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I took my mountain bike out yesterday in the snow. Did some hills around town, riding through slush and puddles, and all sort of dirt/mush/ice/snow.

I gave the bike a pretty good wipe-down after the ride, but I have my outside spigots turned off, so I didn't hose it down.

Should I be worried about potential damage to cogs/rings/chain/etc, or any of the other components on the bike? It's a Specialized Epic, aluminum, full suspension.


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Last winter when I was riding I found the salt was really hard on my chain. I gave it a spray before and after every ride but I still found many rusty looking spots (it was in good condition before winter). My bike is aluminum and it faired pretty well. –  sixtyfootersdude Jan 31 '11 at 13:08

4 Answers 4

For a one-off ride in the salt like that, you should be fine for now if you lube the chain and wipe it down. Give the bike a good washing whenever the weather warms up enough to turn on the outside spigot.

In my experience of riding through road salt (and grit, which is probably just as bad) on a regular basis, the bike tends to need a new chain every spring, and a new cassette and bearing overhauls about every second year or so.

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Road salt is pretty bad for your bike, and I would recommend cleaning it as often and as thoroughly as you can. It's my understanding that snow and ice can cause rust on steel frames, so you'll want to get those off as well. On an aluminum frame, I'd be concerned with the paint -- and with screws & bolts (usually made of steel).

I've never had a bike with suspension, but I would think the same problems could happen there, although my wife's suspension fork is sealed. (Rear suspension would offer more places for road salt and ice to hide, but rear shocks are usually sealed units as well.)

Clean thoroughly and often. You can use a tub or a shower, and I recommend against high-pressure water.

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Rolled back the edit about bearing efficiency since the question isn't about efficiency. –  Neil Fein Jan 23 '14 at 4:12

Salt could be very dangerous. If you own a car, you should already know that.

Your chain and probably other parts of drivetrain will need replacement in spring, if you ride your bike in winter.

If salt gets inside your suspension, it can do bad things to it.

Ride a cheap bike in winter.

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I have ridden my bike through many winters, and haven't had it at all destroyed by the process. I'm sure there are ways to help protect it, but as long as you clean it periodically, the bike didn't seem to suffer. (Trek 1200c, 5 years of Boston winters). –  zigdon Jan 31 '11 at 20:27
All of this is true, except for the claim that your bike will need to be replaced. Your drivetrain will need replacement if you don't clean it often. –  Neil Fein Jan 31 '11 at 22:31
I do not see where I have stated that bike will neet to be replaced. I have seen high-end fork which had got salt got in it because of lack of maintainance. It could not be repaired. It really depends on components on your bike. I would not ride an Ultegra-equiped bike, but I do not see a problem replacing a chain in the spring, as you would need to do that anyway. –  Papuass Feb 1 '11 at 8:45
Papuass: I think your last bolded sentence is ambiguous, you should rephrase it if you don't want to infer bike being replaced. –  user652 Feb 6 '11 at 4:29

Salt is bad, but please mind that washing salt off with a waterhose is also bad. Rain doesn't get into your bearings and chain, while water from a waterhose sometimes does get in nasty places.

Remove salt with some cleaner and some old cloth. Grease your chain again with thin oil. And grease all metal parts (bolts and stuff) with some thick grease such as vasaline.

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Specifically, a high pressure hose is bad and can force water into your bearings. A regular garden hose without a pressure nozzle isn't a big deal. –  jimirings Jan 27 '14 at 2:33

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