Keeping your bike clean can be a chore. However, it is something that should be in your riding calendar at least once a month or after a particularly wet/dirty ride. It should be one of those things, you shouldn’t even think about having to do.
Why is it so important? Imagine yourself on a sandy beach, half naked and covered in suntan lotion. If you roll around in that sand it will stick to your body, working its way into every nook and cranny. Now without rinsing off, grab a pair of running shoes and go for a long run…feeling a bit chafed? Now look at your bike. Is the chain black? Are your chain ring teeth grimy? Are your derailleur pulleys covered in indescribable muck? All that nasty gritty debris will grind up your drivetrain, just like that sand ground up all your unmentionable areas. Road, mountain, or commuter, every bike needs a good scrubbing which will keep it running longer, quieter and faster, not to mention looking really sharp.
So what’s involved in cleaning your bike? For starters, you’ll need a bucket of hot soapy water, dishwashing liquid is a favorite of mine, particularly if it has a grease dissolving agent…think Dawn. A soft bristle brush, sponge, and old toothbrush and some clean rags are pretty much all the tools you’ll need.
Thoroughly wet the bike down using a low pressure garden hose. This will loosen up most of the grime on the bike and avoid scratching the finish. Note that you should avoid high pressure sprays at all cost as the water can get into delicate bearings displacing the grease causing far more harm than good. Get plenty of soapy water on the sponge or brush and start cleaning from the top down. Starting from your handlebars working your way down and towards the back of the bike. Be sure to rinse out the sponge or brush frequently. If you want to be very thorough, remove your wheels prior to cleaning. This makes it much easier to access those hard to reach areas like your fork, seat and chain stays. Rinse it all off, again low pressure, and wipe dry. Once this is done, it’s time to focus on the all important drivetrain, the heart of your bike.
There are many commercial products (Greased Lightning, Simple Green, Finish Line) which will make cleaning your drivetrain less of a messy proposition. A good citrus degreasers makes cleaning your rear casette as easy as point, squirt and air dry. Regardless though, it may be a good idea to wear a pair of disposable latex gloves to avoid geting your hands covered in grease.
Start by wiping the chain clean. The easiest way is simply wiping it thoroughly with a clean, dry rag while spinning your crank backwards. If your chain is really gummed up, use a biodegradable solvent and a chain scrubbing tool. Remember to clean both sides and the top and bottom of the chain.
Clean the crankset and chainrings. Lift the chain off the small ring and rest it carefully on the frame. Clean the large chainring and the inside of the small chainring with a rag. Knock off any grimy deposits on the surfaces between the rings with a a toothbrush and then use a brush and rag to clean off the rest. Check the derailleurs, inspecting the pulleys on the rear derailleur, wiping off any built-up sludge. Then run a rag through the front derailleur to clean it of any grimy deposits. A toothbrush often comes in handy here.
Clean the cassette. Place the rear wheel on a bench or floor with the cassette facing up. Dampen a rag with solvent and slip it between two cogs. Use a shoe-shine, back-and-forth motion with the rag to clean the cogs repeating the procedure with each pair of cogs until they’re clean. A much easier way is to use a spray solvent like White Lightning. You just simply spray it on and all the grease and gunk magically falls right off without any scrubbing.
As a final step, apply a thin coating of good chain lube to both the top and bottom of the chain and the derailleur pivots. After letting it soak in, wipe off all of the excess lube to help prevent dirt from sticking to the parts you just cleaned. Remember, too much lube will just make everything get gunked up faster. Don’t forget to clean and dry your wheel rims and spokes as well.
All in all, a good thorough cleaning will take about 30 to 45 minutes. As an extra detail, slap a nice coat of wax on your frame to really make it stand out. Furniture wax, like Pledge, works best here, as well as some of the newer technical car spray on polishes. If you have a mat paint scheme on your bike, stay away from the classic paste waxes. Remember, a clean machine is a PRO machine and it allows for the components to work properly while reducing wear. Keep it PRO, keep it clean.
Friday, February 22
Ride Time: 1:58:38
Stopped Time: 8:37
Distance: 38.28 miles
Average: 19.36 mph
Fastest Speed: 28.84 mph
Cycle This Month: 352.43 miles
Cycle This Year: 1077.05 miles