“A clean bike is a fast bike.” It’s something that many of us repeat to ourselves as we summon the motivation to clean our bikes, especially before big rides and races. And it’s true: a clean bike’s drivetrain and brakes simply work better, so you will feel faster. Plus, when you clean your bike, you have the chance to closely inspect it, which means you are more likely to catch small problems before they become ride- or race-ending problems.
Step 1: Pick your venue
First, find a suitable place outside to clean your bike. Depending where you live, you may be able to set up a semi-permanent spot, complete with a bike stand, hose and cleaning supplies, for easy, frequent bike cleanings. But maybe that’s not an option for you, or you’re traveling? Consider using a bay at a local car wash, or borrow a friend’s driveway or lawn and hose.
Step 2: Assemble supplies
No matter where you clean your bike, it’s helpful to create your own portable bike cleaning kit. Key elements should include soap, degreaser, a chain cleaning kit, brushes of various sizes, a sponge, polish, old towels and rags. Store it all in a bucket that you can travel with and use during cleaning.
Step 3: Take care of your drivetrain
Because drivetrains are typically covered in lube, they attract dirt, mud, sand and other grit. Use a chain cleaning kit with degreaser to thoroughly clean your chain. Taking some time to scrape the accumulated gunk out of pulley wheels, off chainrings and from in between gears will make your drivetrain turn more smoothly, which means less effort to pedal. Use degreaser and a brush to get that gunk off; water alone won’t do much.
Step 4: Use soap and scrub
Although it’s tempting after a long hard, dirty ride to simply hose off your bike, which is still better than doing nothing, it will get much cleaner if you use soap and scrub. Despite all the marketing hype, no special soap is needed; dish detergent works great. Simply add some soap to your bucket and fill with water. If it’s a cold day, use hot water – it’ll be easier on the hands.
After initially spraying down your bike with water, use a sponge to soap up your frame, fork, wheels and other parts. Use a scrub brush for extra effectiveness wherever grime is caked on. Remove your wheels to get to hard-to-reach places. Last but not least, don’t forget to soap up your drivetrain so you get all that degreaser off.
Step 5: Rinse
Rinse your bike with water thoroughly after using degreaser and soap. Be careful where and how you spray water; avoid using a strong spray, such as from a power washer, directly into moving parts like bearings and bottom brackets, unless you also plan to re-lube or re-grease them all afterward. One of the great things about ROTOR UNO groupsets is that you don’t have to worry about the water potentially corroding your bike’s steel cables because both the brakes and shifters are actuated hydraulically; there are no metal shift or brake cables.
Step 6: Polish
Getting all the dirt off your bike will make your bike look much better, but if you want to do a super pro job, also dry your bike with an air compressor or old towels and then polish your frame and any shiny components. Be sure to check in advance that your chosen polish is ok to use on your frame. It’s hard to hurt metal, but not all substances are good for all frame materials and paints.
Step 7: Re-assemble and lube
Put the wheels – and any other parts you might have removed during cleaning – back onto your bike. Finally, lube your drivetrain, pedals and any other essential moving parts so they don’t rust or seize up.