Essential Winter Bike Maintenance Tips – What You Need to Know Before Storing Your Bike for the Season

female and male riding mountain bikes in the fall in bozeman

Our team is busy soaking up fall riding while dreaming of winter! From snowshoeing, fat-biking, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and downhill skiing, there’s something for everyone during a Bozeman winter. But as the temperatures drop, it’s also time to think about preparing your bicycle for winter.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the essential steps to ready your bike for another snowy winter and provide practical advice to ensure it’s in top shape when the thaw arrives. And, if you’re like us and don’t let the snow stop you from riding, check out a Rocky Mountain fat tire bike! These fun and versatile bikes will keep you riding year-round. Not ready to buy? During winter, you can rent fat bikes through our mountain bike rental program! Rent one today and see what the fun is all about! Alright, let’s get to the list!

rocky mountain fat bikes

Cleaning Your Bike

Cleaning your mountain bike after a summer of riding is essential before stashing it away for a Bozeman winter. A thorough cleaning preserves the bike’s appearance and ensures its longevity by preventing corrosion and damage.

  1. Start by rinsing off dirt and grime with a hose.
  2. Use a gentle bike-specific cleaner and a soft brush or sponge to scrub away stubborn residue.
  3. Using specific bike cleaning brushes will make getting into all those small, hard-to-reach areas easier. Pay close attention to the drivetrain, brakes, and suspension components.
  4. Park Tool’s Silicone Chain Scrubber works great for getting a season of dirt and grime out of your chain.
  5. Finally, use a soft micro-fiber towel to wipe down your bike.

You’ll be ready for the next steps now that you have a clean, shiny bike. It only takes a little elbow grease, high-quality cleaning products and the right tools!

female cleaning a gravel bike in a bike wash station
close up of pedal and drivetrain getting washed

Lubrication and Rust Prevention

Now that your bike is clean, it’s time to grease it! You want to apply lubricant to all moving parts. Apply a high-quality bike-specific lubricant to headsets, bottom brackets, cranks, pedals, and hubs. A high-quality lubricant like the PolyLube 1000 repels moisture and has a high shear strength to protect vital parts under extreme conditions. This will keep these parts from seizing up during the winter months and ensure smooth operation when you’re ready to ride again.

Focusing on proper lubrication and rust prevention will help safeguard your mountain bike and ensure it’s in excellent condition when spring beckons you back to the trails. Not comfortable deep in grease pulling your bottom bracket apart? Our team can help! Click below to schedule a service appointment.

Drivetrain Inspection

Inspecting your bike’s drivetrain is a crucial step in its maintenance routine. Begin by closely examining the chain (this tool works great!) for signs of wear or stretching. If it’s stretched beyond 0.5mm, it’s time to replace it! Riding with a worn chain will eat through chainrings and cassettes fast, costing you far more in the long run.

Moving on to the cassette and derailleur, carefully inspect the cassette’s teeth for signs of wear or damage. If you notice any issues, consider replacing it. Likewise, check the jockey wheels on the derailleur for wear, as worn wheels can affect shifting performance.

The drivetrain should be clean and dry from Step 1, so now it’s time to lubricate it properly. Apply a bike-specific chain lubricant, ensuring it penetrates each link and pivot point on the derailleur. Allow a few minutes for the lubricant to penetrate, then wipe off any excess with a clean rag to prevent attracting dirt.

finish line bike lube
Dumonde tech bike lube

Suspension and Bearings

Inspecting your bike’s suspension components is crucial for maintaining peak performance and safety. To do so, check for any visible damage or wear on the suspension forks and rear shock. Look for oil leaks, scratches, or dents on the stanchions and inspect the seals for any signs of wear or leaks. Pay close attention to the pivot points and linkage, ensuring no play or excessive movement. Proper suspension function is essential for a comfortable and controlled ride, especially on rough terrain.

When it comes to servicing your suspension, we’ve got your back! Our experienced mechanics are well-versed in servicing suspension systems, ensuring that your bike’s suspension is in top-notch condition. By entrusting your bike to our qualified team, you’ll enjoy a smoother, safer, and more enjoyable ride every time you hit the trails.

male working on bike suspension
close up of fox float shock
close up of mechanic working on shock

Brake Maintenance

Regularly inspect your disc brakes for any signs of wear, including thinning brake pads or uneven wear patterns on the rotor. If you notice reduced braking power, squeaking, or vibrations, it’s time to address the issue.

Begin by cleaning the rotors with isopropyl alcohol and a clean cloth to remove any contaminants. Check the brake calipers for proper alignment and make adjustments if necessary to ensure even pad-to-rotor contact.

Monitor brake fluid levels in hydraulic systems and bleed them periodically to maintain optimal performance. Keeping your disc brakes well-maintained not only enhances your bike’s stopping power but also ensures your safety on the trails.

male mechanic working on a brake bleed
male mechanic working on a brake bleed
male mechanic working on a brake bleed

Tire Care

For winter storage of tubeless wheels and tires, there are two recommended approaches. The first option is to keep them inflated at regular intervals to prevent the tire beads from coming unseated and causing sealant leakage.

You want to inflate them to the maximum pressure allowed by the rims and tires and then give the wheels a good spin. This will keep the sealant mixed and prevent it from solidifying.

The second option involves deflating, removing, and cleaning the tires. Thoroughly clean the wheels and tires using a gentle cleaning spray. Wipe away all sealant residues, semi-dried slurry, dried sealant chunks, and dirt or grease. This process also provides an opportunity to inspect the tire for any cuts, wear, or damage you have missed during the season.

You Say Snow, I Say Ride!

Bozeman is so beautiful in the winter. Who can resist the crisp air and the quiet, snow-covered trails? Not us!! Biking in the winter brings a unique experience. While the cold and snow may initially seem daunting, there’s an undeniable magic in pedaling through our winter wonderland. So, gear up and brave the cold! It’s worth it!

If you plan on riding this winter, here is a list of things you should do to protect your bicycle from the harsh winter elements and ensure it’s in top shape when spring arrives.

  1. Apply Rust Inhibitor: Use a rust inhibitor or corrosion-resistant spray on exposed metal parts to prevent rust formation from moisture and salt.
  2. Regular Cleaning: Clean your bike regularly to remove salt, dirt, and grime that can corrode components. Pay special attention to the drivetrain.
  3. Lubricate Moving Parts: Keep all moving parts well-lubricated to prevent freezing and maintain smooth operation.
  4. Fender Installation: Install fenders to shield your bike and yourself from slush, road debris, and water spray.
  5. Local? Visit us for tire & sealant recommendations!

Bonus Section! Storing Your E-Bike Battery

  • Keep your electric bike’s battery inside at room temperature (55-75 degrees Fahrenheit). The battery doesn’t remove? Keep your whole bike indoors!
  • When storing your eBike for 30 days or longer, keep it charged at 50-70%.
  • If you do ride your e-bike throughout the winter, keep the battery warm right up until your ride. The same average room temperature of 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
image of a juliana hanging in the stand in owenhouse cycling

Visit Owenhouse Cycling Today

We’re so lucky to have an abundance of winter sports in Bozeman! If you hang up your bike in the winter, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you active and outside. We even have some tips from our team on ways to stay fit in the winter months! And, if you’re dreaming of heading to warm slickrock and sunny skies this winter, check out our blog on winter mountain biking destinations.

Don’t forget regular cleaning, lubrication, and tire care are paramount to combat the harsh winter elements. And if you get out and ride, fenders and rust inhibitors will offer added protection. The most important thing? Store your bike indoors! Keeping it away from the cold and moisture is crucial for its longevity.

To ensure everything is in perfect working order, don’t forget to schedule a visit to Owenhouse Cycling for servicing. Winter is the ideal time to get your bike serviced!

Remember: Owenhouse Cycling sells new bikes and rents bikes in Bozeman.

Too much snow on the ground? Need a fat bike?

Rent a fat bike at Owenhouse Cycling and head to Crosscut Mountain Sports Center for groomed fat biking! Happy riding!

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