How to Properly Clean Your Bicycle

Washing your bicycle may seem like a simple process if you are used to just hosing it down. However for those who are serious about taking proper care of their bike and keeping it not only in good shape but also performing great there are certain steps you will want to take in order to keep it clean and functioning well.

Gather your Tools

Washing your bicycle can be a messy process and having all your tools gathered in one place before you begin will make the process a lot simpler. Below is a list of tools you will need. Most of these tools can be purchased at any bike shop.

  • Bicycle Cleaning Brush
  • Bicycle Chain Scrubber – not very expensive and works like a charm!
  •  Junlan $10 Off All Over $59.99
  • Small Pan or Bowl
  • Degreasing Solvent
  • Chain Lubricant
  • Two Buckets
  • Rags and or Sponges
  • Soap
  • Water Hose
  • Repair Stand – Although not everyone uses a bike repair stand for cleaning their bicycle, it is recommended as it will hold you bike in place so you can take care of the details. A recommended brand that suits most cyclists is the Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Bike Repair Stand.

Let’s Begin…

Now that the tools are gathered, you’ve changed into some old clothes (an apron works great as you will likely get grease on you) fill up your buckets with warm water and add your soap of choice to one of the buckets.

If you are lucky enough to own a bike repair stand then clean the area of your bike first that you will be clamping, then attach the bicycle repair stand jaws and adjust so bike is stable and steady.

Start with the Chain

From there it is best to start with the dirtiest and grittiest of jobs… cleaning the chain and drive train. This is a job that most people don’t enjoy doing but if you have purchased a chain scrubber it will go much faster and be far simpler.

First remove your chain and if you are using the chain scrubber just follow directions. If not then pour some degreasing solvent into a small pan or bowl and soak the chain in the solvent. Leave it for a minute or two and then remove from solvent and and scrub with your bicycle cleaning brush.

Put chain back into the solvent (if solvent is extremely dirty you may need to replace with new solvent) and soak for another minute or two. Then remove the chain and wipe with a rag. After this process put the chain in your bucket of warm soapy water and repeat this process. The combination of cleaning with the solvent and then the soap and water works really well.

Tip: Be sure to towel dry with a rag when finished and be sure to remove all of the solvent before putting the chain back on your bike.

Next Clean the Derailleur Cage and Pulley Wheel and the Chainrings

For this next part you will need to use your solvent and your cleaning brush. Dip your brush into the solvent and then brush the derailleur cage, the derailleur pulley wheel and the chainrings clean. Take extra care not to drip the solvent into the bottom bracket bearings or into the hub.

Cleaning the Wheels and the Rear Gears

Depending on how dirty your wheels and rear gears are you may need to remove them from the bicycle. Use your brush to remove all dirt and grime.

If you want to remove your wheels to make the process easier you can. Keep scrubbing with the brush and the solvent to clean each part of the wheel. You may need to use a sponge in order to clean between the spokes and the rim.

Cleaning the Frame

Cleaning the frame of your bike is fairly straight forward. Use solvent if needed or use your sponge with soapy water. Use your brush for harder to reach places.

The Final Rinse

For the final rinse down use your water hose on low pressure and spray the bike from the top down. Allow the bike to completely dry and then add a lubricant on the chain, pulley wheels, pivot points and cables.

Now will your bike not only look fantastic but it will perform better as well. Get the proper tools and keep your bike clean in order to prolong its life and keep it in top notch shape.

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