Elegance in road cycling begins with a sparkling bike. Yet somehow, few of us consider cleaning our steed a true labour of love. Done properly, a clean bike will perform better, and will give you more confidence in the peloton. To help you embrace the task, here are the four easy steps that our own mechanics follow when cleaning bikes. Once dialed in, this full scrub-down will take no more than 20 minutes, and should be done every two weeks, or after each rainy ride (don’t let that gunk settle).
Step #1 - Clean your chain:
This may seem unusual, but cleaning your chain will create a bit of its own mess, so doing this first prevents you from cleaning your wheels, and stays, twice. Begin by hoisting your bike into your favourite home workstand. A workstand will keep your bike locked into place, is much easier on your body (instead of bending over and reaching), and makes the task much faster. Next, attack the chain with this chain cleaner kit. Our mechanics like it because the mechanism prevents most splashing, it’s so potent that you only need ~5 crankarm revolutions to clean up (a few more if it’s super filthy), and the Clean Streak liquid dries completely, since it’s alcohol-based. Even if you don’t have the whole cleaner kit, apply some Clean Streak into a rag, and run it over the chain. Look, your chain’s shiny!
Step #2: Degrease:
The next step is to remove all grease & oil from your bike. Spray some Citrus Degreaser into a rag, and wipe onto your cranks, chainrings, cassette, both derailleurs and brake calipers. This stuff works like a charm. Now really go nuts by directly spraying the pivot points on both derailleurs and brake calipers.
Step #3 - Rinse your entire bike:
If your bike was really grimey, and there’s still gunk on your frameset and wheels, it’s time to draw a bath. If you’re ‘old school’ that means making a bucket of gentle soapy water, and applying it with a variety of brushes. If you’re ‘new school’, spray some cleaning agent into an old rag/tshirt, and wipe. The idea is to take all the remaining grit off. Your bike should now be looking more like the beauty queen that she is. If you’re really in a loving mood, give it some showroom polish for that extra glow.
Step #4 - Relubricate:
Clean thoughts, people. Drip some lighter-weight oil, such as 1-Step, onto the pivot points of both derailleurs and brake calipers. Last step is applying chain-specific oil. For drier conditions (sunny days, asphalt roads) we recommend this Dry Lube. For harsher conditions (rain, gravel), we recommend this Wet Lube. And that’s it! You’re done.
Bike maintenance is something most of us try to avoid, but this kind of scrubbing and relubrication will keep your bike working tip-top, and can save you hundreds of dollars in replacement parts in the long run. Now that your bike is beautiful, get out there and ride.