Cleaning your bike and why it is important
Bikes are mechanical (and sometimes electronic!) pieces of kit that require looking after. When two metal faces rub together, such as the chain on cassette or bearings in wheels, they have very tight clearances so when these surfaces become covered in dust and dirt from the road this forces these surfaces to become worn.
The key parts of the bike to keep well maintained:
Chain – To clean your chain you can use Chain Degreaser from a range of brands. This strips all the oil and dirt off the chain and cleans all the key surfaces. Once clean be sure to lubricate your chain to ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently.
Cassette – Your cassette is always in contact with your chain, so only cleaning one or the other doesn’t really cut it! The same principle applies to the cassette - a good degreaser will get you back to shiny!
Wheels – Cleaning the rims and spokes on your wheels will help to stop anything become seized. In the winter road salt and grit can cause the nipples to seize and corrode. A simple clean, again with a degreaser, will help to keep everything tip top. (Make sure you do not use a lubricant on the wheels as this may get onto the braking surface and will make it unsafe to ride until cleaned again properly!)
Bearings –You will have a type of bearing in your headset, bottom bracket, wheels and jockey wheels on your derailleur.
The type of bearing you have will depend on your bike and will determine how you need to keep them maintained. Open ball bearings will need to be greased regularly to keep them running smoothly, most newer bearings on bikes are sealed cartridge, this means that the bearings are enclosed with a seal which helps to keep the elements out.
Sealed cartridge bearings will eventually wear out and can be easily replaced by your local bike shop. An open ball bearing needs to be replaced more regularly as a worn bearing can damage the wheel or component that it is running on.
Keeping bearings new and clean will keep your bike running smooth and reduce the number of creaks and clicks you experience out on the road.
Bolts – At some point you will likely want to change parts on your bike, so making sure that bolts aren’t covered in dirt or salt from the road or sweat will mean that you can readily remove them when you want to. Leave this too long and you’ll be stuck with some very tight bolts!
DON’T USE A PRESSURE WASHER!
We often see people spraying bikes with a pressure washer, by the very nature of the tool you are forcing water into areas that it shouldn’t be in! By doing this, you risk washing out grease from key areas with the water and doing more damage than good.
If your bike is very dirty we recommend using a simple fine spray hose pipe to clean the worst of the dirt off. You should follow this up with a bike cleaning spray, ideally left for a short period for best effect.
Once you have cleaned the worst of the dirt off you can use microfiber clothes to bring up the shine on your trusty steed! At this point we would look to lubricate the chain. For simplest application, lubricate, leave a minute or two, then wipe the excess lubrication off again as this stops the chain becoming too dirty when out on the road!
We always like to follow this with a bike polish of some description. This means that you can sit tight until the next ride safe in the knowledge that your bike is gleaming and ready to go!