Keeping a clean bike is perhaps the most important thing you can do to your bike as a rider. It helps save money, increase the lifespan of the bike, and keeps things running smooth. A widely debated topic however, is how a bike really should be cleaned. In the following article, it will be looked at, how to safely and thoroughly clean your bike, as well as how often it should be done.
While its good to keep your bike clean, you first need to know that bikes are tough. They are made to ride in harsh conditions and can take a bit of a beating. It’s not imperative to clean your bike after every ride, however it’s important to know when and when not to wash your bike.
How Often Should I Clean My Bike?
Cleaning your bike should be done regularly. In winter, I clean my bike after nearly every ride! If its wet, I clean it. On the other hand, in summer it’s not always necessary to clean your bike. If you go on a short ride, or just a cruise around the streets, there’s not much point cleaning it. Sometimes cleaning your bike too often poses more of a risk than cleaning it less often; as you may eventually force water into bearings/seals.
How Do I Clean My Bike?
You Will Need
- Brush (with reasonably long bristles)
- Old Rag
- Clean Rag
- Bike Cleaning Solution
- Chain Lube
- Hose Pistol
- Leaf Blower
Begin by placing your bike, on its stand or up against a wall. Plug in and set the hose to a reasonably low speed. If you have a hose pistol/nozzle, set it to shower, centre, or fan. *NOTE: HAVING THE HOSE ON HIGH PRESSURE OR JET CAN CAUSE DAMAGE TO THE SUSPENSION, BEARINGS BY FORCING DIRT INTO SEALS*.
Now begin spraying the bike frame, forks, rear shock, cranks, wheels, and cock-pit area from about 3-5 feet from the bike. Do so until all mud and dirt is removed from the frame and components. Now turn the bike around 180 degrees, and repeat for the opposite side. If your having trouble removing mud, then take a brush and lightly brush off the mud. Now softly spray the cassette, chainring, and chain, while rotating the cranks, to remove any dirt or grime from the drive trail. Once all mud and dirt has been removed from both sides, turn off the hose. Now your ready to start drying the bike!
Pick up the bike, and drop it from about 2-3 feet in the air (keeping it upright). Repeat this 5-10 times, until water stops dropping off the bike. Next give the cranks a fast spin backwards, to spin the chain and cassette fast. This should remove most of the water left in the drivetrain. Now simply, take a cloth and begin wiping down the frame. Beginning at handlebars, through levers, down the fork stanchions, the fork seals, moving to the bike frame, both crank arms, and the chain-ring, moving back towards the rear shock, then the rear triangle of the frame.
Another thing I like to do is to remove the seat-post and give it a good wipe down. This isn’t always necessary, but on some bikes water and dirt can slip into the seat tube, causing creaking to occur.
Now that the main body of the bike is clean and dry, take the brush again, and begin scrubbing the rear cassette. A good technique is to brush up and down on the back section of the cassette, as this allows the cassette to spin and lock. Next, rotate the chain slowly, while brushing the chain with the opposite hand. Rotate the cranks about 8 times before stopping.
Lastly, take a clean cloth (free of any oils) and wipe down the rotors. Sometimes water can sit on them, and this can corrode the finish on the brake rotors. Make sure the cloth is clean, in order to prevent any contamination of the rotors or pads.
If you have chain lube, now is the time to use it! Begin by setting an old rag/cloth down on the bottom of the rear triangle. Now begin to apply chain lube. (The rag prevents any excess dripping onto the frame)
Now store your bike in a safe, dry place, and your ready for your next ride! For more maintenance tips, see our ‘Top 10 list of tools, every cyclist should own’. For a video on washing your bike, click here to watch GMBN’s guide to a 30 minute bike wash!
Tags: rust cleaning wipe degreaser degrease bearings safely safe high-pressure hose good chain road dirt winter summer jet power