How to Remove Rust From Bike Handlebars

Rust is one of the biggest problems bikes have. Not only do these ruin their looks, but they can also affect their performance and pose safety hazards for you.

This is why you must remove rust from your bike as much as possible.

The most common area where rust builds up is on your handlebars. This component is directly exposed to the elements such as sunlight, mud, and dirt. This is why they can easily build up rust and can negatively impact your mountain biking experience.

Good thing you’ve found this article because here, we’ll show you the different methods on how you can remove ruse from bike handlebars.

Things Needed to Remove Rust From Handlebars

Softdrinks

One of the best things you can use to remove rust from handlebars is carbonated drinks or soft drinks such as Coca-Cola.

However, you can use other brands such as Sprite or Pepsi. As long as it’s a good ‘ole soda, then that’s good to go. According to researches, carbonated drinks are effective in rust removal because they have phosphoric acid that is capable of dissolving any rust buildup.

What’s more, is that soda can easily dissolve rust without damaging the surface’s metal structure.

This makes it perfectly fine to be used on bike components such as the handlebars, bike chain, or even bike frame. Just pour some soda on the area which has rust and let it sit there for 15 to 30 minutes before wiping off the residue.

Citric acid

Citric acid is another effective substance to remove handlebar rust. There are different kinds of citric acids out there.

But the most common ones are the acid from lime and lemon, which are very effective in dissolving rust. Pour half a glass of citric acid on a rag or sponge and gently wipe it down to the area on the handlebar which has rust.

Just be sure to wipe it off after 10 to 15 minutes because letting citric acid sit too long on your bars can damage its metal material as this is stronger compared to the phosphoric acid present in carbonated drinks.

Salt

Salt is also an effective agent to remove rust from handlebars. Mix up a small paste of salt with lemon juice or lime and slowly pour it onto the area where there is rust.

We recommend you mix 4 to 6 tablespoons of salt into 2 or 3 tablespoons of juice to create a paste. Then slowly rub its paste on the handlebar. Let it sit there for around 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing the bars.

Vinegar

Vinegar has acetic acid that is also effective in rust removal. We recommend you directly pour the vinegar on the area with rust and wait for around 30 to 40 minutes before rinsing it off with soap and water.

You can also try pouring a teaspoon of vinegar on a rag or sponge. You then use it to scrub the rust off the bars. Just make sure you rinse the handlebars thoroughly with soap and water because any acid residue can seep through the metal material and damage it.

You might also want to try mixing vinegar with baking soda. Note that baking soda is one of the most common things used to remove rust.

Just make sure that you use enough baking soda and mix it properly with water to get the best effect. You can also use this on your bike chain or create a baking soda paste out of it.

Step-by-step Guide on Removing Rust From Handlebar

Step 1

The first thing you should do when removing rust from a bike handlebar is to prepare all the necessary materials. This includes table salt, lemon juice, water, steel wool, baking soda, and a sponge if you don’t want to use the sharper steel wool.

Once you have all these set, you then mix around 6 tablespoons of table salt with 2 spoons of lemon juice. Place this in a cup and then stir them thoroughly until you see they’re all mixed up well. You want the mixture to be sticky enough and to look like a thick paste.

Step 2

After that, you can then apply the paste mixture directly on the handlebar’s metal parts that have rust.

Do this carefully, though, because you don’t want to place some on areas that have no rust buildup as this can damage the metal.

Make sure that you coat the paste mixture evenly on the area with rust and then let it rest there for around 10 to 15 minutes. You can also mix it up with some baking soda as baking soda is also an effective agent to remove rust from bike and loose rust stains.

Also, see to it that the paste is thick and solid enough that it won’t drip off from the bars to the floor. You can also wrap the bars with aluminum foil so it won’t drip off it to the entire bike frame, bike spokes

Step 3

Get a toothbrush and use it to brush off any rust buildup from the handlebars. Then apply a variety of brushing motions.

The most effective motion to do is the circular motion as this covers a huge area of the rusted bars. Keep up with the brushing pace until you start seeing that the rust stains break down from the bar.

A good sign that you’re doing well is if the rust fades off. Just don’t overdo it as you might end up scraping the handlebar’s paint coating. You can also use cloth if you find the toothbrush a bit awkward to use because of its uneven bristles.

Step 4

Then rinse the handlebar with clean water if you already see that the rust is removed. Make sure that you also dry it with a clean rag or cloth so that no acidic residue will be left on the surface and damage it.

A good way to avoid rust buildup in the future is to polish it with anti-corrosive wax at least weekly or sprinkle it with baking soda before washing the bike completely. You can also spray a clear varnish coat over the bars.

How to prevent your bike handlebar from rusting?

Step 1

There are times when avoiding rusting is better than doing something to get rid of rust. That’s where proper preventive measures come to play.

To do this, the first thing to do is to first get rid of any initial rust build-up. You can do this by using sandpaper or a steel wool pad in rubbing out the rust. This is an effective method because it stops the rust infestation from further spreading.

Step 2

Once you already scraped it off, you can use touch-up paint on the metal area where previous rust build-up was present.

Also apply it in surrounding areas to prevent further spread. You can also use fingernail polish on the metal if you don’t have any touch-up paint. This is effective in preventing air exposure which leads to oxidation. Note that oxidation is the number one reason for rust buildup.

Step 3

After that, you can then apply a grease protectant on the metal surface of the handlebar. The best brand out there is WD-40 Corrosion Inhibitor as this is specifically developed to be used to prevent rusting on bike parts such as bike chain, gears, handlebars, and even the bike frame.

These areas are also the most prone to rusting because they are easily exposed to the elements such as air, sunlight, and water. However, you can control and avoid these by using protectant sprays.

Why you need to remove rust from the bike handlebar?

Safety

Rust might seem like just an aesthetic problem, but it’s more than just bad looks. It’s also about safety because rust can negatively impact the performance of your bike, especially of your handlebar.

Note that your bars are what allow you to control and maneuver your bike. And a handlebar that has rust doesn’t move that smooth. There’s a good chance you’ll crash, hit something, or fall off your bike.

Performance

A rusted handlebar severely impacts your mountain bike’s riding performance because it makes it less maneuverable. You use the handlebar to turn and to control your bike while riding on trails or roads.

Hence, you need to make sure that it can turn and move smoothly. A rusted handlebar is very hard to move and feels clunky.

There’s even a chance that it can break on its own if it’s that severely rusted. You can even hurt yourself and get a tetanus infection if your skin touches a rough rusted part of the bar. Getting rid of rust makes you go faster and more confident in the trails.

Aesthetics

No one wants to have a mountain bike that has rusted handlebars knowing that it’s the first thing you see.

Not only will it look like an old beaten bicycle, but it also makes you look like a loser. As bad as it sounds, that’s what it is.

And all you can do is just ditch off the rusted bar and get a new one. Or maybe just do the best of what you can to remove rust using the methods we have mentioned above or to avoid it entirely by doing the right maintenance.

Conclusion

Knowing the right way to remove rust from bike handlebars is very important because this affects your safety, bike performance, and the overall look of your bike. Carefully follow the tips we have mentioned above, and you’ll have a fresh-looking bike in no time.

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AUTHOR
Jomar Teves
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends. After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings. Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.