When: after every ride. Yes, every ride. Do you take a shower after you get sweaty, wet and muddy? Okay. Take care of your bike and your bike will take care of you.
The following supplies will make cleaning your bike easy, breezy:
- 1 bucket
- 1 garden hose
- Kitchen gloves
- Dish soap, Dr. Bronner’s soap
- 1 sponge, non-abrasive scrubby brushes (I’ve seen people clean dirty cx bikes with toilet bowl brushes, but haven’t tried this method), rags, towels
- Bio Clean, Simple Green (or similar biodegradable degreaser product)
- Bike Lust (or some similar product)
- Chain lube
- Rubber boots
- Bike stand
I live in Montana and the outdoor hose spigot gets turned off in early-November to prevent the pipes from freezing. Yes, it gets that cold here. If you don’t have access to an outdoor hose, not to worry, grab a bucket, fill it with warm soapy water and clean your bike!
After your ride, clean yourself up, drink your recovery drink and eat a snack. Then put on your rubber boots and go clean your bike.
If you have a bike stand, toss your bike on the stand, remove front & rear wheels. If you don’t have a bike stand, lean your bike against a building or against something stable so your bike doesn’t fall over or get scratched during the cleaning process.
Put on your kitchen gloves to protect your skin and prevent your hands from freezing.
Clean your bike with warm soapy water. Spray your bike and your bike’s drive train with a biodegradable degreaser. Let the degreaser soak in and work its magic. Scrub the grease, grime, dirt, mud, grass, sand, snow and ice off your bike’s nooks and crannies with sponge, scrubby brush or whatever you have.
If you are using a hose, crank up the volume to create your own “power washer.” If your bike is covered in frozen mud and snow, take your bike to the carwash and hose it off with the power wash soapy sprayer. It works!
After your bike is clean, wipe and dry your bike off with a clean towel. Spray some Bike Lust on your bike (or whatever product you use to make your bike look shiny and new).
Next: clean your bike’s chain. Since the chain is likely damp, the dirt and grit launched into your bike’s chain should come off pretty easily. Grab a rag and clean your chain. Look at all the grime and grease that just came off your chain. Nasty! Repeat cleaning process. Then apply a thin coating of bike chain lube to your sparkling clean chain. Check shifting. Check brakes. Check cables. Clean wheels, tires, rims. Voila, clean bike.
I’m not a bike mechanic, but I do know that a little bike maintenance goes a long way in helping to keep your bike rolling along. Regular bike maintenance helps me learn more about my bike. If during the cleaning process I discover something isn’t working properly, I’ll bring my bike to my favorite mechanic for some bike love.
A clean bike is a happy bike (until you launch it into sand, mud, dirt and snow).