I've left my road bike standing on a flat tyre for at least six months. I'm going to replace the tyre and tube, but I want to check first if I might have damaged the wheel

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    Unlikely to have damaged the rim/wheel, assuming the bike wasn't stored with a rider on it. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 16 '20 at 12:33
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    I doubt it too..I have encountered a flat on the road without repair kit..Still drove home on the rim..Damaged rim but fixed it with a file..Did not encounter any structural damage to the wheel.. – Rubus Aug 16 '20 at 13:03
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    Yeah, it's good to replace the tire, as it has likely developed cracks from sitting flat for so long. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 16 '20 at 15:20
  • Do you move the bike around at all in the storage area (garage, etc)? I assume you don't ride it like this. Do people push past the bike to get anywhere? Could it have been bumped with a car or similar ? – Criggie Aug 16 '20 at 20:39

Leaving a flat for months won't damage the wheel assuming the flat is the only factor in the equation.

If the tire going flat was part of a chain of events there might be damage.

If the tire was sitting in a half inch of water, the tire went flat and the steel wheel was now sitting in water the rim might rust. Even in this example I doubt the rust would be bad enough that the wheel would be unusable.

  • Six months of rust is quite a bit. – MaplePanda Aug 16 '20 at 17:48
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    Rust is rather hard to come by when all modern rims are aluminum... – cmaster - reinstate monica Aug 16 '20 at 22:11
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    @cmaster-reinstatemonica Modern rims might be... but depending on what part of the world you live in, there's loads of bikes running around that have been around for decades. Pretty sure half the bikes in the Netherlands were made sometime in the 1950s, and have just cycled (ha!) back through the secondhand market every since. – Sebastian Lenartowicz Aug 17 '20 at 7:22
  • @cmaster-reinstatemonica: I had quite some problems with corrosion of aluminium spoke nipples. Made me switch to brass. – Michael Aug 17 '20 at 7:39
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    @Michael But aluminum corrosion is not rust. You can only have rust when the chemical element iron is involved. Aluminum corrosion is not even brown! (I know I'm nitpicking here. I get what you mean. Still, I like precise usage of terms :-) ) – cmaster - reinstate monica Aug 17 '20 at 7:43

The tire takes damage from not being inflated when a bike is standing on it. It deforms, and its structure may be weakened. It might be possible to remedy a deformed tire, but if it develops cracks on its flanks after being inflated, the tire needs to go into the trash. You say that you want to replace your tire anyways, so this is not your problem.

The rims are usually aluminum today, and spokes are typically steel, both of which don't care whether they are rotating or not.

What you need to worry about is rust and lubrication of all moving parts, though. Your bike has not been moved for six months, it might need a bit of maintenance before delivering 100% performance. This includes the bearings within your hubs, though they should be fine. Just check that your wheels keep rotating freely for a while when you spin them up a bit. The longer they keep turning, the better. The most important part to check is the chain, it may have become a single piece of rust in the meantime. Usually, a few drops of oil and a bit of spinning should get the chain flexible again, but a high humidity environment may have killed it. Bottom line: The exact amount of maintenance needed can only really be judged by looking at your bike itself.

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