Cleaning your bike is simple and a crucial part of bike ownership.
All those moving parts are constantly exposed to the elements, road debris and dirt. To keep your bike working correctly and safely, a regular cleaning routine is a must. If your bike is kept clean, it will be easier to spot potential issues before you get out on the road or trail.
While it may be tempting to hook up the power washer and shoot the bike with a jet stream of water, this is not a great idea. Along with the dirt, you’ll also blast away the grease that should be there, which has the all important job of lubing the bike’s various components. You will also risk damaging the bearings systems.
All you need for a good basic bike cleaning are a few fresh rags or sponges, a couple of different size brushes, a degreaser like Simple Green, diluted dishwashing detergent or a bike specific wash, a bucket or two, and a chamois cloth or towel for drying.
Set your bike up on a repair stand or even your car’s hitch mount bike rack so you don’t have to hunch over it. Pour water from a bucket on or wet the bike with your hose (lightly, just a dribble). Remember-no blasting! You merely want to wet the bike to loosen any stubborn caked on dirt or grime so you don’t scratch the frame when you begin wiping it.
Fill a bucket with detergent and water, grab a sponge or rag and get cleaning. Wipe the bike with sudsy water. Use a brush for hard to reach places like around the fork, brakes or hubs. Does your bike have standard brakes? Then clean your rims well; this is your braking surface after all!
Rinse the bike with a bucket of clean water. Or if you decide to hose it down, spray it lightly. Dry the bike thoroughly with an unsoiled towel or chamois cloth.
Once the bike is clean and dry, if you want the job to be a little easier next time, use some silicon spray on the frame. It will make your bike look pretty and shiny, with the added bonus of repelling dirt and water. Be sure to spray only the frame, though; take care to stay away from the wheels, rims, brakes and chain. Relubricate your chain with a good bike chain lube (there are many fine products available, ask your local bike shop for their recommendation).
You are now ready to set out on your clean machine!
Get into a good bike hygiene regimen. Repeat these basic cleaning steps as often as necessary. This is an easy and essential part of owning a bike. On a dirt free bike, it is easier to see potential maintenance problems and get them straightened out. Plus your bike will look great as you ride off down the road.