If you own a bike and make regular use of it, then all too quickly mud and dirt will build up in the hard-to-reach areas. Believe it or not, a dirty bike can significantly affect its performance, not only reducing its lifespan, but also making it potentially dangerous for you whilst riding it.
If you’ve allowed a large build-up of dirt and grime to affect your bike, then cleaning and lubing it can help increase its longevity whilst improving overall performance, particularly its brakes and transmission.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Hot water
- Rubber gloves
- Washing-up liquid
- Old toothbrush
- Bristly brush
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Chain Lube
- Lint-free cloths (optional)
Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning and Greasing your Bike
The following guide focuses on cleaning and greasing the important parts of the bike, specifically the elements that will noticeably impact on its performance. While there is nothing wrong with giving your bike a quick clean on a weekly-basis, note that if the main elements of your bike undergo a deeper, more vigorous clean on a less regular basis, then this will help improve overall performance and ensure a longer lifespan.
- Clean the Chain – Your bike’s chain is without a doubt the most important part of the transmission. Therefore, cleaning the chain is paramount. Begin by pouring some hot water into a bucket and mixing in some washing up liquid. Then, dip a brush in the hot water solution and scrub vigorously on the chain. You will have better luck removing grime if the water you use is piping hot, therefore wearing rubber gloves is recommended. Continue the process of dipping the brush in the hot water and scrubbing on the bike chain until you are left with a clean chain.
- Degrease the Chain – Now that your bike’s chain is sparkling clean, you should degrease it to ensure that any loose debris or residue is properly removed. This also ensures that the chain can run smooth without causing too much friction. Simply apply degreaser to the chain and allow it to sink into all of the rivets. Then let the chain drip dry.
- Wipe the Chain – Now that the chain is suitably clean and degreased, use a rag to wipe the chain clean. By massaging the links of the chain as intricately as possible, you should find that plenty of dirt comes off, which you should see appear on the rag. When dirt stops building up on the rag, then you know the chain is clean.
- Grease the Chain – Once you are happy the bike chain is completely clean from dirt and grime, lightly apply grease/lube to the chain. Coat the entire chain, ensuring that the lube reaches deep into the links, as this is where the lube will benefit the most.
- Clean and Lube the Cables – Wipe the inner cable using a rag soaked in degreaser. This should revitalise most cables, though those that have rusted beyond repair will likely need replacing. Once clean, evenly apply grease to the cable with a lint-free clean rag, ensuring that no blobs of grease are left on the cable.
- Clean and Lube the Front Mech – The front mech is often packed full of dried mud. Dip the bristly brush into the hot water solution and scrub the mech vigorously clean. You can use a toothbrush if necessary to get into harder-to-reach areas. Once scrubbed, thoroughly wipe and polish the mech with a rag until you are satisfied that it is suitably clean and shiny. Afterwards, apply a small amount of lube to all of the front mech’s pivots.
- Clean the Rear Mech – To truly see the benefits of a cleaned and greased bike, always ensure the rear mech is free from dirt build-up. Use a flat-head screwdriver to poke away any dirt, grime or grass build-up that has become trapped between the mech arm plates and jockey wheels.
- Clean and Lube the Jocky Wheels – Clean the jockey wheels using a soft brush or toothbrush, using a small amount of degreaser for a truly clean finish. Once clean, lightly grease the jocky wheels with the lube. Too much lube, and you risk attracting a build-up of dirt when you next go out for a ride; lube is sticky, after all.
- Clean the Rear Sprockets – The rear sprockets of any bike are often jam-packed full of grease, grass and mud. The cleaner these parts are, the longer they’ll last and the quicker they’ll shift gear. De-gunk these as best you can using the screwdriver. Then, dip the bristly brush into the soapy hot water solution and scrub vigorously until clean. Use some degreaser to help remove some of the tougher grime. Finish the rear sprockets by wiping and flossing them with a rag, buffing away any loose dirt and stains.
Carrying out the above cleaning regime for your bike will not only keep it clean and sparkling, but will also improve its performance and ensure a long lifespan.