How and when do I clean my bike?

Posted on 1st May 2024 | Anastassiya Siner

The age old question, when to clean your bike? The simple answer is when it’s dirty! 

World tour team mechanics will wash; re lube; do a nut & bolt check with a tune up and inspect bikes for damage at the end of every stage race. However we’re not all pro riders, but in order to prolong the life of a bike and it’s smooth and efficient running nothing could not be more important than a regular de-greasing of the drivetrain. Of course, too often and any grease protecting the bearings and components will be washed away needing more regular service. Hence why pressure washers are not advised, or at least not held too close to the bike.

Method

  • Hose down the bike to remove any loose grit to not damage the paint work. 
  • Next best to start off at the drivetrain with a bicycle friendly de-greaser and using a brush to scrub away any dirt, grime and sand. Not to miss the crucial front & rear derailleurs and paying extra attention to the chain. Same goes for mechanical pull rim brakes. 
  • A bucket and sponge filled with noncorrosive soap and water will go a long way, starting at the bars and working your way all around the frame and wheels with the sponge, don’t forget under the saddle where a lot of that road grime can build up. Use a different brush to wash the drivetrain.
  • Hose down to clear away any soap.
  • For disc brakes and hydraulic systems only alcohol is recommended to clean the calipers and brake pads (no de-greaser), anything else will contaminate the disc pads and rotors, there’s nothing more annoying than those squealing brakes. Wipe down the frame with a clean rag/towel and the chain with another.
  • A polish to protect the frame and make it shine to finish off. 

Its much easier to clean a well maintained bike than it is an ignored one, any damage or loose parts will stand out and you’ll easily notice once you get hands on. 

Depending on conditions and type of bike, cleaning every 300-600 km for a road bike would not hurt and if you rode through mud then it needs a clean. 

Re-Lube

What’s just as important is the re-lube, for our hot and dusty conditions it’s recommended to use a dry or wax based lube on the chain as a wet one will pick up too much grit. A silicone based spray lube is also ideal to keep the derailleurs, shifters and mechanical pull brakes in top condition. 

And remember…A clean bike is a fast bike.

By Jordan Colledge, Head Mechanic Vélo Presto

Bike Servicing

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