The Effects Of Road Salt On Your Bike

The Effects Of Road Salt On Your Bike

If you’ve ever lived anywhere that receives significant snowfall, ice, or sleet at some point during the winter, you’ve definitely seen the trucks that make their way up and down the roads, spreading salt to give better traction to the cars passing by.

This salt can certainly be a godsend at the time for anyone trying to get around on slick roads, but when the ice and snow begin to melt, the salt still maintains a large presence for days.

Plenty of you are already aware of what the salt can do to your car’s undercarriage, but what about a bike?

Road salt can have some pretty harsh effects on your bike on more ways than one. If you can’t avoid riding when the salt is still out on the roads, you need to be prepared for giving your bike some special attention afterwards to avoid both short and long term damage.

Curious as to what you can do? We’ve got you covered.


The salt left on the road doesn’t necessarily have to be on its own to cause damage. In fact, most of the salt that ends up on your bike is mixed in with the dirty snow, slush, and water that you ride over.

Once the water dries, the salt goes to work on crucial components, and can end up causing some damage, sometimes in ways you won’t notice for awhile.

Your chain takes the brunt of it, along with the rest of your drivetrain.

The chain can get dry, with the salt added a corrosive element that can make it’s way through your derailleurs as well. Suspension systems can get damaged, and so can your cables.

Putting salt on the roads.

In some cases, the salt can cause corrosion and rust on your frame -- and you may not see it until it’s too late.


The first thing you’ll need to do is rinse your bike off, gently. Since it’s winter, odds are your hoses are put up for the season, so you can either bring water outside to pour on your bike, or you can go all-in and take the bike into your shower, if it’ll fit.

After rinsing, use a damp rag and go over the cables, chain, wheels, drivetrain components, and any exposed screws on the bike, wiping away and would-be salt that’s lingering. Give the frame a good wipe down as well.

Once the bike dries, lube your chain and then add a small amount of lube to your cables and screws.

how to lube a bike chain

It’s important that you don’t wait to do this, as the longer your bike sits, the longer the salt has to get to work. Stop it beforehand.


Road salts are a necessary evil during and after winter weather events. Aside from not riding, there’s really no way for your bike to avoid it. All you can do is react, and be vigilant in ensuring your bike is clean and salt-free after riding on treated roads. By following the simple steps above, your bike will be just fine.

This post was last updated on June 5th, 2018 at 02:15 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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