How to clean a bike in 7 easy steps?
Wash the bike after riding to remove dirt and keep accessories running smoothly
The bike runs smoother, extends the life of the bike and looks better when clean. This will make driving more fun and save you money in the long run.
While it may be tempting to just stow it in your garage for your next ride, even a few minutes at regular intervals will improve the riding experience and longevity of your bike.
Regardless of the shape of the handlebar or the number of suspension parts on a bicycle, dirt will wear off the moving parts if left on the bicycle for a long time. As important as cleaning your bike after a wet, dirty ride is cleaning it after dry and dusty tours.
Here’s how to clean a road or mountain bike in seven easy steps.
Necessary for washing the bike
- Water source: bucket or garden hose. You can use a jet washer, but you have to bear in mind that its improper use may lead to dirt from the seals and shorten the life of the bearings or bushings (it is definitely better not to direct it directly at the bearing or suspension seals)
- Workstation (optional, but definitely helpful)
- Brushes. Several brands offer a “bike brush kit” with brushes for a variety of uses, but if you don’t have one, a few toothbrushes and an old dustpan brush are all you need.
- Chain cleaner or special brush with stiff bristles if you don’t have one
- Bicycle washing liquid (preferably ecological)
- Chain lubricant
- Paper towel or rag
Step 1: Clean the drive system If you have a chain cleaner, the matter is very simple – follow the instructions that are always included with the purchase. If not, just apply a degreaser and use a brush. A brush for the cassette and gears will be needed in any case.
Remember! If you already have a brush dedicated to the drive system, do not use it for any other part of the bike, especially the brakes – contamination of the braking surface with dirt from the chain will ruin the performance and may force you to replace the brake pads.
You may need to use something to remove stubborn dirt from places like the jockey wheels, and some brushes have a hooked handle for just that. A flat-head screwdriver and an awl can help.
Step 2: Wipe down the discs or the braking surface
At this point it is a good idea to wipe the discs or the surface of the rim brake.
No matter how carefully you clean the chain, there is always a chance that mud could get onto the rotors. It can also cause problems with rim brakes.
Spray a little degreaser on a clean paper towel and wipe around the impellers.
Step 3: Rinse and apply detergent
Use a hose or bucket and sponge to wet the bike and remove most of the built-up mud and dirt.
If you are using a jet washer, stand back or reduce the intensity.
Spray detergent along the main pipes and the dirtiest areas.
Step 4: Brush clean
After a few cleanings, you’ll develop your own routine – front to back or top to bottom. Pay attention to moving parts and use a smaller brush to get into the narrower spaces.
The brushes in combination with the detergent will loosen most of the remaining dirt from the bike. An old rag is very useful for threading behind tight areas such as the crankset and front derailleur.
Step 5: Rinse off
Rinse the bike with fresh water. Spin each wheel to flush all detergent out of the tread. Check that all debris has been removed and return with the brush if any remain, then rinse again.
Step 6: Dry If you have a workplace, now’s a good time to put your bicycle in it. Use an old cloth or chamois leather to dry your bike.
Then, carefully avoiding brittle surfaces, polish it with a PTFE or silicone spray. Rub it with a paper towel or soft cloth. This will not only make your bike sparkle, but it will also reduce the amount of dirt that will stick to it on your next tour.
Step 7: Brush
Apply lubricant to the chain while turning the pedals. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations, as it is very easy to overdo it with a lubricant.
If the bicycle is not stationary, you must turn the pedals backwards. Use a moisture dispersant on the shift pins, being extra careful to avoid the braking surface.