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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I was recently making my way home after a ride with my bike on a hitch rack and got caught in the beginning of a thunderstorm. As typical with thunderstorms in my area, the first 10-15 minutes tend to be the most severe, with extremely heavy rain. Being on a hitch rack, my bike got the worst of the rain, being heavily soaked for 10-15 minutes.

After getting back I dried everything out to the best of my ability, but I'm slightly worried about the possible effects the rain could have had on suspension and sealed bearings (ie linkage/hubs/headset). I just recently had the suspension serviced and the hubs and linkage rebuilt, and was trying to keep the bike as dry as possible in order to prolong their service life.

Is there any preventative maintenance I should look at doing now, or should I just service the suspension/linkage a bit sooner than I originally was anticipating down the road?

Thanks.
 

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I wouldn't worry much. Clean it, dry it, Pull the seatpost and see if anything got in there, lube wherever applicable and ride. That is some nasty water coming off the road but those pivot bearings are usually pretty well sealed.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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lol, no.

I got caught in such a downpour during a ride on Sunday.

I was on a trail with lots of sandy decomposed granite, which got all over EVERYTHING. I gave my bike a light hose down when I got home to wash the grit off. Still had a bit somewhere in the headset area making noise, so I dropped my fork, cleaned out the old grease, and put fresh in. Probably just 1 or 2 little pieces in there causing all that trouble. Otherwise, the grease inside looked really good.

Dried the bike off and gave it a fresh dose of chain lube.

The water itself? Didn't cause a single problem. I did a ride a few months ago with about 15 or so river crossings and my hubs and bb got completely submerged a number of times when I was carrying it across. No problems at all.
 

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Cycologist
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Lube your chain. I got caught riding in a big downpour earlier this summer. The next week or two, I rode a different bike. When I pulled out my main bike, I discovered the chain had some rust. Lubing it and riding it seems to have knocked the rust off but next time, I'll be sure to lube it after a storm washes off all the lube.

And I'm assuming you don't have a saddle bag. If you do, be sure you remove and dry everything that's in it. I had to do that with everything in my Camelbak.
 

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Take a look at the chain. I use bar and chain oil because it's designed to stick. A drop on each roller. Let it sit and wipe excess.
Use whatever you have good luck with.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I used to encounter those downpours in AZ, it can go to 20 feet visibility max real fast. That kind of water downpour with any speed can wash grease out of bearings IME. It's not going to happen all at once, but it is going to significantly reduce your service intervals. BB, headset, pivot bearings, hubs, etc. I should have done a better job of servicing this stuff when I lived in AZ, but now I'm pretty careful to not expose the bike to any similar situations (if possible to avoid).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the advice - I did throughly dry, clean, and grease the chain and cassette after returning home. It sounds like I shouldn't be overly worried about damage, but going by a shorter service interval wouldn't be a bad idea.

How would fork/shock seals hold up to that kind of water? I know normally wetting/spraying suspension seals is not considered a good idea.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Thanks for all the advice - I did throughly dry, clean, and grease the chain and cassette after returning home. It sounds like I shouldn't be overly worried about damage, but going by a shorter service interval wouldn't be a bad idea.

How would fork/shock seals hold up to that kind of water? I know normally wetting/spraying suspension seals is not considered a good idea.
Suspension seals tend to be some of the better protected seals IME. For the most part, they are under positive pressure, which does a pretty good job of keeping water and everything else out, and of course the grease/oil in. The bearings on the bike can be affected more easily, with little bits of grease washing out, water ingesting, contaminating, causing oxidation, then little bits of metal oxide are grinding around the bearings and they get crunchy fast. It can be hard to notice this from just riding until too late, so it's good to unbolt the suspension every few months and turn the bearings by hand and see how smooth they are.
 

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It's really only a problem if riding submerged. That's when flex causes seals to separate a bit and let water and grit in. Headset, bottom bracket, hubs and pivots are well sealed these days, as long as not submerged with loads. Like everybody else has already said, lube the chain and maybe pull the seatpost if you don't have a drainage hole in the bottom bracket. Maybe spray some silicone lube in the derailleur pivots. It's salt that you need to be careful of. Road salt is terrible.
 

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Hitching a ride
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I rode through a river one time on a brand new $6200 bicycle. Since I did it once, and the other parts of the trail were flooded I said f-it and rode the whole day through low water crossings. It was a bit mental, but it was Friday and I wanted to ride and I had all of Sunday to sort out the damage. Went home, took EVERYTHING apart, I'm talking pf bb out of the bike, bearings out of the shell, seals off the bearings, bearings out of the hubs, every bearing out of the linkage, lowers off of the fork, tires and tape off the rims, etc...

Didn't find a single contaminated bearing. Seals are good these days. There was a lot of gross water in the frame and rims though.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Really, you guys freak because your bike gets wet? I love to ride in the rain (no monsoons this year so no love there) and have never worried about the bike getting wet.
No, not wet. I wouldn't worry about riding in some fairly heavy rain. Heading down the highway at 70mph in driving thunderstorm rain on the other hand...yes. It can be like holding a power-washer to your bike.
 

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I live in the PNW and ride in conditions that sound like it would make some of you freak out!

A short downpour? Dry, lube and ride. Long downpour? Same. Now, if your hitch rack was on the front of your car and you were traveling at speeds that would turn the rain drops into a pressure washer, a different story. But a rear hitch, in the relatively calm air right behind your car? No problem.

That said, there is gunk on the roads that could get washed up onto your bike, so a good rinsing is probably in order, too, or maybe a wash with a bit of soap, but no need for disassembly.
 

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No Clue Crew
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Are we really talking about rain? As in a bike getting wet?

Dude, unless it rains acid or alien blood where you are, dry the bike off, lube the chain and get on with life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It sounds like everything should be fine - I was just slightly worried due to adding driving into the equation. That said, since visibility was terrible, I don't think I got much over 30mph for most of the trip. Not exactly charging down the highway at 70. For realistic purposes it sounds like everything should be fine. Thanks for all the advice.
 

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I have had, and currently do have some bad bottom bracket bearings due to rain.

Thurs. the bike sat on my truck rack all day in the pouring rain, but trails were open Thurs. night so off I went after work, roosting mud and splashing through puddles.

Next day my bottom bracket was super stiff. I need to get it apart to see if it's salvageable. At least it moves.

-F
 

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For road trips, I've taken my bike apart and placed it in the car (for weather reasons alone). Thankfully, I recently got a topper for my truck, so I have better options. I think rain while driving (while not catastrophic) can cause water to creep into places.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I think there may be some misunderstanding as well as far as the intensity of rain. Monsoon-season thunderstorms in AZ can be extreme rain events, pouring inches of rain in a relatively short period of time, often with wind (but the car can make up for that).

I'm not saying it'll happen every time, but again, this can be akin to a pressure-washer if your bike is on the rack, I've seen it before.

Regular rain events, even on the rack, I'm not concerned. Taking it through an intense thunderstorm, which is what is happening at this time of year in AZ, that could be enough to start contaminating bearings IME.

It shouldn't be a "oh no, must stop and take apart/replace every bearing right now" situation, but do this a few times and it should definitely inspect/service these ahead of schedule. AZ is very dry, yet you'd be amazed how well bikes can trap water and have it slosh around in the BB for a few months.
 

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It's pretty common up here in the PNW, if you want to ride all year, half the time you're going to get soaked on the trail & on the way there & back.

I've gotten into the habit of pealing the dust seals off new bearings & topping them off with water proof grease on both sides and popping the seals back on prior to install. As well as smearing the outside of the seals with waterproof grease.

Typically most seals bearings aren't filled with water proof grease, or much grease at all since they are rated at 1000's of rpm. They built to have just a bit of grease to keep em moving at those high speeds without puking the grease our. Bikes need the exact opposite in their bearings, as much grease as possible to keep the water & dirt out. Sadly this means they aren't really ready for life in a mtb, with low or no rotation & a lot of water, mud, dust and more water.

Whenever I have to replace a shot bearing, looking inside it's obvious that water intrusion is the killer. Rusty grease & pitted balls. So far the topped off bearings are living a longer life than ones I haven't added grease to.
 
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