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Okay. I have a bike which I would like to store for around six moths. Winter temperatures can be as low as -30 C. The problem is that I do not have an indoor storage space, so it is going to reside on a balcony. We also have lots of snow.

So, my plan is:
1. Inflate tires to max
2. Greasing
3. Wrap bike in plastic wrap.

Any suggestions?

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9 Answers 9

Here a few other considerations:

  • Make sure bike is 100% dry
  • Yes oil chain and all other gears, bearings etc...
  • If bike is steel, oil or repaint any exposed metal
  • If bike steel, add nice layer of car wax and buff
  • If bike is carbon, polish with Lemon fresh wood furniture polish
  • If saddle is leather polish'er up with some mink oil or other leather conditioner
  • Oil/Lube each spoke at the nipple
  • Lift bike so it is not resting on its tires
  • Assuming plastic is draping, but make sure tied down so it does not blow away!

Hope that helps...if I think of any others I'll lyk!

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1  
Is there harm in just taking the tires off completely? Then could the bike safely rest on the rims? –  kmm Sep 19 '11 at 19:10
    
@Kevin - Do you mean the tires or the rims? Storing tires on their own, it's probably best to store those flat without too much weight on them. –  Neil Fein Sep 20 '11 at 3:30
    
I was thinking remove the tires completely and store them separately (in a closet or something). Then let the bike rest on the rims (maybe I should say wheels), avoiding the need to (1) keep the tires inflated or (2) lift the bike, as suggested in the answer. –  kmm Sep 20 '11 at 3:54

Here's my solution. Take off wheels, pedals, and handlebars, and place the bike under the bed. Ok, that may not be the right solution, but it might point you in the right direction. If you start taking parts off your bike, you can fit it in a pretty small place. You might even want to consider taking parts off and storing everything but the frame inside your apartment. Take out the bottom bracket and leave that in the house. Wheels can be easily stored inside. The seat/seat post is dead easy to remove and can be stored just about anywhere. Basically you should store as much inside as you can.

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1  
+1, yep, even just removing pedals and loosening the headset (so you can rotate handlebars 90 degrees), will make the bike very narrow. –  Angelo Sep 19 '11 at 20:56

No need to do anything extra special. Just keep it dry, mostly, and it doesn't hurt to hang it so the weight is off the tires. In the case of "sorta outside storage", if you cover it be sure that air can circulate under the cover to keep it dry -- don't wrap too tightly. And be wary of placing the bike in a location (eg, near a bathroom exhaust fan) where humidity from inside will come out and condense on it.

I wouldn't take the tires off -- more apt to damage the bike than with them on. But it doesn't hurt to take the seat inside (something mice might gnaw on).

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Wrapping with plastic for a season will result in trapping moisture, instead of keeping it out. Moisture will penetrate unless you do something extreme like vacuum-sealing (which isn't practical in this case).

You're better off making sure the bike is well-covered to keep off precipitation, but can also breathe to allow excess moisture to evaporate.

GuyZee's tips are good. I'd inspect the bike once a month to ensure it doesn't need extra grease and there's no rust or moisture build-up.

Also, if the balcony is accessible from the ground in any manner, you're giving bike thieves the advantage of time.

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I would purchase a commercial bike cover (available from plenty of places) and use that to keep the bike protected. Before putting it in storage I would use an oily rag to go over the allen key bolts, e.g. in the stem. No more than that is really needed, cleaning the bike up will remove that protective layer of dirt and grime that has built up.

To better look after the tyres you may want to put the bike upside down, taking care that the shifters and seat don't get scuffed.

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The main thing on the tires is to make sure they don't go flat and sit flat (with weight on the tires) for long periods, as this will encourage cracking. Some tires you can inflate to 80psi and they will still hold 30 (which is plenty) 6 months later, while others will be dead flat in a week. You know your tires and should know (more or less) which scenario you'll have. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 21 '11 at 3:14

Consider using a Yardstash product instead of a bike cover. Provides better protection than just wrapping in a tarp or plastic. You can purchase directly from www.yardstash.com.

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Look cool, but will it withstand heavy snow load? I've seen a really strong looking greenhouse being smashed flat by snow. –  sharptooth Dec 19 '11 at 10:44

You have three risk factors - snow, condensing moisture and tires going flat. The solution is to hang the bike and cover it from above so that it is vented from beneath. Hanging will require anything looking like two anchors and some reliable rope. Covering can be made of any strong water-resistant material. Well-vented bike covered from snow and hanging will be protected.

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$11 Alternative-

Lube the chain before storage. Completely wrap and tape shut with some desiccant inside. Seal it completely. Low moisture should mean little rusting. Hang it to prevent damage to the tires.

Home depot sells 10ft square painter's plastic sheets and desiccant for about $3 and $7.50 respectively. This desiccant requires something like a double boiler to store the desiccant in. It absorbs moisture and drips into the lower container. You can make this with old stackable tupperwear containers or buy it at the Home Depot for a few more dollars.

Free Alternative- Wrap it completely and forget about it until the spring. It'll be just fine! That's what I'd be doing!

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1  
Desiccant will last about a week in those conditions. Better to cover more loosely so air can circulate. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 22 '13 at 2:11
    
And desiccant is rubbish at low temps - but the absolute humidity will be as good as zero at -30. The less cold but damp conditions either side will probably be worse. –  Chris H Jul 29 '13 at 10:42

The other side of the coin is what to do in the spring. I'd say:

  • get all the grease off and re-oil/grease everything
  • pump tires up and check after a few days
  • maybe inspect tubes
  • look for new rust around cable glands etc. (when regreasing)
  • pull seriously hard on brake levers before you need to
  • clean rims
  • a good test ride before you rely on it.

I'm sure there's plenty to add to this list, you might even take a look at an old answer about restoring neglected bikes for tips, even though you're doing what you can to take care of it.

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