Cycling is one of the most popular outdoor activities. Whether you ride a road bike or a mountain bike, maintenance is one of the most important parts of ensuring a safe and pleasant ride. Many people overlook this maintenance. They don’t think their bike is important enough to require any level of regular care.
These people cheat themselves out of the bike’s best possible performance. They’re also losing money in the long-term. Regular preventative maintained reduces wear down and damage. This prolongs the bike’s lifetime and means you don’t have to buy another so soon.
There are seven tips on how to clean a bicycle:
1. Setting Up
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have the right tools for the job. Many who clean their bikes find themselves using whatever they can find. Often this can lead to doing more damage than good. To ensure the best clean make sure you have the following items. A bucket and sponge, degreaser, bike wash fluid, a brush, some paper towel, chain lube, and a chain cleaning device. These items are all important in ensuring the best possible clean. I wouldn’t suggest jury-rigging replacements, go with the genuine article.
2. Cleaning The Chain
The chain is obviously a critical component of the bike. It’s also one of the first things to go on a poorly maintained bike. The bike chain cleaning tool is required here. Without this specialized tool you won’t be able to properly clean the chain. Grime gets caked into the tiny crevices between the links of the chain. Try as you may, you won’t be getting it out without an actual chain cleaner. Apply the degreaser to the chain during this stage of the cleaning. This will allow the chain cleaner to operate properly. If the chain contacts grimy parts, clean these as well.
3. Cleaning the Discs and Frame
The disk brakes are another essential component of the bike. Grease and grime often accumulate on the discs, which inhibits their proper functioning. Apply the degreaser using a paper towel, and then wipe it off with another clean paper towel. The next step is to apply bike wash to the frame. This is where you need your bucket and sponge. Mix some bike wash into a bucket of water. Then lather the bike with this solution. Try to get the bike wash evenly over the entirety of the bike. This is best done by hand rather than with a pressure washer, which could damage the bike.
4. Deep Clean
Now that the bike is properly lathered, the real work of cleaning can begin. Use a coarsely bristled brush for this. Start at the top of the bike and work the bike wash around using the brush. Make sure to move any moving parks during this cleaning, to allow the bike wash to penetrate and alleviate the grime. Being thorough is of critical importance during this step. Now that the bike is properly lathered simply rinse it off. This can be done using a hose, or simply by dumping a few buckets of clean water over the bike. Make sure that you’ve gotten all of the bike wash off.
Now that your bike is clean, you’d like to do whatever you can to keep it looking its best. Try using a leather chamois to remove any remaining water that hasn’t dried. You don’t want excess moisture hanging around on the bike. To give the bike a real shine, try some PTFE spray or look into purchasing some silicone bike polish. Whatever you do, be sure not to polish any surface used for braking, like the rims or the disc break rotors. The brakes will fail if you polish them slick. Apply the polish with a paper towel or a soft cloth, this will help stop grime from sticking onto your bike.
6. Lube The Chain
The bike is now all cleaned up and it’s looking great thanks to the dedicated buff job you’ve just given it. There’s one more thing to do though, and it might just be the most important. When you degreased the chain early, you removed the grease that lubricates the chain. Without this your chain won’t last long at all. Never forget to lube your chain after every cleaning. Simply hold the bottle of lube over the chain and turn your pedals backwards. This spreads the lube evenly over the length of the chain. Use a paper towel under the chain to catch any excess drips.
7. You’ve Done It
With the lubing of the chain, you’ve successfully completed a proper and thorough cleaning of your bike. This will help to ensure that you have a smooth ride without any unexpected hiccups. With the proper application of polish and the proper lubing of the chain, you hopefully won’t have to undertake such a thorough clean again too soon. It’s important to make sure that you don’t overestimate this though. Regular cleaning is the most important part of regular bike maintenance. If you keep up this routine, your bike should last a long, long, time.