How to Keep a Bike From Rusting Outside

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If you’ve ever left your bike outside and come back to find it full of rust, you know how frustrating that can be.

It seems like no matter what you do, your bike just can’t stay safe from the elements.

The best way to keep a bike from rusting is by keeping it dry. Water is the main culprit of rust because it causes the metal to oxidize. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that causes the metal to break down and become weaker.

Photo of a part of a bike with rusting handle

In this article, we will discuss a few methods that you can use to protect your bike from rusting. We will also provide some tips on how to clean and maintain your bike so that it stays in good condition for as long as possible.

Let’s get started!

How to Keep Your Bike Protected From Rusting Outside

1. Invest in a Water Resistant Bike Cover

One of the best ways to keep your bike from rusting is by investing in a water-resistant bike cover.

The best bike covers for outdoor storage are made from materials that will repel water and keep your bike dry.

You can find these bike covers at most bike stores or online.

Make sure to cover your entire bike, including the pedals, when you’re not using it.

This will give your bike the best chance of staying dry and protected from the elements.

If you live in an area with a lot of rain or snow, you may want to consider investing in a cover that is specifically designed for extreme weather conditions.

These covers are usually made from heavier-duty materials and have additional features like taped seams and venting to prevent moisture buildup.

2. Check Your Bike for Moisture After Riding

Even if you have a water-resistant cover, it’s important to check your bike for moisture after riding.

This is especially true if you live in an area with a lot of humidity or are cycling in a variety of weather conditions.

Use a clean cloth to wipe down your bike, paying special attention to the areas where water can collect, like the frame, wheels, and drivetrain.

The sooner you can catch these areas of pooling water, the easier it will be to prevent rust over time.

3. Use a Bike Shed

Photo of a man moving a bike into the shed from outside

A bike shed is smaller than a traditional shed and is usually made out of weather-resistant materials such as wood, plastic, or metal.

This is the ideal storage solution for a bike because it will protect your bike from the elements while still allowing you to have easy access to it.

It will also help with theft and you can even use the shed to store your additional biking supplies such as helmets and tools.

When choosing a bike shed, make sure to pick one that is large enough to fit your bike and has adequate ventilation.

You should also look for a shed that comes with a floor so that you can keep your bike off of the ground.

Bike sheds come in a variety of sizes, so you can find one that will fit your bike and your outdoor space.

They are probably going to be more expensive than other options in this guide, but are a high-quality solution for those looking for the best way to keep their bike from rusting.

4. Try a Tarp

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, a tarp is an excellent choice. Tarps can be found at most hardware stores and come in a variety of sizes.

When choosing a tarp, make sure to pick one that is large enough to fit your bike and has grommets or D-rings so that you can secure it in place.

You can also use a tarp to create your own bike shed by draping it over a frame or structure.

This is a great option if you’re looking for a temporary solution or don’t have the space for a traditional shed.

To secure the tarp, use bungee cords, rope, or straps to tie it down.

Make sure the tarp is tight so that it doesn’t flap in the wind and create an opening for moisture to get in.

The tarp is extremely portable and can fit in a bag, so it’s a great solution for covering your mountain bike while on the go in nature or your road bike while traveling.

Just make sure to bring a bag you don’t mind getting wet for when you’re ready to pack the wet tarp up.

5. Get a Tent

A bike tent is a great way to keep your bike protected from the elements when you’re not using it.

Bike tents are typically made from a similar fabric that camping tents are made from and can be easily set up in your backyard or garage.

Some benefits of this tent are that it’s lightweight and easy to move, it won’t take up a lot of space, and it will keep your bike clean and dry when you’re not using it. It functions similarly to a shed but with much less expense.

You can find bike tents in a variety of sizes, so make sure to pick one that will fit your bike. Another thing to consider is the height of the tent.

If you have a tall bike, like a mountain bike, you’ll want to make sure the tent is tall enough so that you can fit it inside without touching the tent walls or ceiling (this causes leakage in the rain).

6. Place Your Tent Under an Awning

Try to store your bike in a covered area like a garage, shed, or carport.

If you don’t have access to one of these, placing your tent under an awning can give your bike some protection from the elements.

This can make a big difference when there’s cold weather or a rainy season. It may not be as water-resistant as some other methods mentioned, but it can make a difference overall while allowing you to store your bike outside.

You should take some time to wipe it down every day or two if you’re leaving it in a semi-exposed environment like this.

That will ensure that any moisture that does get to it will be less likely to cause rusting.

7. Grease Your Cables and Chains

A hand holding a bottle of oil while squeezing it out into the chain of the bike

One way to prevent your bike from rusting is to regularly grease your cables and chains.

This will help to keep moisture out and prevent the build-up of rust.

You can find bicycle grease at most hardware stores or online. Make sure to read the instructions on the package so that you know how often to apply it and how much to use.

A popular brand is the Phil Wood Tenacious Oil. You can use just a little of the Phil Wood waterproof grease to create a natural barrier against water and rust.

Pedro’s Chain Chain Lube is another well-respected brand.

You can also try using WD-40 to protect your bike from rust. WD-40 is a multi-purpose product that can be used for a variety of things, including lubricating and protecting your bike from rust.

Just make sure to wipe off any excess WD-40 so that it doesn’t attract dirt and grime.

8. Keep Your Tires Inflated

Keeping your tires inflated is important for a variety of reasons, one of which is preventing rust. When your tires are low on air, they can rub against the metal fenders and frames of your bike, causing friction.

This can lead to the development of rust over time. Inflating your tires to the correct pressure will help to prevent this from happening.

You can find the recommended tire pressure for your bike in the owner’s manual or on the sidewall of the tire.

Checking and inflating your tires regularly is a good way to prevent rust and keep your bike in good working condition. Try to check and fill them at least once a month.

Check them once a week if you ride your bike on a daily basis.

9. Make Sure Your Seals Are Secure

One way to keep water and moisture out of your bike is to make sure the seals are secure. This includes the seal around the bottom bracket, headset, cable housing, and hubs.

If any of these seals are loose or damaged, water can get in and cause rusting.

You should check the condition of these seals regularly and replace the rubber parts if necessary. mountain bikes that are in newer condition probably won’t need their seals replaced as often.

You can check the condition of your seals by looking for cracks, leaks, or anything that looks damaged. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can take your bike to a local bike shop and they can help you out.

10. Use a Seat Cover

Another way to keep your bike from rusting is to use a seat cover. This will help to protect the seat from the elements, including rain, snow, and sun. It will also help to keep your tushy dry.

Seat covers come in a variety of materials, including plastic, nylon, and neoprene. They typically have a drawstring or Velcro closure that helps to keep them in place.

You can find seat covers at most bike stores or online. They’re relatively inexpensive, so they’re a good way to protect your investment.

What to Do if I Left My Bike in the Rain?

A wet handle of the bike

If you left your bike in the rain, the most important thing to do is get it out of that environment as soon as possible.

If there truly isn’t a place to put the mountain bike inside, buying a cheap tarp or asking your neighbor for one will be the easiest and cheapest way to reduce the impact of the rain.

Let’s say you left the bike outside overnight and the rain has stopped, but the bike is still wet. You will need to get to work on it as soon as possible to prevent rusting.

Start by wiping down the bike with a clean cloth. If you have compressed air, use it to blow out any water that’s in the crevices of the bike.

Once you’ve done that, apply a light layer of oil or grease to the bike. Try out one of the great bike lube options mentioned above or use whatever you have on hand.

The sooner you’re able to work on the bike, the better. Leaving it wet for too long can cause rusting and other damage.

How to Remove Rust From My Bike

If your bike has already developed rust, you’ll need to remove it before it causes further damage. The best way to do this is with a wire brush.

Start by scrubbing the affected areas with the brush. If the rust is stubborn, you can use sandpaper or a file to remove it.

Once you’ve removed all the rust, wash the area with soap and water to remove any debris.

Once the area is clean and dry, apply a light layer of oil or grease to prevent future rusting. You can find wire brushes at most hardware stores or online.

What About Indoor Bike Storage?

Indoor bike storage is one of the best ways to keep your mountain bike from rusting. Unlike storing your bike outside, you won’t leave your bike exposed to direct sunlight, strong winds, water, or theft.

Store your bike inside if you have enough space to do so. If you’re unsure whether or not you have the space for storing a bike, here are some good storage ideas that can help you utilize a small space.

Storing your bike in a garage is another good option. This will protect your bike from the elements and keep it out of the way.

Just make sure to clean your bike before you store it so that any dirt or grime doesn’t cause rusting.

Here are some easy ways to store your bike indoors for better rust resistance and safety:

  • Make room in your garage for your bike
  • Hang your bike from the ceiling
  • Store your bike in a closet
  • Put your bike on a shelf
  • Invest in a bike stand
  • Buy a foldable bike

These are just a few of the many ways you can keep your bike inside if you don’t have a ton of space. And if you’re crafty and know some carpentry, you can even build your own indoor bike storage!

How To Store Your Bike Securely Outside: Preventing Theft

A bike with chain lock and securely tied in a post outside

One major drawback of outside bike storage is the possibility that someone may steal your bike. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to take some security measures.

The first step is to invest in a good lock. You should get a U-lock or a chain lock that’s made of tough material. This will make it more difficult for thieves to break through.

You should also consider locking your bike to a solid object. This could be a bike rack, a fence, or even a tree. By doing this, it will be more difficult for thieves to take your bike and make off with it.

Another good security measure is to use a locking cable. This can be used in addition to a U-lock or chain lock, and it will help to secure your wheels.

Locking cables are typically made of steel or Kevlar and they can be wrapped around

Your bike is an investment, so you want to do everything you can to protect it. Remember that investing in protective gear will cost you way less than buying a new bike.

The Bottom Line

Keeping your bike from rusting doesn’t have to mean purchasing an over-the-top outside bike storage solution. There are plenty of reasonable options that can extend the life of your bicycle indefinitely.

How have you dealt with rust on your mountain bike? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy riding!

A photo of a blue colored bike against a wall with text overlay that reads How to Keep a Bike From Rusting Outside

About Emma

Hey there! I'm Emma. When I'm not wrangling kids I like to walk aimlessly around hardware stores and watch HGTV for hours on end.