The skies have finally parted and it looks like the sun is here to stay for the week! If you’ve been riding in the rain this past week, your bike is no doubt grimy, mucky and downright disgusting. Consider taking 15-20 minutes out of your day to clean it up. Cleaning your bike gives you an opportunity to get up close and personal with your bike. If you’re like me, you usually just give the tires a quick squeeze and then it’s bang…out the door! Cleaning your bike gives you an opportunity to slow things down a bit, inspect all the parts in detail, and notice anything that might need fixing.
For a quick clean, you’ll need:
-Two rags, one for washing and one for drying
-Warm, soapy water (I like to use a mixture of Dawn and water, but use whatever household soap you have)
Squirt some soap into your bucket and fill with water to your desired level. How much should you use? Just eyeball it depending on how dirty your bike is and how detailed you want to get. Dip one rag in the soapy water and start wiping down your bike, top to bottom. I like to start on the handlebars and headset and work my way down the fork and front wheel, then move on to the top tube and the rest of the bike. Starting at the top will allow the soap to run down the bike onto already dirty parts near the bottom. If you start cleaning your drive train first, and then wipe down your seat and frame, you might find that you’ll have to clean your drive train again to get all that new soap out of there. You can either dry your bike as you go, or wait until you’re all done!
When it comes to cleaning the chain, you want to make sure all the muck is off the chain and that the chain is nice and dry. If your drying rag isn’t soaked, use it to grab your chain and pedal about 10 cycles or so. Repeat until all the gunk is off, then lube it up. A clean and well lubed drive train is the number one way to keeping your bike in good working order and can save you tons of time and money in the long run.
Depending on how much time you want to take in cleaning your bike, you can use an old spray bottle and fill it with the same soapy water solution. Using a spray bottle is great for getting in those small, hard to reach places like in between your gears. The spray bottle method might also be a good idea if you live on the fifth floor of an apartment building and you find yourself doing most of your bike maintenance in your kitchen. Old toothbrushes are also great for getting in those hard to reach places where fingers just aren’t going to fit.