Regardless of what you put your bike through, whether it be a casual neighborhood ride or a long day of muddy single track, your bike will always have some sort of grime or buildup on it. To keep everything working properly, cleaning it regularly is a must. Cleaning your bike will prolong its life span and save you money in the long run on new parts.
Getting up close and personal with your bike can help you identify the areas where wear is occurring and alert you to possible issues you might experience while out on the trail.
For a basic bike cleaning, here’s what you should have on hand.
- A set of bicycle cleaning brushes
- Repair stand. Not exactly a must, but it’s easier than flipping your bike upside down. Also, you can use your bike rack if it allows your crank to be turned without obstruction.
- Chain scrubber
- Chain lube
- Rags and/or sponges
- A bucket
- Soap: Dish soap works great
- Water: Warm water is best.
Step by Step: How to Clean your Bike
Fill a bucket with warm water and add a couple drops of soap.
Start with the drivetrain. Use the chain scrubber or a rag with the degreaser solution to clean the chain. Use brushes with the solution to clean the cassette and chain rings. Pedal the bike as you hold a rag around the chain to remove all the grit.
Clean the rest of the bike with the soapy water, starting at the top and working down. Between the rags, sponges, and brushes, you should be able to get the grit and grime out of most areas of the frame, fork, and wheels. Then give it a good low-pressure rinse.
Rinse the bike off with a low-pressure hose or by pouring water over it. Higher pressure hoses can create more problems than they’re worth when water gets beyond seals and in cables.
Dry it off. A dry rag works; using compressed air from the hose will make you look pro, but again you want to make sure to avoid anything high-pressure pointed towards bearings, pivots, fork seals, etc.
When lubing your bike you should go with the “less is more attitude”. Excess lube attracts dirt and grime and makes it so you need to clean your bike more often. When lubing your chain, apply the lube while pedaling the bike, so it works the lube into the entire chain evenly. Make sure to wipe away any excess lube from the chain and any areas it may have dripped onto.
I hope you were keeping your eyes open for any potential issues. Frayed cables, cracked frames, and loose bolts are best addressed now when you’re alongside your bike instead of when you’re on the trail. Even if the fix requires a trip to the bike shop, you could potentially save yourself hundreds with a cheap fix before it comes a real problem.