Shayne, resident WTF mechanic at Sunrise Cyclery and all around awesome person, showed us all how to care for our bikes throughout the winter season. If you need any hands-on instruction or advice, please come down to Sunrise (Preferably on a first/ third Thursday for Grease Rag!) and ask us.
Shayne wrote a really good recap of her cleaning and maintenance advice from last year's skill-share. It covers what to do daily/ every few days, weekly, and at the end of the season. Check it out here.
One thing that we neglected to mention at the skill-share were the multitudes of online resources out there for winter bikers. This is a link to Free Online Resources that we posted last year- feel free to add your own!I read a comment to Karen Hollish's Twin Cities Daily Planet article on our skill-share from Lynnell, and I wanted to try to respond to here. I think Lynnell is asking how often they needs to clean their bike, where, and how to do it. This is what I would suggest, but I really encourage other people to chime in with their experiences and advice in the comments!
Keeping your bike "cold"
When snow and slush sticks to your bike it brings with it evil, evil corrosive CaCl and NaCl- road salt. If you are able to keep your bike in a garage where the snow won't melt, I assume you have to clean it less than if you bring your bike inside where it is warm. When the snow melts and the water drains or evaporates, the corrosive materials are left behind to eat your bike.
Where do you clean your bike? How often do you clean your bike?
When I kept my bike "cold" in a garage (Locked up, of course!) I would take a big acryllic brush and knock off all the snow from the bike and just leave it out there until I rode again. (I would suggest a toilet bowl brush, a boot brush, the kind of brush used for cleaning homebrew equipment, a broom... whatever you have around!) Every couple of days I would bring it inside after knocking the snow off and on a tarp in my living room I would do a quick cleaning. Every week- 2 weeks I would do a much more thorough cleaning. I didn't ride every day- maybe 3 days a week. This is what worked for me, but your mileage may vary. Also, I sometimes would get bored and wanted to futz with my bike so I would bring it in and clean it sometimes more often than every 1-2 weeks.
My situation has changed this winter. I hope to ride every day, and I have to bring my bike inside for a lack of cold storage. I have a water-proof tarp laid down in our hall closet with a plastic boot tray in there. I use the brush to knock the snow away, and park the bike with the really snow parts/ the drive train over the boot tray. (I have also used a plastic sled for this, but this year I couldn't find one that fit.) I will plan on giving the bike a wipe-down every day or every other day, and I'll probably be doing a thorough cleaning once a week.
Oh, and for the love of gorsh, remember to re-lubricate after cleaning!!!
I hope this answers your question, Lynnell. More info on tires and such will be coming up shortly! For instructions on HOW to clean your bike, please check out Shayne's recap from last year, here.