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While it is not necessary or even prudent to lube up your drive train until you are picking up small birds and rodents as you ride by, even a well maintained bicycle is home to oil and grease in every nook and cranny from the chain (yuk!) to the brakes.  Oil and grease attract filth and grit which eventually eat up drive trains and bearings.  This accumulation accelerates in foul weather, speeding the destruction of all those nice, shiny, expensive parts.  It is always important to keep your bicycle clean.  It is critical to keep your bicycle clean when you ride in foul weather.  This cassette (by no means the most extreme case we have ever had) is not only ugly, it is ruined.  By maintaining close contact between the chain and moist dirt this filthy cassette sped the destruction of the chain and eventually of the chainrings and of the rear derailleur (which is pretty frightening as well........want to see?). 

While you probably have a pretty accurate picture of the original quality of the bicycle which wore these parts, it is not just in-expensive and un-maintained bicycles that are destroyed by poor maintenance.  High-end, multi-thousand dollar specialty bicycles get similarly damaged and destroyed by neglect.  This next picture is of a custom Litespeed Blade.  The owner came in complaining of bottom bracket noise.  When we opened it we found nearly four ounces of accumulated dirt and a ruined bottom bracket.  Even really nice bicycles can die in the winter.

It is critical to carry out regular maintenance when you ride in foul weather.  Your drive train needs frequent cleanings and the individual components need to be checked for wear.  Your brake pads need to be checked for grit and filed.  All your bearings need to be checked for contamination.  If you ride in the rain, you need to remove your seatpost and up-end your bicycle in order to drain any water which might have accumulated in your bottom bracket.  Check your tires for cuts and your cables for wear before every winter ride.  Our staff will be glad to discuss other techniques for keeping you and your bicycle healthy over the winter.  Please ask them.