How to Clean Your Bicycle
By Thomas Deaner, Brick City Bicycles
If you’re out and about on your bike enough, chances are your bicycle may need to be cleaned from time to time. Keeping your bike clean is a regular maintenance task that will keep your bike parts in good repair and reduce maintenance costs down the road. How often you clean it will depend on how often you ride, where you ride and what the weather is like. If you’re a mountain biker, chances are, your rig may need a wash more often. Some parks even have wash stations so you can clean your bike after your ride or at least hose off the worst of it. Skip the power washing equipment to protect the sealed bearings in your bike from internal rust and damage.
Start with the Drivetrain
When I clean my bike, I always start with the chain. If your chain is grimy enough that a finger will turn black, it’s time to clean the chain. Dirty chains don’t operate efficiently and they not only attract more dirt and grime but also start wearing down the chain parts and the gears. A chain cleaner kit ($20-30) is a great investment and some include a degreaser and specialty brushes, too. You can use it over and over again to keep your chain, cassette and chainrings next to new. Brush the grime off the drivetrain with the brushes and degreaser, then rinse thoroughly.
Wash the Frame
Washing the frame requires a bucket, a stiff brush like the kind you’d use for a car, and a mild cleanser and degreaser like Dawn dishwashing soap. Brush down the frame and rinse off the soap and dirt.
Dry your bike
Use old towels to dry off your bike and shine up the frame.
Re-lube your chain
Don’t forget to lubricate the chain after you’re done cleaning it. When applying lubricant, it’s best if you give it some time to dry before riding it again so it will shed dirt on your ride, rather than attract it. A Teflon-based lubricant, like Rock “N” Roll brand, works really well for our hot and sandy climate because it cleans and lubricates at the same time. See our post Bike Chain Maintenance 101.
While you’re washing your bike, you can visually inspect different parts for wear and tear. Giving your bike a thorough going over can help you identify parts that may need maintenance coming up so you can plan for that and it doesn’t surprise you. As always, our full-service bike shop can help equip you with everything you need to keep your bicycle in good working order and expertise if you need a hand or a second opinion.
About Thomas Deaner
Thomas Deaner is a licensed USA Cycling Mechanic and general manager for Brick City Bicycles in Ocala, Florida. A long-time bike enthusiast, he has been on two wheels for more than 20 years and enjoys sharing his love for cycling with others.