Winter Cycling: Your aluminum bike vs. road salt
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  1. #1

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    Winter Cycling: Your aluminum bike vs. road salt

    Ithaca, NY saw its first snowfall of the year, but that won't keep me from cycling. The question is, can my bike take it?

    Are there are any post-ride things I can do minimize the impact of road salt on my aluminum bike?
    cycling saved my life.

  2. #2
    Not a rocket surgeon.
    Reputation: tihsepa's Avatar
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    Same as anything else. A good washing, with soap.

  3. #3
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    VERY IMPORTANT to clean very well...aluminum and salt create a chemical reaction which will corrode the aluminum.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by kahn011
    Ithaca, NY saw its first snowfall of the year, but that won't keep me from cycling. The question is, can my bike take it?

    Are there are any post-ride things I can do minimize the impact of road salt on my aluminum bike?
    Paint or powder coat is a very good barrier to salt. Don't worry. If you a have bare steel clamped to bare aluminum and get salt water in that area, you can get rapid corrosion, but if you get salt water on painted aluminum you wonn't have any corrosion.
    Lugged Steel Treks

  5. #5
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    Depending if your seatpost & stem is alloy & not carbon, then I recommend that you use anti-seize compound on them or otherwise they will seize with corrosion. Grease doesn't cut it especially if you ride in winter.

  6. #6
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    Salt and aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Reynolds531
    Paint or powder coat is a very good barrier to salt. Don't worry. If you a have bare steel clamped to bare aluminum and get salt water in that area, you can get rapid corrosion, but if you get salt water on painted aluminum you wonn't have any corrosion.
    That's true, but any place there is a penetration of the paint (like at water bottle mounts) you run the risk. I know it's a relatively extreme case, but year-round commuting in mid-Michigan with a Cannondale resulted in a lot of bubbled paint and corrosion after a few years. I didn't wash the bike after every ride, so that aggravated the problem.

  7. #7
    Festina Lente'
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    Salt... ie Chlorine will induce corrosion in almost any metal.

    That said, however, I would worry more about the steel components that are on your bike rather than the Aluminum frame. One thing aluminum does well is oxidize. All metals will form an oxide layer when exposed to oxygen virtually instantaneously, but aluminum and magnesium will form hydrated oxide layers that are on the order of hundreds of times thicker than the oxide layer that forms instantaneously upon exposure to oxygen. This layer also takes time to build up.

    Anyways.... why do I mention that? Steel does not form a hydrated oxide layer, therefore in my opinion it would be more susceptible to deleterious corrosion from road salt.

    In all honesty. As a metallurgist.... I would ride my beater through the salt. Hose it off when I get home, and not worry about it too much.
    "Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise." -Von Braun

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