Rust on your bicycle doesn’t just look ugly: over time it can eat away at the metal and lower the value of your bike. Fortunately, you can protect your bike from rust and remove it if you find it. Rust, or iron oxide, occurs when iron or an iron alloy is exposed to moisture and oxygen over a period of time. When oxygen and moisture are exposed to iron for an extended period of time, a compound called an oxide forms and weakens the metal. Not only is rust ugly, but it can degrade the components of your bicycle.
How to Avoid Rust
You can avoid rust and corrosion by protecting your bike from moisture. Remember that the two important components in creating rust on metal are moisture and oxygen. You don’t have much control over preventing oxygen from reaching your bike, but you can keep moisture off it. Bicycles stored outside will inevitably get a lot of moisture on them. Even if you remember to put your bicycle inside when it rains, it will still likely be exposed to dew and moisture if it remains outside overnight. Whenever possible, store your bicycle inside. If you are forced to keep your bicycle outdoors, put a cover on it.
Remember to wipe down your bicycle if you ride in the rain. If you ride in wet conditions, use a clean, dry cloth and wipe down your bicycle before you put it away. Also, keep your bicycle well lubricated with WD-40. This nectar of the gods is great for lubricating your chains, nuts, bolts, handlebars, and any moving parts. Some people swear by products like Boeshield T-9 to rust-proof your bicycle as it may not need to be reapplied as often.
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How to Remove Rust from Your Bicycle
Whether you are rescuing a neglected bike or time hasn’t been good to your bicycle, there are a few methods to remove rust from your bike. Rust will continue to deteriorate metal unless it is removed. Depending on the extent of the rust, removal can be a quick project or a daunting venture.
One easy way to dissolve rust is to use citric acid. Citric acid is found in lemons and limes, and has properties that dissolve rust. Apply some citric acid to the rust and scrub using a dry cloth or sponge. For more difficult areas, try using some steel wool. After you have removed the rust, make sure you wipe away any remaining citric acid as it can damage metal.
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Many people swear by the use of Coca Cola to dissolve rust. This trick works with most any soda, as it is the phosphoric acid that dissolves the rust. Pour a Coke on the rusty areas of your bicycle, allow it to sit a few minutes, and then wipe it away. A spray bottle may come in handy to apply the soda without making too big of a mess.
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Vinegar is an inexpensive way to remove rust from your bicycle. Apply the vinegar by dipping a crumpled up piece of tinfoil into a bowl of vinegar and then scrubbing the rusted areas. This provides a gentle abrasion and, when combined with the acetic acid of the vinegar, helps break down and remove rust. After application, be sure to wipe your bicycle down with a clean, dry cloth to remove any vinegar.
One product that I have heard works wonders (but I have yet to try myself) is Metal Rescue. This miracle product safely and easily removes rust, even from heavily corroded parts. The product comes as a bath that you can soak rusted parts in, but they also make a gel that can be used for difficult to reach areas.
Rusty chains are quite common, and rust on a chain can compromise its strength and integrity. Prevent rusty chains by inspecting your bicycle chain regularly for dirt or muck, and wiping it away whenever it develops. Remember to clean your chain and apply a bit of lube whenever you ride in wet conditions.
There is no reason to let rust keep you from riding your bike. Some easy fixes and a little bit of time are all it takes to get you back in action.
Rust is just a part of the riding experience, and sadly, so are injuries. If you are injured in a bicycle crash due to the negligence of someone else, contact Kass & Moses for more information on how to proceed with your claim for bicycle accident compensation. We can’t keep your bike from getting rusty, but we can work with you to get you back in bike-riding shape again after a crash!
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