Everything needs a good clean once in a while. Our cars often get good treatment, and so do our homes. But what about our bikes? Sure, bikes are pretty low maintenance. But there’s a difference between low maintenance and no maintenance. Cleaning your bike is an important step to keeping it in good working order.
An unclean bike will deteriorate quicker than a clean one, as things like rust start to take hold. Luckily, though, cleaning your bike is easy. In fact, it’s so easy that you’ll wonder why you don’t do it more often! Here are a few basic tips for cleaning your bike.
Treat your bike like you would your car – cleaning your bike with warm soapy water is a good start
The most simple approach to cleaning your bike is the same one you would use to clean your car. Simply use some warm water, mixed with car detergent, and gently sponge it over your bike. It’s important that you sponge, rather than hose – but we’ll go into that later. Gently sponge the frame, the rims, the handlebars, and the seat, before rinsing it with a sponge dipped in clean freshwater. Then, let your bike sit for a while to dry.
Old grease can do more harm than good: a light coat of chain degreaser is useful when cleaning your bike
Once your bike is dry, you can check its condition more easily. If you can see some old grease on your chains, you may need to do something about it. But how can you recognise old grease? Generally, it looks like small clumps of dirt in your chain. Those clumps are a mixture of dirt and grease, which combine to form an abrasive paste-like substance. It can actually add friction to your bike! If you’ve got that on your bike, use some degreaser to get rid of it. Degreaser is available in most hardware stores, and it will get rid of that old grease far better than anything else. Once that’s take care of, let it dry. You’ll notice afterwards, that your chain looks much cleaner.
Of course, make sure you regrease your chain after cleaning your bike! Here’s why
Of course, a clean chain is still going to cause too much friction without lubrication! So get some WD40 or a similar water dispersant, and apply it to your chain liberally. These products are useful for two reasons. Firstly, they keep water from reacting with your chain to cause rust. And secondly, they reduce friction in your chain when it turns. That means a smoother riding bike, that will last for longer.
Watch out for your brakes when cleaning your bike – try to avoid getting them wet, or greasy
It’s important to be aware of your brakes when cleaning your bike. Brakes don’t go well with water, or lubricants! Brakes want as much friction as possible. So when you’re spraying lubricant on your chain, make sure your brakes are protected. We also don’t advise hosing your bike, because it could risk water ingress in your brake lines, if you’ve got hydraulic disc brakes. Finally, make sure your bike is dry before you take it for a spin!
Cleaning your bike frequently is important, but so is a professional service
Cleaning your bike frequently, using a few of those tips, will keep it shiny for many years to come. Better still, it will keep it moving smoothly. But there’s more than just cleaning involved in long term bike care. You also need sound mechanical maintenance. Just like a car, you bike needs periodic services.
So chat with the professionals at Hoffy Cycles, and get your bike the care it needs as soon as possible!