Owning a bike puts you in a pretty enviable position right now; it’s a safe way to get around as it involves minimal contact, can be incredibly fun, and with many gyms still closed, riding is a great way to maintain your fitness. But, one key responsibility that comes with owning a bike is keeping it clean. With so many moving bike parts, prolonged exposure to mud, grime, and debris can affect the ride quality and promote faster deterioration of such parts. Cleaning your road bike or mountain bike properly takes just a few minutes, but doing so regularly will save you from expensive repairs and replacements later down the line and prolong the life of the bike.
Start with the frame
Start by hosing gently hosing down the frame to get rid of any loose dirt. Avoid using a pressure washer for this as it could force water into the bearings, which could damage your bike. Next, spray your bike with a bike cleaning product and check the label to see how much time you should leave it on. If you don’t have a dedicated bike cleaning product, do a test patch before using any other product. Some cleaners have chemicals that can color fade your frame or, even worse, damage the protective layer on the anodized aluminum used to make bike parts. After letting your cleaner sit for a few minutes, use a bucket of warm soapy water and a soft brush to scrub off all dirt and grime, working from the top down. Finish by rinsing all the parts in the order you cleaned them with a bucket of clean water.
Focus on the drivetrain
You must give your drivetrain — front chainrings, rear derailleur, rear cassette, and chain — special attention to prolong its life. Start by spraying it all down with an eco-friendly degreaser and let it sit for the recommended amount of time. Using a gear brush, give it a good scrub while making sure that you get into the cassette cogs. If your drivetrain had too much grime or still looks dirty after a scrub, you might want to use a chain cleaning device, which will be more thorough and less messy. Once the drivetrain is clean, give the entire bike one last rinse and use clean rags to dry it.
Once everything is dry, it’s time to do some finishing touches for both aesthetic and durability reasons. Start by giving your frame a proper spray wax to get that optimal level of shine you’re looking for. When done, you should be able to see your own reflection or the sun glimmering off the frame. Next, apply some drops of lubricant to every moving part starting with the chain then the brakes and pivot points on the dérailleurs. Lubrication is vital to maintain good performance and to protect your bike from excessive wear caused by friction and rust. Remember to wipe off the excess lubricant as it could attract dirt.
Keeping your bike clean is crucial not only for good performance but also to prevent excessive deterioration of key parts. A regular cleaning schedule is important — it could be monthly, weekly, or even daily if you love riding in muddy areas. Check out our great selection of bike maintenance tools including degreasers, cleaners, and brushes, as well as, lube, and polish and protectants.