A clean bike is a fast bike. Not only is it a fast bike, it’s a healthy bike. Debris and small particles can get in your drivetrain and with your drivetrain constantly moving, they can act like a sandpaper grinding your drivetrain and parts away. This obviously equals to a shorter lifespan of your drivetrain, which is not the most financially efficient. If money is not a problem, maybe decreased performance may be a motivating factor for you to clean your bike. We might not have the factual evidence that a dirty drivetrain can hinder performance but let’s just say a drivetrain is a piece of machinery that is supposed to work most efficiently clean, and leaving dirt and grime on it just doesn’t feel like the thing you would do to any machine. Above all this, it just feels very wrong to leave a dirty drivetrain dirty when you love your bike, as we do.
How often you clean your bike depends on how often you ride and how dirty the roads are, which also determines how dirty your bike gets. Some of us here at Bike Mart SG clean our bikes after every ride. Some of us do it once a week. Think about it this way; just clean your bike as often as you can, and just don’t leave a dirty grimy bike.
So you are going to clean your bike now. Here’s 5 tips you can use while cleaning your bike.
Tip 1 – Inspect your bike when cleaning it
This first tip isn’t a tip about cleaning your bike per se. But it is certainly about your bike, and your bike maintenance. Take the opportunity to inspect your bike when cleaning it. You’re going to spend some time cleaning your bike. You’re going to get into the corners, the crooks and the crannies. Use that opportunity to inspect your frame for any cracks or damage. Check for any metal objects or small stones lodged into your tires. Check your drivetrain. It’s a good habit to have, and a good practice to carry out. This way, you know your bike’s all good and ready to ride after cleaning.
Tip 2 – Use a variety of brushes.
You can use a sponge while cleaning your frame and wheels. We personally use car sponges on our own bikes. However, you need a couple of different brushes to work on that grimy drivetrain. Your drivetrain can get real grimy, with built up gunk from lubrication and debris from the road. Use a variety of brushes to wash it. You can use a paint brush to apply degreaser on your chain and drivetrain. After which, you can use a slightly harder-bristled brush to clean the chain. There are certain brushes designed to get into the tight spaces between your chainwheels and cassettes.
Three different brushes designed to tackle different parts of your drive train. (Photo by Muc-Off)
Additional tip: If you have old toothbrushes lying around, you can use those for your chain and drivetrain too.
An old toothbrush works nicely.
Tip 3 – Shower caps for the bike wash
If you’re using disc brakes and a spray-on degreaser, you don’t really want to get any of that degreaser into your brakes, brake rotors and brake pads. That is an absolute no-no. Degreasers in your brake pads will damage them and render them useless. A cool hack is to cover your disc brakes and disc rotor with a shower cap. This will protect the disc rotors and brake pads from any degreaser sprayed over. You can also use a shower cap to cover your saddle if you don’t want to get it wet.
Tip 4 – Get a bike stand
You can clean your bike without a bike stand, definitely. You don’t need it at all. But a bike stand makes cleaning, washing and even working on your bike much easier. Bike stands come in all shapes and sizes. A mechanic’s work stand would be ideal if you can afford the space but may not be the most practical in smaller spaces.
A mechanic work stand
Tip 5 – Get some sort of pressure spray
You can probably get away with just a pail. You can get the job done, of course. But a pressured spray makes it so much easier and makes the cleaning job more efficient. If you live in a house with a backyard, you probably have water access in the backyard or garage and you can just get yourself a spray attachment and hose.
However, if you live in a HDB apartment like most of us, our tip is to go to a HDB multi storey carpark that’s equipped with a pressurised spray. Most newer HDB multi storey carparks will come equipped with this spray.
Most HDB Carparks have this now! (Photo by roads.sg)
Additional tip: Turn the feature on to mist! Don’t use a hard spray and spray it on your frame. A mist feature works nice. Also, don’t spray it into your bearing areas! Headsets, hubs, BB! Take care and precaution when cleaning these parts with water and try not to spray directly into them as this will force water into those areas.
Additional tip 2: If you absolutely absolutely cannot get yourself access to a spray, use a pressurized garden watering spray bottle! It works better than a pail.
A pressurized watering spray bottle.