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Suppose want to park my bike outdoors all the time. Conventional wisdom is that you should park a bike under cover, but suppose that's not an option. What should you do?

Maybe sealed cartridge bearings would be better than cone-and-cup?

Maybe belt- or shaft-drive, or at least a full chain guard to keep rain off the chain?

Maybe a treatment to protect the tire rubber?

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I've also thought about this for bikes that are ridden in winter, or in the fall once they start putting down salt and dirt on the roads. I trashed a bike last fall because there was no snow until the end of December. Kept riding through the salt. Freewheel cassette is now fixed, brakes don't return, most chain links are rusted straight, among many other mechanical problems. I was planning on buying a new bike anyway this year, but for this fall I got a beater as I don't want the same to happen to my good bike. –  Kibbee Sep 17 '12 at 19:48
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4 Answers 4

You might enjoy reading David Hembrow's analysis of regular Dutch bikes: http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/01/anatomy-of-reliable-everyday-bicycle.html

Like the URL says: anatomy of a reliable everyday bike. Things like fenders and a fully-enclosed chainguard. Hub gear instead of derailler. Enclosed brakes.

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I still use my old (25 years) dutch-style bike, to take my kids to school every morning. Used to commute to school myself, 40 km / day, for 6 years. (Now its only 2 km / day). But in those 25 years of Dutch weather no significant maintenance happened. Brakes and chain do not wear. Oh wait: I had to change the rear-light, because I cracked it with the garage-door 5 years ago, that was a major maintenance issue. (My mountainbike however....) –  GvS Feb 2 '11 at 11:09
    
Using a dutch style bike in Belgium has been a general revelation for me. They're bikes designed for sheer practicality and relaxation. When all you do is go to the shops and back on flat roads its an absolute pleasure. The only issue was the dodgy English made 3-gear system. –  icc97 Aug 29 '11 at 14:35
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  • Steel frames are strong and durable, but can rust; aluminum would be a better option. (Carbon fiber or titanium won't rust, but these are expensive enough not to want a bike left outside for security's sake.)
  • An internal hub is sealed and will eliminate most drivetrain problems, especially if you don't use a front derailer. In addition, cleaning an internal-hub-only drivetrain is faster than on a traditional dual-derailer setup. Downsides: A bit more expensive, and removing the rear wheel to change a flat is a little more complex.
  • A chain guard isn't a bad idea, but a lot of the gunk that gets caught in the drivetrain is kicked up by the tires. Full fenders will go a long way towards keeping your drivetrain (and you) clean.
  • As icc97 has recommended, a stainless steel chain might be helpful, but replacing a chain is very inexpensive if you do it regularly.
  • Anything made of leather will not wear well (mostly saddles, grips, and bags) so you would do best to avoid it on an outdoors-dedicated steed.
  • Attachment hardware, such as screws holding stuff like racks, fenders, shifters, brake levers and so on will rust. It's a good idea to keep an eye on this, cleaning or replacing as needed. Screw threads will sometimes also rust, so keep an eye on that. Also, frequent cleaning in general will help enormously.

Much of the above can get expensive. If you don't ride far or fast, there's the opton of finding a cheap, used bike and replacing it at the end of the season; used bikes can be found fairly easily if you're not picky.

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About the "will rust" part: putting an excessive amount of thick grease (not oil, solid grease) might subvert that. –  Vorac Sep 24 '13 at 14:45
    
@Vorac rack screws etc. can be replaced by stainless hardware, but you can almost guarantee that there will be at least one non-stainless steel fastener with no (cheap) stainless equivalent per bike. –  Chris H Sep 24 '13 at 14:52
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How about a stainless steel chain? Also if you could remove the saddle and seat post inside and cover the hole that would help. You don't want to consider some kind of bike cover?

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No I've never tried them - but by definition stainless steel never rusts from just rain water, salt and mud . If the chain rusts its probably not stainless steel. –  icc97 Aug 25 '11 at 14:56
    
Sorry, you're quite right - I've deleted my useless comment. I'm managing to confuse myself. The Connex chains aren't fully stainless steel. The inner link is but I assume that doesn't include the pin otherwise they'd advertise it as so. I'm guessing that the sections that would rust the most and cause the most friction would be the plates and a combination of stainless steel inner and nickel plated outer and a decent amount of oil would be as resistant as you're going to get. –  icc97 Aug 29 '11 at 14:26
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Static fork. The are both cheep and low-maintenance. Here's what happens to a low-end suspension fork, after being left for a winter in the rain & snow (my workplace had not garage/bike shelter).

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