Learn How to Remove Rust from Bike

Like any other steel or metallic item, your bike can also develop rust on various parts – from the handlebars to the chain.

While this may seem like a huge problem and you may be tempted to take your bike to a professional for rust removal, you can deal with this issue yourself in a few different and easy ways.

In this article, we will explain how to remove rust from bikes and how you can prevent rust from developing in the first place.

What to Use to Remove Rust from Bike?

There are a few different things that you can use to remove rust from bikes, whether it’s a mountain bike or a road bike. Some of them are good for minor rusts, others for stubborn rusts. Some are better used on certain parts of the bike. In any case, try these things out:

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a mild cleaner that won’t damage your bike parts, if you use it correctly. It works best on minor rusts, so it’s important to use it regularly to prevent stubborn rusts that have to be removed with stronger cleaners.

To use baking soda, you first have to mix it with water to create a thick paste. The mixture should contain an equal amount of water and baking soda, but you can add a bit more baking soda for stubborn rusts. You can also add a bit of lemon juice to the paste to improve the strength of the paste and use it on bad rusting.

You can apply the paste to remove rust from bike parts using a spatula, a brush, a sponge, or any similar tool that will allow it to put the paste directly on the rusted areas. Leave the paste for 15-20 minutes before you scrub it off with scrub pads or a sponge. A toothbrush or a plastic scrubber will also do the trick.

If you don’t see a change after you remove the paste from the bike, repeat the process with a bit more baking soda or lemon juice added to the mixture. Once you are done, make sure to dry off your bike completely to prevent further rusting.

Vinegar/Coca-Cola

As we already mentioned, removing rust from a bike can be done with things you have in your household, like vinegar or Coca-Cola. Using vinegar or cola on rust can be very effective since they are acidic enough to break the rust down.

One of the possible ways to use them is to spray the bike with a spray bottle. Don’t mix vinegar or cola with water – just add one of them into the bottle and spray the rusty areas. Use a toothbrush or another similar tool to scrub the rust off, but cover it in tinfoil first to make it more effective.

If the rust isn’t coming off, you can also add a bit of baking soda into the spray bottle to make the solution stronger. However, don’t add too much of it or the solution may become too strong and damage your bike.

Another way to use vinegar or Coca-Cola is to soak your bike parts in them. Of course, this requires a lot more product and the solution stays too long on the bike it can corrode the metal. The key is to let the bike parts soak for 10 minutes, after which you should rinse them thoroughly with water.

Chemical Rust Remover

Using chemical rust removers is usually not necessary unless you are struggling to remove rust from your bike with other methods. If that’s the case, you can get a chemical rust remover at most hardware stores and get to work.

The most important thing here is your safety since it’s not the same when you work with household items and chemicals. Since chemicals can be dangerous, you need to wear gloves and glasses when you work with them. It is also advisable to use a chemical remover in an open area, or at least an area with sufficient airflow.

Take a brush to apply the chemical remover to the rusted areas. How long will the remover remain on the bike depends on the product, so read the instructions before applying. Once the recommended time has passed, use a cloth to wipe the remover off the bike and safely dispose of it. The last step is to wash your bike with warm water and dry it off completely.

Removing Rust from Different Parts of the Bike

We’ve talked about possible items that you can use to remove rust from your bike, including triathlon bikes, but let’s take a closer look at each individual part and how to remove rust from them.

How to Remove Rust from Bike Chain

Rusty old bike chain

To remove rust from bike chain, it is best to use just oil, or at the most a bit of lime juice. Don’t try to remove rust from the bike chain with vinegar, Coca-Cola, or a chemical remover. Usually, the combination of oil, light rag wiping, and some riding, is enough to take care of minor rust.

However, if that’s not enough, use lime juice and lubricant by following these steps:

  • Step One: Check the entire length of the chain for grime or dirt. You can do this by lifting the rear and spinning the foot pedal in a backward motion, slowly.
  • Step Two: Wipe the dirt with dry rags and brush off any grime with a bristle brush or a toothbrush. It’s best to use brushes of different sizes to reach all areas of the chain. Once the dirt is removed, you will be able to see any rust more clearly.
  • Step Three: Use a steel scouring pad dipped in lime juice to scrub off the rust. If there are more stubborn rust stains, remove the chain link and soak it for an hour or two in a bowl of lime juice. Once the time has passed, dry the chain link with a rag before you put it back on the bike.
  • Step Four: Add a couple of drops of lubricant or oil to the chain and slowly spin the pedals to make sure it’s spread evenly. Let the lube sink in, then wipe away any excess.

How to Remove Rust from Bike Frame

cleaning of the bike frame with a cloth

Removing rust from a bike frame is simple and you can use any of the materials that we mentioned before, like baking soda, vinegar, or a chemical rust remover.

  • Step One: If you are using baking soda, prepare the paste by mixing it with water in the 1:1 ratio, as we explained before.
  • Step Two: Use a brush or a sponge to apply the paste evenly over the entire bike frame and let it sit for about 15 minutes to break down the rust.
  • Step Three: With a steel or plastic scrub pad remove the paste off the frame. If the rust is not completely broken down and removed, add a bit more past and keep scrubbing with increased intensity.
  • Step Four: Remove all the remaining baking soda paste with a dry rag and store your bike in a dry and cool place to prevent additional problems with rusting.

How to Remove Rust from Handlebars

To remove rust from the bike’s handlebars, it is best to use a mix of lemon juice and table salt. Here’s how:

  • Step One: Mix 5-6 tablespoons of salt with 2 spoons of lemon juice. Stir the mixture with a spoon until you get a thick paste.
  • Step Two: Apply the paste to the metallic parts of the bike’s handlebars, but make sure that they are evenly coated and that the paste is thick enough to prevent dripping. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Step Three: Remove the paste and scrub the rust off with a toothbrush, but try to use a few different motions while you do it to be more effective. You can also try a clean cloth if you don’t have any success with a toothbrush.
  • Step Four: Once you remove the rust, rinse the handlebars with water and then dry them off with a dry rage.

You can keep the rust off your handlebars in the future by polishing it regularly with was.

How to Remove Rust from Bike Rims

Bike rims may be a bit tricky to clean and remove the rust, so it’s best to use aluminum foil and degreaser, like this:

  • Step One: Separate the tire, inner tubing, and spokes from the rest of the wheel. This will leave you with just bike rims.
  • Step Two: Dip the aluminum foil in degreaser and let it soak for 5-10 seconds. Use the soaked foil to scrub around the bicycle rims and try not to miss any spots with rust. Do this until all rust is broken down and fallen off the rims.
  • Step Three: Wipe the rims clean with a dry rag, and then apply some was on them to prevent further rusting.

How to Remove Rust from Bike Spokes

When you separate parts of the bike’s wheel to remove rust from bike rims, you can also check the bike’s spokes and clean them as well. Here’s how:

  • Step One: Put some elbow grease on steel or brass wool pad, and then rub each spoke with it. You can also take a pinch of steel wool to rotate it around the difficult spots.
  • Step Two: Rub the spokes until the rust breaks down. If necessary, use more force for those stubborn stains. Use fresh parts of the pad when the steel wool starts to fall off.
  • Step Three: With a dry rag wipe off any loose rust stains and stuck pieces of wool from the bike spokes. Once they are clean, apply a bit of wax over them, but make sure to wipe any excess away.

How to Remove Rust from Chrome Bike Parts

Some bikes also have chrome parts. Now, it’s important to note that chrome doesn’t rust. In fact, chrome plating is mostly used because it is resistant to corrosion, among other things. Chrome can oxidize over time, but it doesn’t rust like metal.

However, you may see rust if there is any steel beneath the chrome plating and if the chrome plating is damaged enough to let the water in. If this happens, you will most likely have to replace the chrome plating. But there is a way to salvage the situation and prevent it from getting worse, if you catch the pitting and some light rust early.

  • Step One: Wash the area thoroughly with soapy water and access the damage. If there are flakes present, use chrome polish to protect the surface from further pitting. However, if the flakes and chips on the chrome plating are too big or numerous, it is best to re-chrome that bike part or buy a new chrome plating. If the damage is small, proceed to the next step.
  • Step Two: Rub the area with aluminum foil and some water. Try to rub it as gently as you can to avoid any damage to chrome plating. You can also use cola instead of water, but it might make the process messy and leave you with sticky plating that may be tricky to clean.
  • Step Three: Rinse and clean the bike part. You may need to repeat the entire process a few times, including rubbing with the foil, if there are some stubborn bits of pitting.

How to Prevent Rust on Bike Parts

Preventing rust on bike parts is the most efficient way to deal with corrosion. Even if you already have rust on your bike, you should focus on prevention once you remove it. So, here are a few tips on the matter:

Keep Your Bike Dry at All Times

The main reason why your bike starts to rust is moisture. So, you should focus on keeping your bike dry.

First of all, it’s best to store your bike indoors. For example, you can store it in your home’s entry or in a garage, especially if the garage is HVAC-enabled. In any case, the most important thing is to keep the bike out of the elements.

If your bike gets wet while you ride it (if there’s rain or snow), make sure to give your bike a thorough and complete wipe-down with a dry rag. The entire bike should be dry, especially shiny parts like the chain, brakes, and other moveable components.

Finally, you should also be aware of your own sweat, which can also cause rust if it drips on your bike and you don’t dry it off. Especially vulnerable are handlebars, as well as the bike’s stem and parts around the head. So, dry these parts off as well after a ride.

Keep Your Bike Oiled

Bike chain oiling

It is important to keep your bike oiled to prevent rust. Keep bike oil within reach and give your bike a good lube on a regular basis. That includes the bike chain and other moving components, as well as those parts that are usually exposed to the elements.

After you oil the part, wipe it down with a rag. Enough oil will remain on the part, but you will remove any excess oil this way.

Conclusion

The best way to keep rust away from your bike is prevention. Keep your bike dry at all times and store it away from the elements. You should also keep the bike oiled to prevent corrosion.

However, if your bike is already showing a bit of rust, you can easily remove it with baking soda, vinegar, Coca-Cola, or a chemical remover. We hope that our article was helpful and that you know how to remove rust from your bike now.

About The Author

Vladimir Kovacevic

Vladimir is a former journalism student and an active freelance writer. He has a lifelong passion for sports, especially soccer, basketball and tennis. His basketball playing days ended after high school but he still likes to play hoops with his friends. Vladimir also likes to ride his bike at some of the most popular green areas in Belgrade, Serbia.

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