When you put something away for an extended period of time, you usually need to make some preparations to ensure it stays in mint condition while it isn’t being used. Is this also the case with the tires of your bicycle?
There’s no need to let the air out of bicycles tires for storage. The only exception to this rule is if you live in a hot climate and the tires are at max pressure, in which case you want to deflate them a little so they don’t burst.
As a matter of fact, it’s best to leave some air in the tires and store your bike in a particular way. All tires go flat from sitting, no matter if they’re brand new or worn out, as air molecules slowly but surely escape through the porous rubber tube and/or carcass.
Read on to find out the best way to store your bike for the winter, a long vacation, or a work or study trip abroad.
Deflating Bike Tires for Storage: Yay or Nay?
As we’ve already touched on, you don’t need to deflate the tires of your bike if you have to put it away for a long time.
Contrary to what some people think, the air won’t damage the tires if it stays in; it will actually protect the rubber of the carcass and inner tube from deformation and pinching by the rim.
The best way to store your bike for a long time is to hang it up on wall hooks. This ensures that no pressure is put on the wheels from the combined weight of the bike and the pull of gravity.
If you don’t have wall hooks, you can consider turning the bike upside down. However, only do this if it won’t damage the handlebar or the gear shift and brake levers. And never turn your bike upside down if it’s fitted with hydraulic brakes; air bubbles can enter into the hydraulic liquid tank or the tubes and cause issues.
Another way to hang the bike upside down is to install ceiling hooks. Once again, you don’t want to do this with bicycles with hydraulic braking or suspension systems, especially for prolonged periods of time.
If you cannot hang the bike, leaving some air in the tires (for example, 10-20% less than the maximum tire pressure) should help to provide a cushion effect that will protect the bike wheel rims from being damaged.
You probably want to consider topping the tires up every 2-3 weeks so that they don’t go flat and deform from sitting.
When Should You Let The Tires Down for Storage?
This is unlikely in winter, but if you are going to be storing your bike somewhere hot, you should let a bit of air out of the tires before you put the bike into storage. This is because the heat will cause the air inside the tires to swell, and this could cause the tires to rupture.
It’s therefore a good idea to remove the air caps and squeeze the valves to bring the pressure down to 10-20% less than the manufacturer’s recommendation before you store the bike. But don’t let too much air out, or the bike will end up resting on its rims and deforming the rubber.
This may seem excessive, I know, but you’d be surprised what heat and sunlight can do to an otherwise good pair of tires in the sweltering summer season.
Do You Need to Blow the Tires Up Before Storing the Bike?
If you aren’t hanging the bike up, you want to check on the tire pressure and top them up in case they’re running low on air. No need to pump it up fully, but making sure there is a good level of air in it will keep the rubber from deforming and degrading during storage.
Whether or not you pump the tires up before storage, make sure you do so when you take the bike out of storage—before you ride it. They will have gone down, even over a fairly short period of time, so this will make them safe again.
What Else Needs To Be Done Before Storing A Bike?
There are a few things you should do before putting your bike away, even if the tires don’t need pumping up. One involves making sure that it won’t be in the direct sun, as even winter sunlight will degrade the rubber and could ruin your tires.
Make sure that the tires are clean, free from debris or stones, and completely dry before you put them away. This will reduce the risk of anything reacting with the rubber and causing it to degrade while you aren’t using the bike.
Another step involves lubing the bike’s gears and chains to make sure that they will repel any atmospheric moisture, reducing the risk of rust on these parts. For long term storage, this is particularly important, as winter air can be damp.
Next, cover your bike with a sheet or waterproof cloth to keep the dust off it. This will help to prevent any dirt from getting into the mechanics of the bike, and should mean that it is fine to ride when you get it out of storage. You can get a tarp for your bike, or just toss a cloth of any kind across it to protect it.
You should protect your bike from extremes of temperature, either hot or cold, as both will damage the rubber and could ruin your tires by causing them to expand and contract repeatedly.
No, you don’t need to deflate your bike’s tires before you put it in storage… unless, that is, you expect the bike to get very hot. In such a case, let a little air out to keep them from bursting.