A woman on her indoor bike trainer watching her tv during a workout.

Tips to Care For Your Bike While Riding Indoors

Whether you’re a pro cyclist or ride for fun and fitness, bike care and maintenance should be a regular part of your cycling routine. Without proper maintenance, you could easily face expensive repairs or deal with poor-quality rides due to issues with your bike. 

First, let’s take a closer look at why regular bike care and maintenance are necessary. Then, we’ll dive into some specific ways you can maintain your bike.

Why are regular bike care and maintenance essential?

Bike tool kit.

Outdoor cyclists regularly ride their bikes through rain, dirt, mud, and other elements that can cause corrosion and performance issues. As a result, bike care is essential to ensure a safe and productive ride every time. However, if you only cycle indoors, you might think you’re exempt from bike care or maintenance tasks. After all, how much damage could indoor riding really do to your bike, right?

In truth, riding your bike indoors can be just as hard on it as riding outdoors. Much like the outdoor elements, your corrosive sweat can take a toll on the condition of your bike, and if you ignore regular bike maintenance, your bike is much more likely to break down on you or perform poorly

It’s safe to assume that you want the best riding experience every time you hop in the saddle. So, to prevent future issues and protect your investment, follow these tips and keep your bike in excellent shape!

1. Wipe your bike down after each training session.

Woman wiping down her hands with paper towel.

You might think you only need to wipe down your bike after a tough training session, but in reality, it’s best to wipe it down after every single ride. Salty sweat can be bad for certain parts of your bike, and you’re bound to produce quite a bit of it if you’re riding hard! Plus, forgetting to wipe it down can cause rust buildup, which will affect its performance and looks. To prevent any long-term damage to your bike and trainer, you should wipe down your bike with a clean wet towel and a mild bike cleaner immediately after you finish your ride.

2. Deep clean once a month.

Woman hosing down her bike outside.

In addition to wiping your bike down after each training session, you should also deep clean your bike once a month. The best way to do this is to take it off its perch inside, remove the wheels, and wash it off outside with a hose. No special soap is needed! Simply use dish soap and a gentle cloth or sponge to clean your bike. Repeat this process once every four weeks to ensure your bike stays clean and in tip-top condition.

3. Use a sweat cover to protect your bike.

Woman sweating about to wipe away the sweat off her face.

Aside from cleaning your bike regularly, there’s also something you can do to keep your sweat from running down all over it while you ride. A sweat cover is a specialized product for cyclists that stretches all the way from your handlebars to your seat tube (the bar that runs directly beneath your seat down to your pedals). It protects your bike from damaging drops of sweat by absorbing them instead of allowing them to drip down into the more sensitive parts of your bike. You can purchase a sweat cover online or at your local bike shop. Wash it regularly to keep it from getting really grimy.

4. Degrease and lube your bike chain.

Man holding bike chain.

Caring for your bike’s chain is extremely important because it makes the drivetrain (all the parts you use to push or pull the bike along) function. To keep your chain in the best shape possible, you should lubricate it regularly and ensure it’s free of dirt and grime buildup. Apply a thin coat of any bike chain lube, and then shift your bike through all its gears before wiping the chain down with a clean cloth. Just make sure you don’t apply too much bike chain lube because an excessive amount could attract more dirt, dust, and grime to your chain.

5. Change your handlebar tape frequently.

Man adding new handlebar tape to his bike.

If your bike has an aluminum handlebar, sweat and moisture can build up on it over time, which may corrode it and cause aesthetic or performance issues. Combat the corrosion by wrapping your handlebars in moisture-resistant bar tape and replacing it once a year. You can even replace the tape more often if you need to. Draping a towel over your handlebars while you ride is another great way to prevent unnecessary wear and tear or damage.

6. Give your tires some TLC.

Man pumping his back bike tire with air.

Frequently riding on a wheel-on trainer or rollers can wear down the tread on your tires, making your bike feel strange or flat when you take it outside on the concrete for an outdoor ride. To avoid this, keep your tires inflated to the maximum recommended pressure. Or, invest in bike trainer tires, which are heat resistant and smooth to grip the metal of the barrel roller better. You can find specialty indoor bike tires online or at local sports shops or bike shops.

Bonus tip:

Close up of a floor fan.

As you can see, many of the potential performance issues listed above are related to the corrosive qualities of your sweat and its impact on your bike while you ride. Another great way to protect your ride is to use one or two fans to cool yourself off while you ride indoors. A fan can help wick sweat away from your body (and your bike) and keep you cool while you ride. Try positioning one fan to face the front of your body and another to face your back so you can more easily stay cool, even on the toughest indoor rides.

Key Takeaways:

Maintaining your indoor bike probably isn’t the most fun part of your indoor training experience. However, the routine maintenance tasks will eventually become second nature. As a result, your well-maintained bike is more likely to last longer, perform better, and continue looking its best!

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