When the Iron in Steel is exposed to Oxygen and moisture, it results in a form of corrosion we call rust. This process is known as Oxidising. If you live in an area where salt is common, either from being nearer the sea or if your local council are particularly fond of putting it down on the roads in Winter, this can cause rust to become even more prevalent.
With bicycles, rust is more common in budget frames and components because they are frequently made from Steel and sometimes the Steel isn't as high a grade as is found in more expensive parts. Higher end bikes now tend to have frames and components made from Aluminium and Carbon Fibre so there aren't as many components prone to rusting, however chains are usually still made from Steel so there is still a chance that rust will occur.
How to remove rust from a bike
There are a few ways to try and remove rust from a bike, so here is a quick guide of things you can try:
1. Try rubbing rusted Chrome parts gently with crumpled Aluminium foil, like you find in your kitchen. You don't need to rub very hard as it is actually the heat generated in the process rather than the brute force that is responsible for the rust removal. The heat causes a chemical reaction with the Aluminium which breaks down the rust. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
2. Use a fine Steel wool, available and a lot of hardware shops, to gently rub the rust off the components. Be careful not to rub too hard or to use a coarse wool as it may damage the surface of the component. It is also advised that you wear gloves for this as the fine strands of wool can be painful on skin.
3. Rub or soak components in White Vinegar. The acetic acid in the vinegar helps to break down the rust, allowing you to wipe it off. You could use this in conjunction with the steel wool, but be careful not to damage the original surface you are attempting to clean.
4. Mix some baking soda with water to form a paste and then apply it to the rusted surface. Again, this can be combined with rubbing the surface with Steel wool or Aluminium foil for maximum results.
If you wish to add protection to Chrome components going forward, try using a chrome polish to provide a barrier to the elements.
Hopefully this article has helped inform you how to remove rust from a bike, although sometimes it's better just to admit that it is too rusty and replacing the part altogether may be a better option. If you have any further questions, please get in touch with us, here.