How To Wash And Care For Your Bike
To keep your bike running smoothly and ensure that the components will last, wash your bike at least once a week - especially in the winter. Washing your bike is a great way to get close to it and inspect every aspect of its workings. Water gets into everything and therefore Into all the sensitive parts of your bike, so it's best to wash your bike with care. Wear some wellies, rubber gloves and waterproof clothing, as you will then be able to concentrate on the job properly. Pressure (Jet) washers are certainly Quick, but are also lazy and generally not a good idea for cleaning your bike as they tend to blow water Into sealed units such as the headsets, forks, hubs and bottom brackets.
They also ruin your cables and blow all the lubricant off your chain. Worse still, with complicated full suspension linkages, which can easily be neglected. the water will quickly turn bearings to rust and seize up your pivots and bushings. So, it's far better to hand-wash your bike with a sponge and brush; this way your bike will last longer and perform better. Find a suitable area to clean your bike. Be aware that you will need plenty of water and that the byproducts from a mountain bike can be quite messy. Therefore, a concrete area with a water supply and a drain is best. Always clean the floor with a stiff brush when you have finished as the de-greasing fluids can make the floor very slippery.
- brushes (large to toothbrush size)
- portable workstand
- spray-on bike wash
- strong de-greaser (citrus ones are good) for drivetrain parts
- chain-cleaning device
- sprocket cleaner (narrow brush to get between gaps)
Always clean the underside of the saddle and the seatpost first. This is so you can place the bike into the work stand before you wash the rest of your bike (most work stand clamps hold the seatpost) and also because it's best to start at the top of the bike and work down, so you don't get muck on stuff you have already washed.
Use a brush and a sponge to get the worst of the mud off. If you are using a hosepipe, it's best to do this while the bike is still wet once the mud is dry it gets far harder to shift. If you have space in your car, take your washing kit and a jerry can of water with you when you travel to the trails or races, so you can wash your bike before the dirt has a chance to do any damage
Remove both of the wheels as they are far easier to dean when they are out of the bike. This will also give you access to the inside of the rear triangle and swing-arm mechanism, and will allow you to swing the bike around easily in the workstand.
Place a chain guide in the drop-out and wrap the chain over it. This will help you clean the bike and chain, let you rotate the chain and cranks easily and keep the chain out of the way as you wash the rest of the bike.
Place your bike in a stand at a suitable height, so you can wash the bike without bending down too much. Soak the loose mud off first, then cover your bike in bike•washing fluid. Leave this to soak in for a few moments.
Use a spray-on de-greaser. You can dilute these cleaning sprays as they tend to be quite concentrated and powerful, and can even go 5o:5o with many of them. Be careful to read the instructions as these fluids can be caustic and affect the finish of your bike. Most are not too kind to your hands either, so it's best to wear rubber gloves.
Wash the tyres and use a stiff brush to knock the mud out of the tread. If you have V-brakes, pay particular attention to the rims, clean off all the black brake crud and inspect the rims for wear. Use an alcohol-based disc brake cleaning fluid on the rotors and be careful not to spread grease from any brushes you may have used on the cassette. This will contaminate the rotor or the pads and give you plenty of braking problems the next time you ride.
Be careful when cleaning the forks - don't spray de-greaser directly at the seals, and clean them with a sponge rather than a stiff brush. Spraying water and de-greaser into the fork internals will cause problems in the future.
Rear suspension systems can collect a lot of mud. If you don't clean off the mud, it can corrode and seize the pivots. Inspect the shock for leaks and signs of wear and tear.
Also take special care when cleaning disc brakes, as they can become contaminated with dirty oil and lubricant residue from the drivetrain. Use a clean brush and water to clean off the discs. With V-brakes you need to remove all the crud from the pads and inspect them for grit, which may have got stuck in the slots in the pad and need to be prised out. Inspect the rims for grooves where there may be wear from the pads.
Clean out the pedals and the shoe cleats using a toothbrush-sized brush. Pay special attention to the cleats if you have been walking a lot on your muddy rides, as impacted mud will make the cleats malfunction. Knock the mud out or prise it out with a screwdriver as the cleats need to be clean to work properly. Keep the pedal springs well lubricated and check their tension regularly.
Clean all the muck out of the sprockets with a suitable Implement. There are such things as sprocket cleaners, but you can just use a stiff brush. It is very important to keep the cassette clean, so sometimes it's worth removing it and giving it a thorough clean. You can then clean and inspect the hubs too.