There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Storing your bike for winter is hard, emotionally. All the memories you’ve made together come rushing back. Berms, drops, bridges. There have been ups and downs, but you’ve ridden through it all together. That’s true companionship!
Luckily for you, the logistics of mountain bike storage are pretty straightforward. There’s a temptation to just stash your bike for a few months after your last ride of the year, but not so fast! Follow these steps to make sure your bike has a cozy hibernation and is ready to rip come springtime:
Clean ’er up!
This one’s a no-brainer, but thoroughly cleaning your bike before a few months of storage is absolutely essential. There’s no better feeling than hopping in a hot shower after a muddy ride, and trust me, your bike is equally appreciative of a little scrub-a-dub. Thoroughly clean the drivetrain, lube and wipe the chain, and take care of any mud or dust that’s built up anywhere on the frame.
Go the extra mile
If your mountain bike is high-end, and you’re the sort of person who’s ripping trails multiple days a week, it’s definitely worth considering taking your bike to a shop for a pre-storage tune-up. I prefer to have my suspension serviced, swap in a fresh chain, and have cables and brake pads replaced when I’m done riding for the season. That way, my bike’s ready come springtime. Plus, I’m able to avoid the waits that come with busy bike shops in the spring, while supporting my LBS when they could probably use a little extra business.
Don’t store your bike upside-down. It’s hard on hydraulic systems, and as you probably already know, anything involving hydraulics ain’t cheap. Inverting your bike can cause hydraulic fluid to leak or let air bubbles in the brake system travel to the brake pads, which can leave you with unresponsive brakes when it’s time to ride in the spring.
While you’re at it, make sure you also don’t store your bike with the dropper post down. When the post is dropped, air pressure is up to 3x greater, and it puts undue pressure on internal seals.
If you have a hanging setup that suspends your bike off the ground, you’re made in the shade. If not, consider that your tires will lose PSI over the course of the winter, and you don’t want your rims resting on the ground. So, make sure to keep enough air in your tires during storage.
Keep it safe!
We all have space limitations, but if at all possible (especially for folks in extremely cold climates like us in Minnesota), bringing your bike inside for winter is never a bad idea. A bike’s components don’t love sub-zero temps any more than you do. Not to mention that storing your bike in the garage is always going to carry a bit more security risk than bringing it inside. Also, if your bike’s inside, it’s that much easier for you to stare longingly at it, and whisper sweet nothings to it.