If you’re wondering why would you bother to clean your bike, I’ve got news for you! Keeping your bike clean has many advantages. The biggest advantage of having clean and well-lubricated components? They will run smoothly and last longer without dirt wearing them out!
When you’re cleaning your bike, take the opportunity to check if you can fix minor issues before they turn into major problems and costly repairs. Plus, putting a derailed chain back on a clean bike is a lot nicer (and easier) than a bike covered in sand, oil, and mud.
What do you need to clean your bike
Warning: do not wear your clean jeans and your favorite t-shirt while cleaning your bike, as it is a messy job. Put on clothes that you won’t be afraid to get dirty. Once you have all the necessary products on hand, allow about 15 minutes for the cleanup. The operation may take a little longer the first time.
- Dirty bike
- A place to clean it – you can also lean your bike against a fence or hang the saddle from a low, sturdy tree branch
- Clean rags – pieces of old cotton dish towels, t-shirts or even old socks will do just fine
- Chain lubricant
- Liquid bike chain degreaser / cleaner
- A tool to clean the chain (optional)
- Cleaning brushes – an old toothbrush can also be used in case of a problem
- Good quality biodegradable bicycle cleaner or dish soap
- One or two buckets of hot water
- Garden hose (optional)
How to clean your bike
Important: Do not lubricate the disc brake pads and the brake rotor. Some people will even cover them with a plastic bag with rubber bands.
Wash and scrub
If you’re using a garden hose, take it easy. Do not rinse your bike with a high pressure water jet, as you risk driving the dirt even deeper or getting water into the ball bearing (which is not a good idea) .
- Soap: Fill your bucket with hot water. If using detergent, add a small amount to form bubbles.
- Wet the frame: Quickly rinse your frame with the garden hose or water from the bucket to remove the bulk of the mud.
- Spray the cleaner: If you’re using a bike cleaner, spray it on the frame. Read the instructions to find out how long you need to leave the cleanser on.
- Scrub gently: Use a large cleaning brush to scrub the cleanser or warm soapy water onto your frame. Don’t forget the bottom bracket, cassette and wheels. While rubbing, check carefully to see if there are any cracks or other damage that you might not have noticed before.
- Rinse off: Rinse off any cleaner or soapy water with the garden hose, clean water from the bucket, or a bottle filled with clean water.
- Dry the frame: With a dry towel.
Then clean the chain and cassette
- Degrease the cassette: Use a cleaning brush or an old toothbrush soaked in degreaser to clean the cassette sprockets.
- Degrease the chain: To lightly clean the chain, soak a clean cloth in a little degreaser. For heavily soiled chains, use a chain cleaner with degreaser.
- Wipe off the degreaser: Rinse the degreaser well with water and wipe the chain with a clean cloth.
- Lubricate the chain: Do not use too much chain lubricant. Gently move the lubricant tip over the dry chain, pouring a drop into each link (spin the pedals at the same time).
- Wipe off excess lubricant: Using a clean, dry cloth, wipe down the chain to remove excess lubricant.
Note: If there is a lot of dirt embedded in the chain, it may be time for a good soak. Remove the chain completely, fill an old container with degreaser, then soak the chain for a few minutes. Be sure to rinse the chain thoroughly before reinstalling it on the bike.
When should you clean your bike
If you use your bike often and have never cleaned it, now is the time to do it. After a ride that leaves your bike covered in mud or sand, or encrusted with grime or debris, you should rinse off the most important thing, then give it the attention it deserves: quick rinse and clean followed by another rinse. or a complete cleaning if it is still dirty.
Mountain and cyclocross bikes need to be cleaned more often than road bikes. It is less important to clean your bike if you are riding in dry weather. However, even if you are riding on the road or only pedaling to commute home and work, debris can become encrusted and wear down your components. Keep your mount clean so that it continues to ride smoothly.
All bikes will benefit from frequent chain maintenance. After one or two long rides or after riding in the rain a few times, clean and lubricate your chain. If you pedal to work on a regular basis, clean and lubricate your chain once a week to keep it functioning properly.