Bike washing can feel like a chore after a ride. Here are our top tips on making short work of keeping your bicycle clean and well maintained.
A clean bike not only looks way better but there are also practical reasons why giving your bike a regular clean is good for it.
Washing your bike gives you a chance to spot any areas of wear and tear that may soon need fixing. Keep an eye out for frayed cables, deep scratch marks or scuffs or any fluid leaks around seals on your suspension (if your bike has any) that could indicate a problem.
Keeping your bike clean and lubricated will help increase the longevity of components and save you money, and time, in the long run.
1. A wet bike is easier to clean than a dry bike
Through trial and error, we have realised that cleaning your bike is easier while the muck and dirt is still wet. A gentle spray or bucket and sponge will get the mud off with no elbow grease required.
2. You don’t need fancy equipment
You can easily clean your bike with a bucket and sponge. A jet wash is tempting for speed but unless you’re really careful you can blow water and muck into the bearings, which can cause damage. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the muck loose then rinse again with clean water.
3. Look after your chain
If you do no other maintenance at all, at least degrease and re-lube your chain frequently. Piling more and more lube on your bike, without getting rid of the old, just attracts dirt. This leaves you with a horrible, greasy black mess, which becomes a grinding paste accelerating the wear on your cassette and chain. Don’t waste time scrubbing your chain – use a chain cleaner that clamps on and pulls your chain through a series of brushes and a bath of degreaser. It’s a really easy way to get great results.
4. Choose the right lube
What you oil your chain with can make a real difference to how well your bike works and how clean your chain stays. There are different weights for different conditions, such as wet and dry, plus different types of lubrication like wax and oil. Some are thicker and stickier than others. If you ride off-road, where bike lube could be washed into puddles or streams, it is a good idea to buy one that is bio-degradable, such as Green Oil.
5. Use good quality cleaning products and oil
A good bike cleaning spray, like Muc-Off, will help break down mud and grease, making it easier to clean. Leave it on for a few moments so it can get to work then rinse off. Washing up liquid isn’t good for your components so a specialist product is worthwhile for this stage of your cleaning. When it comes to finishing your bike off and giving your frame a final shine, ordinary furniture polish can do as good a job as expensive bike specific frame polish.
6. Watch out for disc brakes
Any contaminants transfer easily to the pads so be careful not to touch your disc rotors with oily fingers while cleaning your bike. Contaminated disc-brakes will squeal and may lose some of their braking power so keep all oils away from them. To clean your disc-rotors thoroughly, either use a specific bike cleaner or neat alcohol on a lint free cloth to scrub them. To save taking your disc-pads out, protect your pads by pulling a plastic sandwich bag over the whole calliper. When spraying lube or frame polish put your bike in the bike-stand and take your wheels out so nothing goes near the disc-rotors.
7. Go easy on your e-bike
You can use water to clean an e-bike but be sparing on the water and avoid any kind of pressure washer. Use a bucket of warm water and a sponge or cloth to loosen and wipe away compacted dirt and mud. To dry an e-bike quickly and effectively use a hairdryer on a cool setting to ensure all electrical points are free of water.
8. Get into the habit
You can do a really thorough wash in 20 minutes and a pretty good effort in less than ten so there isn’t really an excuse for a dirty bike! Remember, it’s not just about keeping your bike looking good, regular washing helps components to last longer and gives you time to check that everything is safe and functioning properly.
Do you have any tips for speeding up the bike cleaning process? Let us know!