Let me put forward a scenario to you:
You buy a new bike and, when compared to the state of your previous two-wheeler, you’re shocked at how shiny and pristine it looks. Obviously, you want to keep it looking like this, so for a few weeks you take extra care to wipe it down after you’ve been cycling and make sure you avoid any particularly dirty-looking puddles when you’re out and about. But, after a while, your vigilance starts to wane, you can’t be bothered cleaning it and before you know it, your bike is splattered in mud and grime.
Sound familiar? I’m not surprised as this is exactly how I used to treat my bike – until I realised that neglecting to clean it not only means it looks tatty and old, but can potentially damage some of the bike parts as well. What’s more, if you let dirt, grit and grease build up, the performance of your bike will be affected.
So, what equipment do you need to clean your bike? Well, not a lot actually. These are the basics:
- A set of bike cleaning brushes
- Bucket of warm water
- Bike cleaner, lube and polish
- Rag or cloths, chamois leather
To clean the bike, start off with the general frame. Spray the bike in bike cleaner and then work off the dirt using a sponge or soft brush and some water if necessary. You can then go on to cleaning the individual bike parts.
Put the bike in the lowest gear and pedal backwards, running the chain through a damp cloth in your hand. If this doesn’t get the dirt off, apply some degreaser and leave to work for a few minutes. Using a damp cloth, then wipe the entire chain to get rid of any degreaser and remaining dirt.
Rear sprockets and mech
Scrub the rear sprockets with hot water and a brush, using a little degreaser if necessary. If there is mud wedged deep in the sprockets use a thin screwdriver or something similar to gently poke it out. Wipe using a dry cloth in a flossing motion to get rid of any remnants of dirt.
Using a bike cleaning brush, remove any big chunks of dirt from the rear mech and again, poke out any trapped dirt carefully. Ensure you clean both sides before applying a little degreaser to get rid of any final bits of dirt.
Similar to the back mech, you need to use a brush to get rid of any dirt and then use a cloth with the flossing motion to clean between all the different parts.
Wipe the rims of the wheels with a cloth to clean then, paying special attention to the brake pads. These should be clear of any dirt and debris so don’t ignore them. While you are cleaning your brake pads you can check they are not worn away and are still in good condition.
Make sure your bike is completely dry by going over the whole thing with a chamois cloth. Then apply some bike polish for that extra special shine. Finally, finish off by applying bike lube to the moving parts to keep everything running smoothly – be careful not to use too much as this can build up and attract dirt.
In many ways, cleaning your bike is a lot like cleaning your car. The better you look after it, the better it’ll perform and the longer it’ll last. So make sure you give your bike the attention it deserves and keep it looking shiny and new.
- License: Creative Commons image source
This guest blog was contributed by Janine Willis a freelance writer who often blogs on outdoor topics, whether regarding road bike parts or tents.