Monday, 6 May 2013

Hints and Tips: Maintenance: Bike Cleaning Routine

Cleaning your bike can be a bit of a chore, and it can take up precious time.
Here is a little 10 step routine that I use to try and make the cleaning process as quick and as efficient as possible.

(1)  Set the bike up in a workstand if you have one, or if not, rest it so that you can walk around it and rotate the cranks with ease.

(2)  Wash the bike down with a hose, make sure everything gets a good soaking, it will help to start loosening the dried-on dirt. Spray the whole bike with a cleaning compound such as Weldtite Dirtwash. Then leave the compound on the bike whilst you work on the chain...

(3)  Spray the chain with a degreaser, and again leave this to work its magic for a few minutes. You can use a chain-bath on a really mucky chain, but in my experience a spray-on degreaser is kinder on the chain, as it leaves some beneficial lubricant inside the chain rollers. 

(4)  After a few minutes, during which time the degreaser has had time to do its work, use a sprocket brush to clean the sprockets, jockey wheels, chainrings and chain. This should be as easy as just brushing the dirt off. The Weldtite sprocket brush has a great assortment of different bristles to help get into all the hard to reach places. To clean the chain, hold the brush against the chain as it turns a corner (so it is opened up) and rotate the cranks so the chain slowly runs through the bristles.  

(5)  Optional: If you want to get your cassette really clean, you can take the rear wheel out of the bike and clean the cassette separately. One of the easiest and most effective ways of doing this is using a product like the Weldtite G-Strings, these are a pipe-cleaner like floss that can get between the cogs, and is reusable when washed with degreaser.

(6)  Once all the dirt on the drivechain is loosened with the sprocket brush, wash it all off with the hose. Make sure you wash all the degreaser off. You don't want that stuff left on your chain.

(7)  Right, that's the chain clean, onto the rest of the bike... The cleaning compound has been on the bike a good few minutes now, and as a result it should have loosened most of the grime. Grab a soft brush or a sponge and go over the whole bike to really shift the muck. A brush has the benefit that you can reach the harder to get to places better than a sponge.

(8)  Make sure you clean the rims thoroughly with the brush too; grit and grime that gets stuck to the rim act as a great grinding compound for your brake pads and the rims; keep them clean and both will last longer.

(9)  Once all that is done, give the bike one last good spray over again with the hose. Wash off all the loosened grime, and all the cleaner; leaving the bike sparkling.

(10)  Dry the bike off with an old towel, dry the chain off with an old rag too. If you want to get a good shine, spray an old cloth with some aerosol lubricant/water displacer and wipe the bike over, it will leave a shiny coating that both looks good and will help the muck to wash off easier next time.
To care for the chain, follow the advice on my blogpost Choosing Your Chainlube.

That's it. Job done. 10 quick steps to a shiny, efficient and well cared for machine.
Look after your bike; it will look better and perform better for it. 

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