I just read that the average cost of a bike is around $500.  If you’re like me, your bike is more than just a mode of transportation—it’s a way of life.  Keeping that “two-wheeled friend” in good shape outside, especially over the winter will pay dividends during the cold months.

I’ve been there, and I’ve learned a thing or two about bike storage that I’d love to share with you.

A bad bike storage example
A bad bike storage example

Bracing for Winter: What Your Bike is Up Against

Winter can be tough on bikes. The cold, moisture, and salt can lead to rust and corrosion, damaging your bike’s components.

Plus, if you’re living in a city apartment or a college dorm, space is often at a premium, making bike storage even more challenging. And let’s not forget about security—unfortunately, a bike sitting outside can attract the wrong kind of attention.

DIY MTB Tip: One of the most popular articles on this website is 👉 Bike Maintenance and a Tune Up Schedule

Winterize Your Bike: A Step-by-Step Guide

Scrub your bike clean before storing
Scrub your bike clean before storing

Step 1: Cleaning Your Bike: Start by giving your bike a thorough clean. Use a soft brush and soapy water to remove any dirt, dust, and grime that has accumulated over the riding season. Pay special attention to areas where mud or road salt may have built up, as these can cause corrosion. Rinse your bike thoroughly and let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Loosening the Mechanisms: Next, you’ll want to loosen all the mechanisms that have springs. Release the brakes and shift the chain to the smallest and lowest sprockets. This reduces tension on the components during storage. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can even remove the chain entirely.

Step 3: Reducing Pressure, Now it’s time to reduce the pressure in your shock absorbers and tires. However, don’t let all the air out of your tires—you want to avoid having your bike standing on its rims. Just a bit of pressure reduction will do.

Recommended Bike Cover: For under $20 you can get a bike cover that will protect your bike and integrate lock holes for security. Seriously recommended, shortcut link to Amazon for more 👉 Puroma Bike Cover for Outdoor Storage

Step 4: Choosing a Cover or Storage Shed: Depending on your available space, choose a good quality bike cover or a bike storage shed. These will protect your bike from the elements and help prevent rust and corrosion.

Step 5: Securing Your Bike: Finally, secure your bike with a sturdy lock. Even if your bike is stored in a relatively safe place, a good lock can deter potential thieves and give you peace of mind.

By following these steps, you’ll ensure your bike is well-prepared for winter storage, helping to prolong its lifespan and ensure it’s ready to ride when the warmer weather returns.

DIY MTB Pro Tip: One of the couple of things that can extend your bikes life is proper lubrication. I’ve got the complete guide 👉 Bike Grease, Lubricant’s and Where to Apply

Things You Might Need to Store Your Bike

MTB Tools I Love and Recommend

Bike Hand Repair Stand
Bike Hand Repair Stand
Bike Hand 37 pcs Tool Box
Bike Hand 37 pcs Tool Box
Topeak Smartgauge D2 Air Pressure
Topeak Smartgauge D2 Air Pressure

I own each of these tools and only recommend things I own and use.

  • Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand.  Nice mountain bikes don’t have a kick stand so keeping your MTB safe but conveniently stored is essential.  I keep my bike on my stand whenever I’m not riding it.  This makes it easy to lube the chain, inflate the tires and adjust the derailleur.  Highly recommended – Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand (👈 Link to Amazon to see what thousands of others have said)
  • A basic MTB toolbox for replacing a chain, adjusting brakes and dialing in the fit.  Bike Hand has a 37-piece box that has most of the specialty bike tools to keep your MTB properly maintained.  The Bike Hand brand is value packed for the avid rider.  Check out the competitive prices with this link to Amazon 👉 Bike Hand 37 pcs Bike Repair Tool Kit
  • Get a good air pressure gauge, if you get just a tiny bit serious about MTBing you’re going to start playing with tire pressure.  A couple psi can make your tires sticking or not.  Get a good gauge, I highly recommend the Topeak Smartgauge D2, it’s accurate, flexible and easy to use.  An Amazon best seller, here’s a link 👉 Topeak Smartgauge D2
  • Carry a multitool with you on every ride.  I’m serious, most of the time you can MacGyver something to get back to the trailhead if you have a multitool.  I’ve got the Crank Brothers M19, it’s worn, rubbed and abused – but it still works.   Thousands sold on Amazon – check it out with this link 👉 Crank Brothers M19

Tools and Equipment:

  1. Cleaning supplies: Bucket, Soap, Soft brush, Drying Towels, and Wax
  2. Air pump: To keep your tires properly inflated.
  3. Bike lock: To secure your bike and deter potential thieves.
Preparing to store your bike outside clean dry wax and lube
Preparing to store your bike outside clean dry wax and lube

Parts and Materials:

  1. Tarp, Cover or Plastic Drop Cloth.  Some plastic shopping bags are great for added seat protection.
  2. Bike shed or Bike tent: If you have enough space, these can provide excellent protection from the elements.
  3. Lubricant: To keep your bike’s chain and other moving parts well-lubricated.
  4. Rust preventative: To protect your bike’s metal parts from rusting.
  5. WD-40 or similar: To remove any signs of rust and protect your bike.

Important Tip: Avoid Oils and Greases on Brake Parts

Remember, never apply oils or greases to your bike’s brake parts. These substances can reduce braking power and create safety risks. Always keep your brake discs, pads, and rims clean and free from lubricants. Safety first!

DIY MTB Pro Tip: Salt is your bikes enemy. Read how to deal with it in this article 👉 How to Protect your Bike from Salt

Finding the Perfect Winter Home for Your Bike

Depending on your available space, choose a good quality bike cover or a bike storage shed. These will protect your bike from the elements and help prevent rust and corrosion.

Finally, secure your bike with a sturdy lock. Even if your bike is stored in a relatively safe place, a good lock can deter potential thieves and give you peace of mind.

Mastering the Art of Bike Storage: Techniques You Need to Know

Storing a bike in the trunk of a car
Storing a bike in the trunk of a car

When it comes to storing your bike, positioning is key. I always lean my bike against a solid surface like a wall or fence. Trust me, your bike will fall over if it’s just resting on its kickstand, especially on uneven ground.

Covering your bike is also crucial. I’ve used everything from dedicated bike covers to tarps and even plastic drop cloths. The key is to make sure it’s waterproof and securely fastened so it doesn’t blow away on windy days.

DIY MTB Pro Tip: Is a bike Okay in the rain? Short story, I don’t do it, but read this to find out more 👉 Can Your Bike Get Rained On?

Keeping Your Bike Happy in Winter: Regular Checks and Maintenance

Even during winter, your bike needs some TLC. Regular checks and maintenance can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems come spring. I make a point of inspecting my bike every few weeks, looking for signs of rust or other damage.

And here’s a tip: don’t let your bike sit idle all winter. Take it out for a spin on dry days. Not only does this keep the metal parts moving and helps prevent rust, but it also gives you a chance to spot any issues early.

Spring Awakening: Getting Your Bike Ready for Warmer Days

When the weather starts to warm up, it’s time to get your bike ready for riding again. Give it another thorough clean and check all the components for any damage.

Don’t forget to re-inflate your tires and lubricate the chain and other moving parts. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than being ready for your first spring ride only to find your bike isn’t!

Lubricate Bike Chain
Lubricate Bike Chain

Think Outside the Box: Creative Bike Storage Ideas for Winter

If you’re looking for more creative ways to store your bike during the winter, here are some additional ideas that might work for you:

  1. Under the Bed or in a Closet: A bike can be packed down into a small place if you disassemble some items. Under a bed or in a closet can be a great out-of-the-way spot to store your bike. It’s dry, temperature-controlled, and won’t take up any additional space in your living area.
  2. Disassemble the Bike: By removing the wheels, handlebars, and pedals, you can significantly reduce the size of your bike, making it easier to store in a closet or even under a piece of furniture.
  3. In the Trunk of Your Car: With that disassembly, I talked about, a bike can easily fit in a trunk.  I remember one winter I stored both a motorcycle and a bike in my van.
  4. Use a Bike Hanger: Bike hangers can be a great solution if you’re short on floor space. They can be mounted on a wall or ceiling and can keep your bike safe and out of the way.
  5. Bike Storage Services: Some bike shops offer storage services. They’ll often include a tune-up as part of the package, so your bike will be ready to ride as soon as you pick it up in the spring.
  6. Ask a Friend: If you have a friend with some extra garage or basement space, they might be willing to store your bike for you. Just make sure it’s a secure and dry location.
  7. Under a Raised Deck or Porch: These outdoor spaces can provide shelter from the worst of the winter weather, while still allowing you to keep your bike outside.
  8. Consider Asking Your Landlord: Most apartments need to maintenance items, if you have a friendly relationship with your landlord they might store your bike for you.

Remember, the goal is to keep your bike dry, safe, and secure. So, get creative and find a storage solution that works best for you and your living situation.

With your bike clean lubed locked and covered your ready for the elements
With your bike clean lubed locked and covered your ready for the elements

Wrapping Up: Your Bike’s Winter Journey

Storing a bike outside in the winter might seem daunting, but with a little preparation and care, it’s totally doable. I hope these tips help you keep your bike in great shape over the winter, ready to hit the road or trail as soon as spring arrives.

Remember, a little effort now can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Happy cycling!

Looking for Some More Ways to Help Your Bike Last


David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or making YouTube videos at 👉 DIY Mountain Bike Read more about David HERE.