OK, so cleaning your bike probably comes way down your list of things that you most like to do with it, but it’s hardly a difficult job (unless you’ve left it a really long time). Plus it’s really will help to preserve your bike and its parts. The key is to do it regularly, and in winter when conditions are at their worst, that means after every ride.
If you’re short of outside space (if you live in flat, say) and your housemates/ partner doesn’t mind, you can always clean your bike in the bath of the shower, but be sure to clean up after yourself. Otherwise, in your garden or garage, put a mat down (such as Muc-Off’s Bike Mat, £10.99, wiggle. co.uk) put your bike in a stand and follow the eight steps below.
When it comes to actually washing the bike, never use a hose or a pressure washer as they can potentially damage your bike’s paintwork as well as force out grease from bearing areas such as front and rear wheel hubs and the bottom bracket where the axle connects the two pedal cranks together – something which can cause all manner of headaches.
Instead, although you can get away with a bucket of water and a sponge, we’d recommend investing in a really good bike cleaning kit. Look for one which comes with different shaped and sized brushes for getting gunk out of hard-to-reach places. Start by spraying your bike’s frame and tyres with a good bike cleaner and let it soak in for a couple of minutes.
Now wash the cleaner off using water and a soft cleaning brush. Start from the top and work your way down to prevent you having to go over the same areas twice. Gently rub off any mud and gunk that’s been softened up by the cleaner.
Next, dunk a stiffer brush in water and begin scrubbing down the wheels and components being careful not to go too hard on any carbon parts.
Next, if you’ve got a variety of brushes available, such as a small detailing brush or a claw brush, use these to get at gunk in the nooks and crannies, such as behind the chainring and beneath the bottom bracket.
While you’re working on this area of the bike, be sure to clean the chain You can do this either with a dedicated chain cleaning tool such as a Finish Line’s Cyclone Chain Cleaner Solo or a good degreaser which you simply spray on the chain, then it clean off with a rag. The easiest way to do this is to simply grasp the chain loosely with the hand holding the rag and then turn the cranks with the other so that the chain runs right through the rag a couple of times. Be sure to lube it adequately, too.
Use a sharp craft knife to remove any grit that’s embedded in the brake pads. It’s easiest to remove the pads to do this job.
You can now give your frame a proper wipe down, using a sponge and clean water, again working from the top to the bottom, and then using a clean rag wipe all the remaining water off the frame.
Finish off by spraying bike polish all over it and giving it a final wipe down. This will leave a non-stick protective layer on your bike that’ll make it look showroom ready as well as help make cleaning it easier next time.