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Marinas are often located a bit outside from town centers and shopping locations. So a bike might be a good thing to have aboard a sailing boat. Given the limited space on such a vessel I'm thinking about getting a folding bike.

What should I look for in a bike and storage location, considering that the environment, even inside the cabin, will be quite salty and might cause the bike to rust faster than I'd like.

Currently I'm mostly doing short trips so I can store it most of the time on land, but I plan on going on a larger trip around Northern Atlantic once I feel comfortable and properly equipped (and told my boss ;-) )

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I'd suggest that you just get a moderately priced bike (folding if you wish) and keep it well-lubed. Some sort of internal coating such as the suggested "Frame Saver" is probably a good idea too. For storage, I'd suggest a loose-fitting plastic cover of some sort. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 1 '12 at 19:20
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've had a couple of non-folding mountain bikes on a sailboat for 5 years. I opted for smaller frame non-folding bikes for performance, and there is a hatch they barely fit through.

Of course, rust is the major problem. Banging around in the waves and in the process of storing them is a potential problem. Because of this, there are no drink holders, speedometers, or other extra snags on the bikes. Regular chain lube helps a lot. The cables rusted enough to require replacement once. There are a few non-stainless bolts and nuts on the bikes (a Specialized and a Diamondback). They're easy to spot and replace or grease. The stainless steel material holds up well. Unpainted aluminum is corroding, but not to the point of failure.

The good thing is that although the bikes ride, shift, and brake very well, they are really ugly from rust and corrosion, so we don't have to lock them up when we use them -- nobody wants to steal them.

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Rust is a valid concern, but there are certainly ways you can deal with it. And aluminum-framed bike will not rust like a steel one. If you do have a steel-framed bike, investing in a product such as Frame Saver certainly makes a lot of sense. I would be sure to keep your drivetrain well-lubricated, as well.

The final concern would be assorted nuts and bolts. I wouldn't think most of these would be a major problem, but if it looks like they are starting to rust over, you might want to consider replacing them with their titanium equivalent.

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Most bolts on decent quality bikes are stainless steel, and reasonably immune to corrosion. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 1 '12 at 19:23
Most, but there can be a few (like the ones that hold the reflectors on) that may not be. It's probably not enough to carry a collection of stainless nuts and bolts, but there is probably already a collection of stainless nuts and bolts on the boat. – xpda Mar 4 '12 at 18:42

Maybe you can find some folding bike with belt-drive instead of chain-drive. This would remove the most "rust forming" element of the bike.

Also, hydraulic brakes, be them disc or rim brakes, eliminate the hardening inside the brake cables, which sometimes is annoying.

And, if you are not willing to spend much, a bit of simple extra care, taken just a bit more often than a non-salty-environment bike, would allow you to use your bike without having to spend too much energy on it.

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Keeping the cables well lubricated will probably prevent most cable corrosion. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 1 '12 at 19:21

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