Friday, April 3, 2009

Sweat can destroy your bike.

The flow of air past your body tends to dry most of your sweat before it can drip onto your bike, but some of the sweat (and the salts suspended in it) will inevitably come into contact with the bicycle and its components. This is of particular importance when the bike is on a stationary trainer, as the wind is no longer there to evaporate the sweat.

Here we see the clamping area of an aluminum handlebar that has been eaten completely through by salt deposits and moisture from sweat. See the two dark spots? Those are where the entire wall of the handlebar has been consumed by corrosion. There is also a great deal of visible salt left over after the moisture has evaporated. This is a particularly dangerous example, as there was very little material preventing the handlebar from simply snapping off below this spot. The forces generated by a rider sprinting in the drop position of the handlebar could quite possibly have broken this handlebar off, likely resulting in a serious crash.

Solutions to this problem include regular wiping down of the bike, and the use of a sweat cover when it's on the trainer. Regular replacement of the handlebar tape can help cut down the contact of salt with the handlebar as well. Some people just have naturally more corrosive sweat than others, so be sure to stay on top of it if you are one of the people who sweat battery acid.

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