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How to Store Bicycles Long Term

Jon Fesmire | August 15, 2022 @ 9:00 AM

If you’re an active cyclist, you may wonder why anyone would store a bike long term. Wouldn’t you want to keep your bicycle at home and go for regular rides? You may ride yours to work, to get around town, or for exercise a few times a week.

There are good reasons for storing a bicycle. You may prefer not to ride in the winter when it’s raining or snowing. After all, you could slip on the ice or an oil-slick road, and you don’t want to freeze or get soaked. Maybe you have a new bike and want to store your old one as a backup or until you can decide what to do with it. Perhaps you’re going to university and would rather keep your bike in storage near your parents’ home than bring it with you.

Whatever your reason, it’s important to store your bike correctly to keep it in good condition.

Dangers of Improper Storage

Why go through the trouble of preparing your bike for storage? Why not just rent a storage unit, put the bike there, and let it be? What can go wrong? As it turns out, a lot.

If you don’t clean your bike, dirt and grime can damage the paint and more. Moisture can cause rust, damaging the body, chains, and other metal parts. Old, dusty oil can clump causing the chains and other parts to jam.

Inspect Your Bike

Before we continue, we have a recommendation. If you don’t know the ins and outs of your bicycle and its parts, and especially if you have a high-end bike, bring it to a bike shop and pay them to fix it up. You will pay for parts and labor, but it will ensure your ride is in the best shape possible before you put it in storage.

If you’re able to inspect and fix it yourself, here are some things you can do.

Parts that may need replacing include brake pads, brake lines, housings, tires, tubes, and the chain.

One important step is to make sure there’s no water inside the frame. To do this, remove the seat and hang the bike upside down for about two hours. This will let most of the water drip out, helping to prevent rust.

You’ll also need to lube all the parts that need it, including the brake lines, the drive-train, the seat posts, and the bolts. Lube the derailers and shifter lines with WD-40. Fill the tires with air and make sure they remain firm.

Storing Your Bicycle

When the bike is clean, fixed, and lubed, it’s ready for storage. We highly recommend getting a unit with climate control, especially if you live in an area where the weather can get hot and humid in the summers, and cold and dry in the winters.

Wheel rubber is sensitive to UV light and to changes in humidity. These conditions can also damage the seat. Of course, your bike won’t be subject to sunlight inside the unit, but it can be susceptible to changes in the weather. Climate control protects against these dangers by keeping the humidity between 30% and 50% and the temperature between 50 and 80 degrees.

If you must rent a non-climate-controlled unit, we suggest removing the wheels and seat and storing them at home in a cool, dry place.

Protecting the Wheels

One danger inherent in having your bike resting against the wall or on a kickstand for long periods is that the wheels can develop flat spots. To prevent this, we recommend using bicycle wall hangers. Talk to the management at the facility of your choice and ask if it’s Okay to use this in your storage unit. There’s a good chance they’ll agree, and if they don’t, other facilities might. These will keep your bicycle off the ground, protecting the wheels and frame.

Ready to find a storage unit where you can store your bike, off-season clothes, business inventory, and more? Check our listings, which cover the U.S. and Canada. You’re bound to find an excellent facility near you.

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