A clean bike is a happy bike!

So, you’ve ridden your bike hard all day, weekend, or week! Now it’s time to hang it up covered in grime, grease and grimaced induced sweat and wait for the weekend to come around and do it all again, right?  Wrong!

We’d like to present the updated version of old adage; “ride it hard and put it away dirty”…“ride it hard and put it away, washed, waxed, inspected, lubed and ready to roll!

There are several drivers for this;

  • Cleaning it now, while you have the time, removes the panic of pulling it down  before your group ride and realizing it’s filthy from the prior weekend!
  • It’s a good opportunity to give an inspection! Early identification of possible issues can save you a lot of time and money down the road; this includes, balding tires, loose bolts, worn bar tape or even worse a cracked frame!
  • A clean bike is a pleasure to ride. If your motivation is a bit low, jumping on a sparkling steed is a lot easier to do!
  • Longevity of your parts. That black chain is covered in a high friction abrasive paste is quickly grinding down you cassette and chainrings. Chances are it’s also going to ruin any item of clothing it touches!
  • A well “oiled” machine performs better, ok so we’re not oiling anything but a well maintained machine will perform better than one that’s not!
  • If you do find an issue, how happy will your mechanic be when you show up with a clean bike!

With that said now onto the cleaning. The list of parts is quite short;

The Essentials:

  • Bucket; full of hot water!
  • Sponge; car wash sponge, nice, big and spongy, color is your choice!
  • Stiff Brush; used on your cassette and chain; grout brushes are great!
  • Degreaser; we prefer Simple Green and we buy it by the gallon from Amazon
  • Spray bottle; fill 5:1 ratio of water to Simple Green
  • Dish Soap; add a good squirt to the bucket
  • Towel; for drying!
  • Chain Lube; for after you have cleaned you drivetrain. We’re big fans of Wend Wax, it’s low friction and doesn’t attract the road grime that eventually turns into that abrasive paste. One application lasts 100 miles or so.

The Optionals;

  • Car Wash shampoo; ArmorAll works great
  • Bike stand; avoids having to lay your bike down or turn it over
  • Dummy Hub; just makes life easier when messing with the chain, we like the Park Tool DH-1
  • Chain Cleaner; these are mostly all the same, we buy whatever is the cheapest at the time and we are currently using one from Finish Line
  • Frame Wax; Pedro’s Lust, we’ve been using it for over 10 years now!
  • IPA; consumed post recovery shake. A 12 ounce can should last as long as it takes to clean the bike! We opted for the refreshing Gold Cliff IPA from the Kona Brewing Company, not too hoppy with a nice sweet aftertaste!

These are the steps that we follow;

  1. Open beer…
  2. Remove accessories; Garmin, bottles, lights, seat bag!
  3. Remove wheels and mount bike on stand
  4. Move wheels to one side; spray cassette with degreaser, leave to soak in
  5. If no stand flip upside down on grass or towel and remove wheels. Don’t do this on the concrete unless you want to scratch your shifters and saddle and be an instant sad panda!
  6. Mount Dummy Hub if you have one. Spray chain and derailleurs with degreaser, leave to soak in
  7. Use stiff brush to clean chain and jockey wheels. If you’re not using a Dummy Hub be careful pulling the chain across the chain stay, watch the paintwork!
  8. Use chain cleaner to cleaner the chain. Using Simple Green works great and the earlier spray will have helped! Change the fluid once or twice until the chain is clean
  9. Wash bike with soapy sponge and water! Don’t scrimp. The hot water and soap will cut through the dirt and carry it off. Pay attention to the face of the brake blocks, the underside of downtube and between the chain-stays, wash all the sweat off…it’s corrosive!
  10. Rinse bike; a gentle shower from a hose is all you need, not a jet wash, you’re just rinsing it off!
  11. Wipe dry with towel
  12. Use the soapy water to wash the wheels spokes, hubs and tires. Use this time to inspect the tires too!
  13. Clean the cassette; using the stiff brush and the degreaser it’s a liberal application of elbow grease that’s going to get it clean! If it’s almost clean, spend another 5 minutes doing it!
  14. Rinse the wheels; again a gentle shower, no need to blast them, just wash the suds off
  15. Wipe dry with towel
  16. Remount wheels
  17. Hold onto and gently bounce the bike on the tires to knock all the excess water off
  18. Give a final wipe dry
  19. Wax frame; makes it shiny and new!
  20. Lube chain
  21. Finally place your accessories on charge and throw the empty beer can in recycling trashcan!

So that’s it! Think of it as more of a guideline than a prescriptive set of steps.

Do you need to do this every ride, every week or every month…we can’t say for sure.

What we can suggest is to take a look at your bike and ask yourself the question…is it dirty and listen to the answer!

We’ll see you out there!



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