It’s beginning to warm up across the country, which means riding season is right around the corner. And this is a friendly reminder to wash your bike. We know, we know, we know… You don’t want to wash your bike. But, by giving your bike a bath now, you will be dialed in for your next ride–AND extend the life of your bike and its (soon to be shiny) components.
What You Need:
• Water Hose
• (2) Beers
• (2) Sponges
• Chain Lube
1. Prep (Drink first beer here if you are legal drinking age)
Remove all accessories from your bike. If your bike has holes in the frame for internal cable routing, cover those holes so you don’t get water in the frame. Some people fill those holes with silicone to avoid getting water in their frames as a long term solution, but that’s completely up to you.
Don’t be shy when degreasing. Get all up in your drivetrains business–completely degreasing your crank, chain, and cassette.
If you don’t have bike brushes, a roommate’s toothbrush will do. Sometimes your chain has frozen links, or is one large frozen link, and a chain washer often helps. How does it work? Fill up your chain washer to the line with chain cleaner, insert your chain, push your pedals until the liquid inside turns black and your chain is clean.
Clean all of the dust, grease, and mud off your bike using gentle pressure from a water hose. It’s recommended to avoid using pressure washers on your bike so you don’t get water in your bearings, remove frame decals, or lift chipped paint. That is unless your pressure washer was made for bikes.
Fill a bucket with soap and water, and start wiping your bike frame down with sponge #1. Let’s call him “Spongy.” Dawn is my favorite soap because it removes grease. Using two separate sponges for this stage will help save your frame from unnecessary scratches. Use sponge #1, or “Spongy” for your frame, bars, and saddle. Use sponge #2, let’s call him “Scratchy,” for greasy/gunky stuff like your chain, crankset, and derailleur pulleys. That way you’re not scuffing up your frame or saddle with Scratchy. Pro Tip – Warm water results in more suds and a cleaner bike. It’s science.
5. Rinse (Drink second beer here)
Use a hose to rinse all of the suds from your bike. Thankfully using a hose only requires one hand, so you can use the other for beer.
Dry your bike off with a chamois or microfiber towel. Pro Tip – You can even use socks in a pinch, or if you’re feeling lazy after two beers. Although that’s not an “official” recommendation :).
It may be tempting to skip this step, but don’t. Make sure to lube your entire chain. Experts recommend letting your bike sit for a few hours with the new lube before you ride. But the big takeaway here is DON’T ride your degreased chain without reapplying lube. Bonus points for lubing your brake cable where it enters the housing near your brake levers and derailleurs.
The final step is the most important. Make sure to admire how great your bike now looks. The good news is, you don’t need to do all of this every time you ride. In most cases, if you keep your drivetrain clean and wipe your bike down after each ride you’ll be fine.