How to Wash Your Bike
Clean bicycles not only look better, but they work better and even go faster, or at least they look that way. Here are some tips on proper bike-washing techniques.
- Find a way to stand your bike up, a repair stand, a kick-stand, propped up by a tree or rocks. Whatever keeps it still and in an upright position.
- Chip major mud clumps off of your bike. If the clumps are bigger than a ping-pong ball, they should probably be manually removed. This makes the washing easier for you and your bike.
- Give it a light spray with water to remove all the excess dirt and grime.
- If desired, now would be the time to focus on the chain and areas around the chain, if you are going to clean these thoroughly use a brush dipped in plain water. You can easily skip this part if you don't feel comfortable messing with your chain or if you don't have any lube to put on afterwards.
- Using a sponge, wash the frame of the bike with soapy water. Spray lightly with water and repeat if necessary.
- Use a sponge for the wheels as well, you can prop them up over the bucket so all of the wheel becomes clean.
- Rinse everything lightly.
- Dry the bike using two different rags/towels, one for the frame and other clean parts, and a separate one you don't mind getting oily to pat the chain dry. Use the second towel to clean around the wheels and brake pads where rubber deposits may have developed.
- Add any chemicals you want to the bike (ex: lube)
- If you don't have a hose, buckets of water will work just as well.
- While washing it, you can give your bike a full inspection for any problems that may have developed. Repair or replace these when you have finished washing the bike.
- Rather than wash, you can clean it quickly with a wet towel and some type of polish. This works best if the bike isn't too dirty to begin with.
- When you are finished, wax the frame of your bike (and the fork, if it is painted) with a high-quality car wax if you have some handy; follow the directions on the can or bottle. This will make your bike shiny and help protect its finish. Try not to get wax on parts of your bike where it will be difficult to remove.
- Do not spray the bike with high pressured water, it will wash away grease and lubricants that your bike needs. It may also intrude into areas where you do not want water intrusion like the hubs and pedal housing.
- Manually dry the bike, don't let it sit wet.
- Be careful when washing off mud and dirt - they are abrasive and can scratch your bike's paint. Use lots of water and rub gently, if at all.
- The type of soap matters! Lye soaps and many dish soaps are not safe for paint or some metals. A simple car wash soap might be a better choice.
Things You'll Need
- bucket of soapy water (dish detergent is a good choice) (WARNING: Don't use lye based soaps or detergents)
- Stand or other way to prop bike up
- Hose or bucket(s) of plain water
- Rags and/or towels
- Scrub brush, chain lube (optional)
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