train is about $300.”If you let it go, the whole drive chain wears together – the chain rings, the derailleurs, everything,” said Trent Connor, manager of the Kind Cyclist in Edwards. “The chain can start skipping, and the drive chain gets worn to that old chain. So, if you replace the chain then, the new chain is going to skip. If you replace the chain every 2,000 miles (or if it’s badly rusted), you save money in the long run.”A little lube goes a long waySome parts of the bike might have loosened over the course of winter storage, so riders should do a once-over of bolts and screws on the bike with an Allen wrench to make sure nothing is dangerously lose. Bike shops typically offer a similar service, where a technician also checks the condition of a bike’s chain, brakes, free-moving parts, and on suspension mountain bikes, the seals on shocks.Technicians say that keeping a chain and cables cleaned and lubed are the most important elements of bike maintenance throughout the season, and cyclists should heed the part about cleaning, even if they’re bike doesn’t appear to be caked with mud.

“Here where it’s pretty dry, there’s dust flying around, and it’s working its way into the chain and housing,” Horton said. “You can clean and lube your chain and cables in two and a half minutes.”Bike shops are beginning to be inundated with tune-up orders, and technicians know there are many other bikes out there in need of attention.”We see a lot of people where the first nice weekend after it’s been snowy and crappy, everyone gets out there on their bikes and realizes that they’ve been sitting all year and they’re trashed,” Connor said. “The first thing people should do is lube the chain and derailleurs, and on full-suspension bikes, clean the seals. Those three things can make a world of difference.”Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 748-2936, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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