When it comes to giving your bike a good clean, salt isn’t the answer. Salt can be found in various products that aren’t designed for cleaning bikes, such as washing-up liquid, which can rust the bike.
The problem with rust is that it’s almost impossible to cure on a bike. A bike needs to be well-maintained and cleaned regularly to prevent rust from building up, as this will affect the quality of your bike.
Once the rust gets into the chains or bike spokes, your bike will begin to slow down as the rust stiffens.
Products that contain salt like washing-up liquid are a great way to clean the frame of your bike to provide a shiny look. However, if this isn’t washed away properly, the salt will linger and develop into rust.
Cleaning Your Bike
If you use washing-up liquid or dish soap to clean your bike frame, you must rinse it properly.
It’s so easy to assume that lathering your bike with suds and bubbles will provide a clean and shiny surface, but you must use these products sparingly. Like salt, bikes cannot handle much water, either.
The best way to clean your bike frame is to rinse the mud and dirt off with a gentle stream of water from your garden hose.
Then, use a damp cloth to both dry the frame and wipe away any lingering dirt.
You don’t need products to make the frame shiny - although there are some available.
Sure, you can use a bit of dish soap to clean the frame, but just make sure to rinse the frame thoroughly afterward to prevent the salt from rusting your bike.
How bad is salt for a bike?
The problem with salt is that it naturally attracts moisture. Too much moisture can lead to rust. Therefore, salt can be bad for your bike if it is not removed properly.
When cleaning your bike, you must rinse it thoroughly throughout the cleaning process. This is because some products such as dish soap contain salt, which can linger if it hasn’t been washed.
Dish soap and a cloth are often recommended to clean the frame of the bike, but most times you will only need to wipe the frame down with a damp cloth.
If you choose to use dish soap as well, you must rinse the bike thoroughly to prevent salt from lingering. You should use a gentle stream of water from a garden hose to do this.
You can get a protective coat of paint or another product that will help to prevent rust, but this doesn’t mean you can freely use products that contain salt to clean your bike.
To be on the safe side, you should avoid any salt-based chemicals.
Wet road salt, likewise, can attract moisture which keeps corrosion active. If you find yourself cycling in wet road salt, you must clean and rinse your bike thoroughly afterward.
After rinsing your bike, you must allow it to dry properly. Any water that lingers in crevices and holes also has the potential to damage your bike, such as the bearings, which will ultimately affect the performance of it.
Is road salt bad for bikes?
Yes, road salt is bad for bikes in the same way that it is bad for motorcycles, cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
Salt is a corrosive substance that naturally attracts moisture, which causes rust. A rusty bike isn’t a healthy bike.
Road salt, whilst great for preventing vehicles and bikes from sliding around on slippery surfaces, can get into crevices, holes, and every nook and cranny possible in a bike.
Whilst you might assume it will only affect the wheels, the salt will splash onto almost every area of the bike.
If this happens, you must rinse your bike thoroughly.
Road salt can linger on a bike for quite some time, so make sure to rinse every area with a gentle stream of water from a garden hose. This is to prevent rust from occurring.
Once you have rinsed your bike thoroughly, you must also allow it to dry. To do this, you should leave it outside to air dry and wipe it down with a dry cloth or rag.
A wet bike is a moist bike, which is also a haven for rust.
For extra protection, you can seal the bike with wax or a protective coat of paint to protect the crevices from harboring salt and water.
In general, you should avoid cycling on road salt.
Will salt rust my bike?
Salt attracts humidity which then activates corrosivity - which we all know as rust.
Bikes that are exposed to salt without treatment will inevitably rust.
This is because the chlorides in salt will attract and combine with water, which then creates an electrolytic coating that turns the oxygen in the water into corrosion.
The metal on the bike then converts into metal oxide, which is rust.
The key to treating a rusty bike is prevention. If you find yourself cycling amongst road salt, or perhaps you have used cleaning products that contain salt, you must rinse your bike thoroughly.
Salt will get everywhere in your bike - from the chain links to the pedals to the bearings - which can make finding and treating rust a nightmare.
You must rinse your bike with a gentle stream of water from your garden hose after it has come into contact with salt to prevent rust from building up.
You shouldn’t use a power washer, as the high-pressured water will damage the wax and grease of the bike.
Protective wax and grease are designed to act as a shell against rust. However, this doesn’t mean your bike is invincible against salt and rust, because this isn’t a risk you should be willing to take.
A rusty bike won’t only perform badly, but it will look awful, too.
For the maintenance and longevity of your bike’s lifespan, you must make sure to clean it from salt to prevent rust from damaging it.