How to store a bike outside

How to store bikes outside

After a day of cycling fun, some people enjoy the privilege of storing their bike in their extra space in the garage or an extra room in the house.

However, some people are not able to enjoy this luxury. 

If you’re one of those people, you may consider your options to be limited. You probably don’t want the inconvenience of renting a storage unit or keeping it at a friend’s house.

This article is here to help you figure it out.

What are the risks of storing your bikes outside?

People shy away from storing their bikes outside because of the risks that come with it.

Some of these risks are as follows

1. Theft

The first and main reason why it is risky to store your bike outside is that statistics of bike theft are extremely alarming.

According to Project 529, which is one of the most reputable bike registry companies, close to 2 million bikes go missing every year in the United States.

This figure does not even account for unreported cases, and only five percent of these bicycles are recovered by authorities.

With these statistics, storing a bike outside with no additive measures is certainly not a risk you want to take.

2. Rusting.

Most modern bikes of good quality are made up of alloys of titanium, steel, aluminium and carbon fibre composite for more resilience.

Steel is mostly used in the frame, chain and bolts while aluminium is mostly used in the bicycle frame, seat stays, pedals and handlebars. 

As resistant as these metals are, they are still prone to rust. 

From your basic science knowledge, metals rust due to exposure to a mixture of oxygen and moisture. The process is also accelerated by saline conditions and high temperatures. Leaving your bike outside for a while exposes them to these elements.

Metals used to make bikes

Aluminium is safe from rust because of its Aluminium oxide coating, but it is not safe from corrosion.

Titanium is also mostly rust-resistant because of its oxide layer- but will still be penetrated by the elements via small openings.

Steel will also rust if there is prolonged exposure to rust-favourable elements.

Not only is rust an eyesore, it affects the moving parts of the bike which by proxy affects movement of the bike. Rust that goes beyond surface level can cause parts of the frame to be destroyed completely

3. Degradation

Leaving your bike outside for a day or two probably won’t drastically affect your bike, but if you are always leaving your bike out in the open, you are likely to notice changes in different parts of the bike.

If your bike is out in the sun during summer for an extended period of time, parts of the bike made up of rubber and plastic will become weak.

When tyres are exposed to excessive sunlight, there is increased internal pressure which causes them to either burst or be worn down. Worn down tyres are dangerous because they affect your ability to turn and brake. 

Sunlight also makes the paint colour of your bike fade over time.

In winter time, the moisture and humidity affect the bicycle seals and affect their ability to avoid corrosion. Now that the components that were protected by the bike seals are exposed, the rust and corrosion will affect the bike’s performance.

Now that you are aware of the risks, let’s get into some solutions.

how to store a bike outside

If you have no room in the house and you have space outside, you can keep your bike in the backyard, the garage, a terrace, or even the patio.

If you are not able to use any of the above for one reason or the other, you also have the following options:

1. Bike anchor or post

There are bike anchors that can be fitted to either a wall or the floor. These anchors are very difficult to remove. Good quality ground anchors start at around US $30.

Some good ones include:

1. Oxford Products Task Force Ground/Wall Anchor Kit

2. Burg Wachter Sold Secure Bike Chain, Lock and Ground Anchor Kit

If you do not want to purchase any of these, you can use any post or railing that is immovable. Remember to use a bike lock for extra security. You can even go the extra mile and use more than one so that you lock the wheels as well.

2. Bike tents

Bike tents are a great investment for bike storage because not only do they protect the bike from rain, snow and the sun’s harmful UV rays, they are portable and durable.

The only downside to this option is that it is costly.

Some highly rated bike tents on Amazon are the Prolee Bike Tent 210D and the CLOCLO Bike Shed Storage.

3. Bike covers

This is a cheaper alternative to buying a bike tent. Bike covers are very durable and reliable for shielding the bike against harmful elements. 

A great example is the Oxford Aqua waterproof bike cover and the CyclingDeal bike cover.

A good substitute for bike covers is using a tarp or a plastic bag that is big enough for a bike.

You can also use bike seat covers to protect your saddle against damage caused by moisture entering through small cracks when it is humid outside.

Some of the best bike seat covers are from Zacro and Cevapro and they cost around $20.

4. Bike bunkers.

These are metal hangars that have enough space to hold sometimes three or even up to six bikes. Some cities have small companies that construct them for nearby local residents to store their bikes in at a fee.

If you have such a service in your area, it is a good idea to consider.

5. Storage Sheds

This is for homeowners or people with a lot of yard space.

Purchasing an outdoor garden storage shed is definitely on the pricier end, but these sheds are made to be both water and UV-resistant, and they are very durable and easy to use and lock.

Storage sheds will also class up your garden or yard, and can be used to store other supplies other than your bike.

A great option is the Keter selection of outdoor garden storage sheds.

If you want an insect or rodent-proof option, plastic sheds are the way to go.

How to prepare the bike before storing it outside?

Once you have decided on a method of storage, you have to be aware of how to prep and maintain it in storage.

Clean and dry the bike

First, you should clean your bike properly and allow it to dry. You can use a damp cloth and some mild soap and ensure you are not scrubbing too hard.

Lubricate the moving parts. 

If you intend to keep the bike at bay for a long time, you should make sure that you do not return to an old-looking rusty bike. Use grease on the moving parts and if you want to go the extra mile, use bike protection spray.

Inflate your tires. 

If your tires are deflated your rims will get in contact with the ground and become spoilt.

Lock your bike. 

To ensure your bikes are safe from thieves, whichever measure you take to store your bike should be accompanied with a good quality lock.

Frequent checking. 

Don’t forget your bike when it is in storage. You should always check the tyres, the bike seals and the gear and brake cables. Replace anything that is worn out and remove any indications of rust.

To remove rust, you can use steel wool, foil or even your old tiny toothbrush with a paste made of white vinegar and baking soda. You can also use WD-40 or industrial rust removal acids. 

Be careful when using these acids because they are highly corrosive.

Frequently asked Questions.

Which is the best way to store your bike outside?

If you can afford it, a storage shed is the best option.

Sheds provide versatility and will guarantee the protection you need.

If you are more pressed for cash, go with bike covers or floor anchors.

Will insurance still cover my bike if it goes missing while stored outside?

If you decide to get an insurance cover for your bike, read through the fine print to see if they will cover you.

Some comprehensive covers will take care of your bike no matter where you store it, but some insurance companies consider separate outside storage too high of a risk.

How to store a bike outside if you live in an apartment?

There are a few options for storing your bike outside if you live in flats or an apartment.

You can store it slightly hidden underneath the staircase or in the apartment basement storage. If you choose any of these options make sure you lock your bike and check on it every now and then.

Another solution is to store it in a local bike shop which provides storage services at a fee.

Final thoughts

Storing your bike outside is not ideal, but it is still possible thanks to the options listed above.

I hope that now you can make an informed decision and remember to take care of all the necessary equipment so that you only buy them once.

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