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Bike Cleaning 101

If you’re anything like me you may be going slightly crazy at being confined to the four walls of your house for long periods of time. Our houses, as pleasant as they may be, seem to get smaller and smaller as the days go by. ‘Hmm, I swear this room was bigger’ you may ponder to yourself as you walk through the door to your living room for the 98th time of the day. We’re naturally outdoorsy people and the once-a-day rule, appreciated as it is, is difficult. During this difficult and mundane situation, we thought to keep everyone sane and learn to love our bikes inside and out that little bit more (but is that even possible?) by posting weekly maintenance tips and general bike TLC.

We’re going to start with the basics, everyone thinks they know how to wash a bike. A cloth, some warm water and a bike cleaning kit you bought from Aldi for £4.99. Yet, there are many dirty bikes out there…go figure. So, let’s go through a step-by-step guide detailing exactly what you should be doing and what products you can use to get your bike sparkling clean for that daily outing.

What you’ll need:

  • Bucket and sponge or hose
  • Degreaser
  • Bike wash fluid (preferably biodegradable)
  • Brushes
  • Paper cloth
  • Chainlube
  • Chain cleaning device

How to clean your bike: step by step guide

1. Rinse the frame down

Might sound obvious but start by giving the frame a basic wipe with a sponge and a bucket of water – as tempting as it is, don’t blast it with a pressure washer as this will force water into the bearings.

Spray the bike with a bike cleaning product like Muc-Off cycle cleaner and leave it on for a couple of minutes to break down the grease and dirt.

Then, with more clean water, use a soft-bristled brush (dustbin brush will do) to give the bike a thorough scrub.

Don’t ever be tempted to substitute the bike cleaning product and soft brush with washing up liquid and a kitchen sponge – this can result in a scratched or even colour faded frame.

2. Clean the rims and brake pads

Give the rims on your wheels a good wash and wipe, and (if you’re using rim, not disc, brakes) wipe the pads to make sure there’s no crud on there that could erode the braking surface (whatever you do, DO NOT USE WD40 on any braking surface)

3. Use a degreaser on the derailleurs and chainset

Next, spray the derailleurs and chain set with a degreasing agent (and give them a good (but gentle) scrub. It may be easier to take the chain off the chainring to do this.

4. Use the degreaser on the cassette and chain

Spray more degreaser over the chain and cassette – and give them a scrub. Using a gear brush really helps you to get into the cassette cogs.

If the chain still looks mucky, use a chain cleaner, simply fill the unit with a degreaser, snap it on and rotate the pedal backwards to feed the chain through. Dispose of the degreaser safely when you’re done.

5. Rinse the frame, dry and lube the chain

Rinse the soap off the bike, dry the chain with an old towel or rag and apply chain lube to the chain and the pivot points on the derailleurs. Finally, use a leather chamois to soak up any excess water then buff your bike with a paper towel or soft cloth. This will also help prevent mud from sticking when next out riding.

And voila, you’re bike now looks as good as new and runs that little bit smoother. Remember – if you look after your bike, your bike will look after you.

Come back next week for another great bike maintenance post by the Hargroves Team.

Now, put theory into practice and get out there to give your bike that well-needed clean.