Cleaning Your Bike

When cleaning your bike follow these simple steps.

Collect the following materials before you start and you'll find the process is much easier and will take you less time to complete:

  • a "whisk" brush with a good handle (usually sold with a dustpan)
  • dish soap
  • bucket
  • chain solvent (Super Clean)
  • rubber gloves (if you don't want to get dirty)
  • rubbing alcohol
  • Park cog cleaning brush ($8 at bike shops everywhere)
  • toothbrush
  • Scotchbrite scrub pad (green furnace filter/dish scrubbing item)
  • emery cloth (not sandpaper)
  • small sponge
  • car wax (Turtle Wax)
  • rags or soft cloths
Start by applying water to your bike at a low pressure. Next, mix a few tablespoons of dish soap with water in a bucket, and using the whisk brush, whip the soap and water into a frothy lather. Pick up the frothy lather with your brush and apply it to the dirtiest parts of your bike. Let the suds soak into the dirt, then scrub. Note, use soapy water to clean your bike, as cleaning it dry causes dirt particles to scratch the finish. Once these steps are done, rinse off your bike. Check your bike, if you missed spots use the brush to clean them up, then rinse again.

Now clean the drivetrain -- chain, cogs, chainrings, derailleurs (this part should be very oily). First, set the chain on the middle of the cogset and the middle chainring. Sit by the rear left side of the bike, hold the solvent in your right hand and drip or spray it into the chain, as you rotate the crankarms backwards with your left hand. Soak the chain through one full revolution, then spray the cogset itself, and both sides of the crankset. Let the bike sit for a few minutes while the solvent does its job. Using the Park cog brush, thoroughly scrub the sludge from all areas. At this point the toothbrush may be used to get into the tight spots of the crankset. Finally, rinse the drivetrain with a hose while rotating the cranks again.

Tires are a very important part of the bike. They can be scrubbed with the nail brush, and the brake track of the rims can be cleaned with the Scotchbrite or emery cloth. Do not overdo the ‘emery' cloth or you will reduce the lifespan of your rims. Use Armor All to protect your tires but be careful to avoid the rim brake tracks. Alcohol can be used to clean any additional Armor All off the rims.

Next apply a coat of wax to the frame and components with a soft clean cloth. This will ensure that dirt does not stick to the bike, and it will make it easier to clean next time.

After the chain has dried in a warm space, it is ready for lubing. Drip or spray a good bicycle-specific oil onto each chain roller, one drop per link. Take a rag, wrap it around the bottom section of the chain, and wipe off excess oil as you turn the cranks to draw the chain through. Let the oiled chain sit overnight so the lube can soak into the chain. Now your clean bike is ready to ride