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How to clean your bike and bicycle maintenance
When returning from a muddy ride or a weekend trip away, the last thing you want to think about is cleaning your bike! While it can be tempting to put it in the garage to postpone cleaning until next weekend, without regular cleaning, brakes seize up, gears become tight, and the frame can start to rust. By giving it a quick clean regularly, whether that’s monthly, weekly or more often (depending on your type of riding), it makes your ride smoother and saves money in the long run! We have put together a quick guide on how to help clean and maintain your bike:
- Work stand (optional)
- At least 2 brushes (both coarse to get rid of dirt)
- A sponge and soap
- Hose and bucket
- Chain cleaner or degreaser
- Toothbrush if you don’t have a second coarse brush (optional)
- Clean cloth for the disk brakes
- Cloth for drying
- Detergent (optional)
1) Cleaning the drivetrain
We normally always start by cleaning the drivetrain using a separate brush. This doesn’t have to be a particularly special or expensive brush, so long as you use two different brushes; one for the drivetrain and one for the rest of the bike. Using the same brush can put the grease and dirt from the wheel onto the rest of the bike and damage the brake pads. Getting rid of the dirt from the hard-to-reach places is essential, so if you want to kit yourself out, check out the Muc-Off brushes. Alternatively, a simple coarse brush from any supermarket would do the trick!
2) The chain
Make sure to wipe the chain first before applying any chain cleaner so the excess dirt doesn’t block the chain. If you don’t have a chain cleaner, use a bit of degreaser and a brush to give the chain a good clean. If you don’t have a secondary coarse brush, toothbrushes do a good job!
3) Cleaning disk brakes
Wipe your disk brakes by using a damp (not wet!) cloth. Make sure to avoid the chain otherwise the degreaser previously applied and any muck may find its way onto the rotor! We normally use a microfibre cloth to clean the brakes, but any clean and damp cloth will do.
4) Give your bike a sponge down
Using a bucket of warm soapy water and a sponge, wet the frame to get rid of any excess dirt. You can also use a detergent if required at this point, if you are struggling to remove it. Give the whole bike a hose down, then use a hose to remove the remaining mud that has built up. If you are using a power washer, make sure that the power is turned down, so it doesn’t take the paint off your bike!
5) Get your brush out!
After a few cleans, you will work out what cleaning direction is best for you, whether that is front to back or top to bottom. Use the warm soapy water in the previous step to help scrub off any ingrained dirt and muck. Please make sure that the water is fresh and remember to spin each wheel, once clean to remove excess water. If you use CLUG, you may want to look at the vacuum mount (photographed below) to help stand your bike up for cleaning. Mount your bicycle vertically or horizontally on any smooth surface such as walls, glass and even the side of your car or van!
6) Treat your bike to a dry down
Such a crucial step, but one that often gets missed. Drying your bike stops any rust and damage. Although it may be a menial task, it’s an essential one! If you want to treat yourself to a new cloth solely for drying your bike, the Muc-Off microfibre cloth is ideal for this very purpose. If you don’t want to spend money, you can use a dishcloth or hand towel to get the excess water off the frame and wheels. Try and get into all the nooks so that there is no risk of rust!
7) The final stage
Make sure to lube your chain while spinning the pedals (you may need to prop your bike up to do this, if you don't have a bike stand). Replacing the lube on your bike will not only help your bike on its next ride, but it will ensure that in the long run your chain and brakes will last much longer!
If you are short for time, these steps won’t take you long. Doing it regularly and building it into your riding routine will make your bike last much longer, as well as your ride much smoother, no matter what the weather throws at you.