Co-Motion FAQ on Corrosion Prevention: Sweat Is The Enemy!

A new FAQ posted to Co-Motion’s website is must read for all of the Toxic Avengers out there who sweat buckets of salt laden perspiration onto their frames.

When is your bike most vulnerable to rust? Here’s how to prevent corrosion problems

Summertime is the time most of look forward to great weather, long rides, and minimal bike maintenance. After all, the cold and wet of winter presents the roughest conditions for bicycles, right? Actually, no. Water in itself is not a problem.  The leading cause of corrosion on bicycle frames is perspiration.

We have a few friends who qualify for Toxic Avenger status and as many times as we’ve strongly suggested they hose off their tandems after summer rides and give them a good soapy washing on a regular basis, we invariably find tell tale signs that their sweat-soaked frames and components are falling victim to corrosion.

These silent killers often go unnoticed until something on the bike needs maintenance and disassembly becomes a challenge due to parts being corroded in place.

Anyway, as I said, the new Co-Motion FAQ on corrosion is one of the best, non-nonsense things I’ve read when it comes to frame care.  If you missed the link at the top of this entry, you can click HERE to go to the FAQ.



About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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3 Responses to Co-Motion FAQ on Corrosion Prevention: Sweat Is The Enemy!

  1. batsnapper says:

    …or ride aluminum. Which leads me to a question, why does Co-Motion not offer an SS coupled aluminum frame? Is there a problem with aluminum and couplers? We were looking at that mix for our next tandem.

    • TG says:

      I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine an aluminum-framed tandem and its components would be any less prone to sweat-induced corrosive damage than any other tandem built from other materials. While the frame itself might be a bit more corrosion resistant, even our composite frame uses alloy bolts, bosses, threaded sleeves, spacers, etc. that can be damaged and galvanic corrosion is a potential issue that requires some type of attention where aluminum and composite materials come in contact with each other. FWIW, where I’ve seen the most corrosive damage has been around forks, shifters, cranks, and water bottle bosses/inserts/screws as well as a few frozen seat posts.

      Regardless, the following is something I wrote a back in May 2006 on the question regarding aluminum travel tandems. I may have been a little to subjective in regard to the added stiffness that comes with adding couplers, as a frame builder friend suggested that it’s not a given. Frame design, tubing selection and fabrication methods being what they are, a builder can always tailor a frame to deliver desired ride qualities in a variety of different ways. My point of reference was comments from a few other builders and personal experience with a pair of nearly geometrically identical Erickson tandems that we owned where one was built with S&S couplers and the other was not. The uncoupled frame was noticably more compliant than the coupled model, which jived with what we’d heard from other builder friends. But, other than that, I think most of the other data points stand on their own.

      Having talked with a few of the other builders about aluminum travel tandems, the widely held view is that aluminum frames once damaged are not inexpensive to repair and travel tandems — by their very nature — are far more prone to being damaged than the average tandem that never sees the inside of an aircraft cargo hold. Also, given that the major attraction of aluminum tandem frames is their light weight, once you add the extra butting (thicker) sections to the tubing for the installation of couplers and the couplers, the weight savings becomes pretty minimal. As for the added stiffness, coupled tandems are actually a bit stiffer than uncoupled models so, once again, the amount of added stiffness that a buyer normally associates with an aluminum frame is not as as significant when compared to a coupled steel or carbon frame. Finally, there is the cost. An aluminum travel tandem is more expensive than a steel S&S equipped tandem which is already a significant cost upgrade to a basic uncoupled tandem. Again, IMO once you start getting into buyers with that kind of money for a travel tandem, the stretch to the Ti or Carbon models (both of which are more durable and easier to repair than the Aluminum) usually isn’t a big deal. Thus, the target customer for an aluminum travel tandem is someone who already owns and thoroughly enjoys an aluminum-framed tandem. Given that the most popular model of tandem sold for the past several years has been the Santana Sovereign / Team AL, I’d put money on the bet that says it was Santana’s customers asking for the coupled Sovereigns that ultimately led to Santana’s investment in the technology to deliver on that request.

      Original thread link:

  2. Chris says:

    I’m pretty toxic also, and have gotten in the habit of using a spray bottle containing water in combination with a rag to clean the portions of the bike I drip on.

    Not as time consuming as hosing the entire bike and seems to work for us.

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