Do you remember that new bike feeling? It’s very similar to that new car feeling. That smell, the cleanliness, the efficiency of a perfectly functional machine. At first you carefully set down towels in the back seat, covering every inch of upholstery as humanly possible, before your sandy dog leaps in, sand spraying in all directions after a fun morning at the beach. You avoid driving on gravel roads, so that the dust doesn’t settle on your shiny new car. And at some point the new car loses its shine, and we become a little less precious about smudge marks on the windows.
I am unfortunately guilty of this. Though recently I found the energy to wash AND vacuum my car. Yes, thats right, both inside and outside. And my car is gleaming. My bike however is gritty.
I have been riding in the rain again. Yup. Not highly enjoyable conditions to endure. But what can you do when you are caught out on an early Christmas Day ride?
Bike cleanliness can be likened to hair washing routines during summer time. When you are visiting the beach up to three times a day and your hair ends up salty, sandy, and sometimes little bits of seaweed tangled in there. What’s the point in washing it, if its just going to happen all over again the very next day? Really, washing your hair would be a complete waste of time, not to mention wasting the valuable resources of shampoo and conditioner.
So if you are riding everyday, and the weather is a little damp, is there any point to washing it? While the whole “clean bike” feeling may be short lived, though there are definitely lots of advantages for giving your bike a quick clean. The first being that maintaining your bike and keeping it clean extends the life of your chain, cogs and other bike bits and bobs. Saving you money (for coffee) in the long run. And the very close second, is because your bike looks much much prettier when its clean and sparkly. Both are very important, and its a win win situation. Clean pretty bike, more money in your pocket (or your coffee pocket aka coffee mug).
So let’s step our way through cleaning your devoted stead, and get your bike back on the road ASAP in all her sparkling glory.
There are a couple of ways that you can set up your bike and gear for the big clean. If you have access to a work stand, you can use that to bring your bike off the ground. This makes accessing those nooks and crannies for cleaning a lot easier. Though if like me, you don’t have one you can just flip your bike over. Make sure that the surface is okay, and won’t damage your hoods or seat. I know, I know, this is a highly complicated process. Bare with me!
There are a couple of tools which I have purchased over the years that make cleaning a bike more efficient. These include chain cleaner, degreaser, sprocket cleaner, brushes, hose, buckets, and gloves. A workstand is something still on my wish list.
My latest discovery is the something called “The Grunge Brush”, and frankly, I am in love. This is a fantastic tool and I think everyone should have one! We shall come back to this later on…
When I wash my bike, I like to have one bucket, where all things oily end up. As well as access to some running water. You can call me a princess if you please, but I also like to wear some bright yellow washing up gloves when I clean my bike. If I don’t wear gloves, I often find myself spending more time scrubbing oil from my finger nails than I do cleaning my bike.
Gloves keep YOU clean, while you get your bike sparkling!
Okay, lets get started!
Step one, put some degreaser over the dirty bits (chainring, rear cassette, and derailleurs), let it sit there for a little while while you clean away elsewhere.
The chain is always a great place to start, as it tends to be the dirtiest. A couple of years ago I purchased a chain cleaner (which looks like a blue box with brushes inside it) and I absolutely loved it. But as I mentioned above, I recently stumbled across something called “The Grunge Brush” and have fallen in love all over again. It does an amazing job on making the chain sparkle, and isn’t as fiddly as the other blue box that I once used to clean my chain.
You simply place the chain amongst the bristles, and then spin the chain through the brush. And ta-da…. Bike’s got bling again. I could keep going on and on about how much I love this brush, and for those of you who have ridden with me lately would have heard about it for sure. It’s worth investing in one.
Keep that degreaser handy and grab those brushes, its time to get the chainring clean! Using the soapy water from one of your buckets, dip your brush in and then scrub the chainring. Move your chain from the big and small chain ring and use your sprocket cleaner to get in and clean clean clean. Then rinse with non-soapy water. Simple hey?
This is my favourite part of the bike to clean. I think its because it gets that sparkly look when its super clean (see photo below, oh yeah! I bet you all have rear cassette envy now hey?). Using soapy water, and the sprocket cleaner get in around the teeth and cogs. Rinse. And repeat for extra shiny and sparkly results!
Frame and Wheels:
And lastly the frame. Use a soft sponge or cloth over the frame and wheels. Remember to not use water from the bucket that is now all oily, we don’t want to get oil over our bike. Once you have finished, use the hose again (not on a high setting) gently rinse off any remaining suds. You can then dry your bike down, or let her drip dry.
It is important to apply some oil after you clean your bike. You can pick up some chain oil from your local bike shop. Apply the lubricant to the chain and rear cassette and freewheel the chain backwards for a couple of rotations. Clean off any excess oil. And you are ready to go!
Charge up your Garmin, and rest your legs! Its time to go and enjoy some of those clean bike feels! And when are doing your post ride park up at your local coffee shop, make sure your bike is in clear view for all to see. Show off that sparkling rear cassette to your fellow lycra clad friends. They will be so envious. Cassette envy at it’s finest.
Enjoy your next ride, I hope its clean and fast!
Safe riding xx