Even though it’s common knowledge, I’d like to tell you again that a bike’s major composition is made of steel alloys. The handlebars, chains, and the entire structure are made of iron and steel. This composition does wonders in durability and sturdiness, but the only downside is that it can rust pretty quickly.
To remove rust from a bicycle, use baking soda and white vinegar. Make a paste out of the baking soda and white vinegar, and apply it to the rust. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then wipe off with a damp cloth.
Iron starts to rust when it comes in frequent contact with air. This is perhaps one of the biggest cons of iron-structured products like bikes.
To lengthen their life, you’ve to be very careful where you keep them and follow particular steps to remove rust from the bicycle.
Read on to learn the steps to remove rust from a bicycle.
Is Rust on a Bike Okay?
No, rust on a bike is not okay at all. For starters, a rusty bike chain can seriously hold you back, not look its absolute best, and may even cause a serious hazard for the rider, like the chain displacing from its location and resulting in a big fall.
The chain is also one part that’s the quickest to rust and one that’s greatly affected once the rust has been deposited there.
Other than this, it can also corrode the spokes, preventing the bells from working. Overall it has the potential to affect the structural integrity of your bike.
Undoubtedly, rust is not good for your bike and is not okay either. Seeing the damage it can cause, you shouldn’t try to take it lightly rather you should do your best to protect your bike.
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What Causes Rust on Bikes?
The first and most obvious reason for a bike rusting is lack of care. Failure to maintain your bike can result in rusting. If we look at it from a scientific point of view, rusting is a process known as oxidation. When 3 elements, iron, water, and oxygen, come in contact with each other, rusting takes place.
You must be wondering that not all bikes have iron and some have aluminum instead, so what happens to them?
Here’s the thing, many bikes do end up rusting if left in the open air for prolonged periods. So it’s not strictly just iron.
As long as your metal doesn’t have a protective covering to prevent the air from reacting with the metal, it is going to rust.
Lubricate the Chains With Chain Oil
The good news is, if the rust is only on the chains, then there’s still hope for your bike. This is mainly because you can easily fix your bike’s chains with just a bit of oiling. All you need to do is get a good lube, wipe it gently with a cloth, and you will be able to remove the top rust layer with ease.
You will need high-quality chain lube to do so, it’ll surely save your bike from deteriorating.
Oiling your chain can be tricky since you need a lot of patience. The trick is to make sure you get every link and wipe it with a cloth later. This is what will clean it in the first place.
Aside from just the regular lube, you can also use wax and paste options. These are good for when you’re indoors and do not want oil spills to tend to.
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5 Ways to Effectively Remove Rust From Your Bike
In order to scrape off a bit of rust, you shouldn’t compromise the bike’s look. Ruining a bike’s finish is much worse than getting it all rusty. Rust can be removed and prevented, but a bad finish that’s irreplaceable.
So you should keep your bikes clean and ensure they’re not rusted. How can you do that, you ask?
Well, there are many products and methods you can use to prevent damage and keep your bike rust-free.
Let’s talk about them.
#1 Use Baking Soda
If I talk about cleaning methods, it’s only fair I begin with the classics. So, here I will recommend using baking soda.
To anyone that’s ever owned anything, you might have probably used baking soda to clean it at least once. Baking soda is not only the most reliable method, but it’s also the oldest in the book.
It’s a mild cleaner, so it won’t ruin anything, and it’s home-based, so you don’t need fancy products. The way this works is by forcing the rust to fade away quickly. Over time, it will come back, but you can periodically clean it to prevent rusting.
Here’s how to use baking soda to clean off rust:
- Grab equal parts of baking soda and water and mix them in a bowl. There are no specifics to this as long as the amounts are proportionate. You can eyeball the amount and estimate how much you may need.
- Keep mixing the slurry until you end up with a thick paste.
- Add additional baking soda if you think you need more paste, and to heighten the mixture, even more, add a few drops of lemon juice.
- Next, you can take the paste you’ve made and apply it to all rusted areas. To apply, use a sponge or spatula to press down the mixture onto the affected areas directly. Then let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
- After the baking soda has been set for a good while, then it’s time to remove it. Use a scrub for this and have a go at it. The more force you use, the more it’ll come off
And that’s how you can easily remove rust from baking soda. When you scrub the bike with the mixture on, you’ll notice that the rust starts to come off, and you’ll see your once shiny bike back in shape.
After you’ve successfully removed all the rust on your bike, rinse it off with water and dry it completely so no more rusting takes place for the time being.
#2 Vinegar or Coca Cola
The next method is also a pretty common way, which is using vinegar or coca cola. Both of these have shown to have strong acetic properties, which can easily break down rust.
What’s great about this method is that there’s more than one way to use it. The way you apply your liquid is totally up to what you find more efficient.
First, you can use it as a spray.
This is maybe the easiest since all you have to do is wear your gloves and add some vinegar or cola into a spray bottle. After that, just spray it on the affected areas and use a toothbrush in order to scrub the rust off.
This is a relatively nicer method since you can use as much or as little as you want. Plus, you can always have a bottle on the go!
Another way is to add baking soda to either of the liquids. This is for when the rust isn’t coming off the bike; adding baking soda can enhance the effects and help remove rust from your bike.
Last, you can also directly dip your bike parts in the vinegar/cola and let it set. This would require more product, but it’s a good and lazy way to get the job done.
#3 Use a Steel Wool
A weird method to remove rust, but if you haven’t used it already, you should definitely get on the steel wool use. They’re perfect companions for removing rust. What’s great about a ball of steel wool is that you don’t need any solvent to clean it with.
You can directly use it on your bike and make strong circular motions to scrape the corrodent off. However, if you do feel that the rust is too stiff, then you can use baking soda or a chemical remover, whichever one you have available.
#4 Use Aluminum Foil
If using a ball of steel wool was weird to hear, then aluminum foil will blow your mind. Aluminum foil is actually an amazing way to remove rust from metals.
Aluminum foil has the property to dissolve chemical oxides, so it can dissolve the rust that’s developed.
As you know, rust is also another name for iron oxide, therefore, wiping aluminum foil over the rust-infected areas will leave you with a clean, rust-free surface.
#5 Chemical Rust Remover
Finally, using a chemical rust remover is also a good option. This is very concentrated and is mainly for the hardcore rust situations where the homemade DIYs just cannot help.
When you have trouble removing the rust with natural products, only then use only a chemical remover. Since we are dealing with strong chemicals, it’s of utmost importance that you do not mix it with other solvents and don’t come in direct contact with the mixture.
When applying, use an old toothbrush and dip it to scrub the rust-infected areas with your chemical remover.
Note: You should read the instructions before starting since some of the manuals ask you to leave the applied solvent overnight. For the best results, it’s only appropriate that you follow what’s in the guide.
After the recommended time has passed, wipe the chemical remover off with a cloth and make sure you leave no spots.
As a precaution, it is necessary to have gloves on even while removing the chemical. After you’ve cleaned it, store it in a dry place to keep it safe.
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5 Ways to Prevent Your Bike From Rusting
Using baking soda, chemicals, and the hassle of cleaning the rust can be avoided if you just take a little precaution in handling your bike.
With a little upkeep, it is not very difficult to save your bike from rusting. Here’s how you can prevent your bike from rusting in a few easy steps.
#1 Keep It Indoors
The first and foremost important thing is to keep it indoors. It is honestly the best way to keep your bike safe from moisture and inevitable rust. Keeping it indoors will keep it dry and away from the corrosive elements.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly rust can develop when it is kept in the outside environment.
#2 Keep It Covered If Outside
On the other hand, if you don’t have a shed to keep your bike in, then the next best solution is to keep it under a cover.
You can easily do a makeshift cover outside in a tiny place with an old cloth over your bike or tie it securely if you’ve found the perfect little spot to do so.
#3 Always Wipe It After Rain
Secondly, if you live in an area where there’s a lot of rain, then wiping your bike after the rain is a must. This is also the case if you ever ride a bike during a rainstorm.
In that case, you should make sure to wipe the bike once you’ve arrived and completed your route. The best way to wipe your bike clean is to take an old rag and give your bike a good, hard wipe.
The only catch is to make sure it is completely dry. After all, your bike shouldn’t go anywhere near wet clothes. Make sure you wipe the important parts, such as the chain.
This is usually where rust usually deposits, so keeping it dry should be your top priority.
#4 Keep It Oiled
Every bike owner should have a handy bottle of lubricant with them at all costs. This could be stored in their garages or taken with them on biking trips. But its presence is vital.
By oiling your chains and practically anything that moves, you’ll prevent it from wearing out and developing rust.
Since oiling makes a layer of insulation between the atmosphere and your bike parts, it’s less likely to be affected by the reactions and won’t get oxidized.
#5 Clean After Hauling It
The routes you take aren’t the cleanest. All that gravel, sand, and tiny particles can damage your bike big time. Especially if you take your bike on a car track, then the dirt just increases tenfold.
Therefore, when you ride on such tracks, clean them after so there are no corrosive elements left on the bike.
Lastly, tune-ups are great for both the overall condition of the bike and for preventing rust. Getting a chain change or having a deep clean can protect your bike from harmful corrosives.
The farther your bike is from such harm, the better.
» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: (Average Cost): How Much Is a Bike Tune-Up? – Bicycle
Removing rust is almost as easy as developing it in the first place. If it takes half an hour for a patch of rust to develop, then it’ll take you only 20 minutes tops to clean it.
Although the mere concept of rust can be a bit of a pain, knowing that it is just as easy to get rid of it is a relief. The best advice would be to prevent your bike from any corrosives in the first place, but it is never that easy.
So, just remember this article and whip out your baking soda and get scrubbing!