Neil’s right: rust never sleeps

There’s a sad rule of thumb with bike ownership – the more you clean them, the more it rains.

rust-by-Elsie-esqNeil Young had it right, rust never sleeps. While we collapse, cozying up to our hot-water bottles after another rain-soaked, windswept ride, our ferrous-equipped bike bits are under attack.

Slowly but surely, the chains that turn our wheels and the bolts that secure our bars are succumbing to the powers of nature as the ruthless combination of salt and water set to work.

It’s a silent menace, more keenly felt by those who ride their bikes every day through rain, shine, snow, hail and wind because, at the end of the day, thawing out fingers and toes is far more pressing a concern than lubing a chain.

As a result of all this, through the dark winter months, most people can hear me coming. I’m the annoying one who, although flying by in a blur due to my almost inhuman speed, is making quite a lot of noise. My gears are clicking and jumping; each pedal stroke offering an industrial-style, grinding symphony. Even my bottom bracket is beginning to protest, giving me a knock every two pedal strokes out of three as a constant reminder that it needs some TLC.

It’s quite a cacophony – the noise of rusting metal grinding grit, salt and grime against rusting metal is only slightly drowned out by my own curses at a) the weather and; b) the awful racket being produced by my bike.

But here’s the thing. There’s no point in trying to fight it anyway.

The reality is that the more you clean a bike, the more it rains; the more effort that’s put into maintaining a beautifully pristeen, smooth-gliding cover bike, the more the weather Gods look down and laugh, finding light relief in your desperate, fruitless efforts at bike maintenance.

Better just to forget about it and put up with the noise.

Of course, I’m aware that this will get the bike lovers out there utterly outraged. Riding a rusting bike is sacrilege, tantamount to negligence, heresy even. 

I tend to agree. But until somebody invents a self-cleaning bike with rust-proof components, I’ll be the noisy one flying past in a blur.

David Rae

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  1. After last week’s ride home in filthy weather, this morning I cruised in and noticed that it wasn’t the Brick-Lane-Market-MTBs causing the squeaking and rattling. It was my own gleaming (muck-spattered), state of the art (a few years ago), lightweight, fast (though not with me on it), pride and joy.

    The gears weren’t even changing properly, and it dropped its chain. For shame.

    This can not be tolerated. Tomorrow, it will have the wash of its life.

  2. You’re a better man than I. My weekend will be spent propping up bars; rather than bikes. Saying that, I will have to service my bottom bracket. So to speak.

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