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I have been using a used bike for a few months now and when I bought it it was in mint conditions. However, the winter has been really harsh were I live and since I drove every day to work with it some components have become rusty (even though I cleaned and greased everything upon me buying it). What worries me the most are the brakes. They are simple rim brakes attached with one long bolt to the bike frame. Almost every nut on them has become rusty and the cables have quite a lot of rust on them too. On the other end, the body of the brakes is clean and there is no rust on it.

Now I was wondering whether I should just get new brakes or maybe change nuts, bolts and cables. I saw that this latter is not really cost efficient where I leave, so maybe changing everything is not a bad idea afterall. But is it necessary? What do you think?

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    Ideally you could upload some photos so we can see the extent of the problem to make a judgement on it. From what you describe, personally, i would just replace the cables and lube any pivots. – Andy P Apr 11 at 13:18
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Surface corrosion on nuts and bolts isn't a safety issue, so you don't have to replace the brake calipers. As David D suggests you can clan this off with steel wool. I would carefully apply a thin coat of grease as I spraying WD-40 on bikes attracts crud and you certainly do not want to get it on rims or brake pads.

Rusted cables is another matter. If the cable is rusted the housing probably is too. The corrosion may impede the travel of the cable through the housing and affect braking performance. I'd replace the cables at least with good quality stainless steel ones. They are not too expensive. You probably should have a look at your shift cables too.

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Try removing the rust with some 000 or 0000 steel wool and see how bad the rust really is. Experiment with dry steel wool/steel wool and a little WD-40 or other light lubricant and see what works best for you. Even cables can be cleaned and re-lubricated if they are not compromised.

  • If the steel wool removes the rust easily and the strength/performance of the materials is not compromised you should be fine. More frequent wipe down and some WD-40 will help reduce future rust.
  • If the steel wool cleaning exposes compromises in the strength/performance of the part then you'd need to replace that part.
  • Frequent inspection of the general condition of your bike is quick and easy and can indicate maintenance needs before expensive repairs are needed.

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