How to: Waterproof your Bike on the Cheap
Pittsburgh in winter in definitely not bike-friendly. Snow, ice, and salt are all enemies of the bike. The first two can be overcome with the help of better riding techniques and ice tires, but the third brings up categorically different problems.
Salt is a steel bike frame’s worst enemy.
I built my bike for free at FreeRide. Unfortunately, the only frame available that fit me was almost completely sanded down. This presents a problem because metal without a finish + salt = rust! (Yes, rust factorial). I plan on painting my bike, but I won’t be able until the summer when paint will actually dry.
The problem: rust. The solution: electrical tape.
First, you’ll want to put a couple rounds of electrical tape over any brake-line holders you may have on your bike. This is just to make sure no salt or water gets in through any gaps that may arise because of the bumps.
After you’ve covered the brake-line holders, you can now proceed to covering the frame with electrical tape. You will probably want to cover the top tube first because it’s the easiest. Start from one end and do a couple of loops before beginning the wrap. You’ll want to make sure the tape lays flat on the tube. Electrical tape is great because it has a certain degree of stretchiness which will help keep a nice flat surface. You will want to overlap the tape about half the width with each turn.
Once you’ve done the top tube, go ahead and continue with the rest of the frame. I would recommend removing your tires and chainring before taping the frame because it makes things a lot easier. Unfortunately, I did not have the tools available to do so.
The finished product:
As you can see, I didn’t cover the head lug because it was really more pain that it would have been worth and every try came out looking bad.
- Isolate the frame as much as possible, it’ll make things easier to tape
- Wipe down the frame with a rag beforehand
- To get tape residue off when you decide to paint, I’d recommend Aircraft Remover