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I moved to an area where the street outside my residence has a 60 mph (100 km/h) speed limit.

Not safe to ride even on the gravel emergency lane.

I can not bring my bike inside, so it is outside.

I cover it with a tarp. The winds seem insistent on blowing the tarp off.

I am on a cattle ranch, so there is plenty of dust swirling around.

What can I put on the chain and gears to slow down the rusting?

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  • Are there storage sheds on this cattle ranch?
    – Criggie
    Jan 8 at 0:21
  • Here in Austria and most of Europa a 100km/h speed limit is the default on roads outside of settlements. Is your fear of riding on that road really a rational one?
    – Michael
    Jan 8 at 7:55
  • @Michael The roads are very hilly. When going up a steep hill, drivers can not see far ahead. They would have little time to react to a cyclist.
    – fixit7
    Jan 8 at 13:53

2 Answers 2

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You cannot stop rust and corrosion in these conditions, best you can do is slow it down.

Wash the bike regularly - the dust attracts and holds onto water. By cleaning the bike you remove a big contributor to it staying damp and corroding. After washing (and ideally drying) the bike, you should spray the metal components (except brake discs/ rims depending on your brakes) with something like WD40 (WD stands for Water Displacement). You then lube the chain. I would use a wet lube.

For covering the bike, you either need to store it somewhere where it is dry or make certain it has plenty of airflow to let it dry when it gets wet. If possible, do you have space for a bike shelter or shed, (Several questions on this site already - e.g. Minimum dimensions of bike storage shed might be helpful). If you have to use a cover, a fitted cover would be best. I know people who have had success with BBQ covers.

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  • I am hesitant to wash my bike regularly. Water can get into places and cause even more corrosion. WD40 may be an option, but it is very thin. By wet lube, can you be more specific. @mattnz
    – fixit7
    Jan 8 at 0:10
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    Not washing the bike will cause more corrosion than washing it. I am not suggesting pressure washing. Soapy water (car 'wash and wax' is ideal) followed by a very low-pressure hose down will do no more than a ride in the rain. Dry off with a towel and leave in the sun/wind to dry if possible. "Wet lube" is an oil (use bicycle specific one), as opposed to "Dry lube" which dries out but still lubes (usually teflon or wax based)
    – mattnz
    Jan 8 at 1:43
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    @mattnz: A bit of dust on the surface won’t cause any issues. It’s also not where corrosion is going to cause damage. Where corrosion is really nasty is inside components: Frame, steerer tube, seatpost, bearings. And of course on the drivetrain since it’s usually made of steel alloys which are susceptible to corrosion.
    – Michael
    Jan 8 at 7:58
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    @Micheal Dust contains salts that are corrosive and encourages retention of moisture, resulting in cosmetic corrosion. Good point on frame corroding indie. Using products like Framesaver is well worth considering for a bicycle stored outside to protect (as much as possible) the internal corrosion. How big the problem depends heavily on the climate, industrial pollution in the air and use of salt on winter roads.
    – mattnz
    Jan 8 at 8:11
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Put some (wet) lube on the chain and sprockets. Make sure the tyres don’t go flat.

Protection from the rain would be nice but most components of decent quality shouldn’t be too susceptible to corrosion.

Your biggest enemy is probably UV light from the sun which will destroy plastics and rubbers.

Edit: If you want to spend some effort – assuming you have a metal frame – I’d make sure that the seat post, pedals and bottom bracket (and quill stem if you have one) are installed with plenty of grease so they don’t corrode and seize up. Some grease on all the small bolts (e.g. for the bottle cage) wouldn’t hurt as well. If the bike was assembled by a halfway decent mechanic (and not too long ago) this should already be the case and you don’t have to bother. Also make sure your frame has a drainage hole under the bottom bracket and it’s not obstructed. You could also protect the saddle with a plastic bag.

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    +1 for the pragmatic answer - really depends whether you want to keep the bike as pristine as possibly or just the key components alive to keep it ridable. The approach above is pretty much how I keep my commuter alive being parked outside: Just lube the chain appropriately, the painted alloy frame is fine but cheaper metal parts like handlebars and the rear rack inevitably draw surface rust. Cables might also corrode but I think you're usually good with regular service/replacement.
    – DoNuT
    Jan 8 at 12:59

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