Whether you’re riding on the road or hitting the trails, your bike gets dirty fast. These simple steps will help you keep your steed functioning and looking sharp!
First, give your bike a gentle shower with a garden hose. This will loosen up any dirt that’s stuck to the frame and prevent it from scratching the paint when you wash. Stay away from pressure washers—the water will force itself into your bearings and cause them to seize and rust. Spray gently, and brush away loose dirt.
Next, dip your sponge into a bucket of soapy water (dish soap works just fine, but other degreasing cleaners can be less work). Squeeze the suds all over the frame, sponging gently. Pay special attention to places you might normally miss—under the down tube, on the inside of the fork legs, and on the brake pads. Once the frame is clean, go for the drivetrain. You’ll want to use a different sponge than the one you use for your frame—your chain and cassette collect tons of dirt, and you don’t want to rub that on your frame. Grab the chain with a sponge or rag and pedal backwards. The degreaser will come in handy at this point. Floss between your cassette cogs with the side of a rag. Strip all the old, dirty grease off the drivetrain—you’ll put new stuff on soon.
Scrub your rims well with something slightly abrasive—a scrubber sponge or some Orange GoJo work really well. Be sure to rinse all the abrasive off well.
Once your bike has been soaped and degreased, spray it down with clean water to rinse. Dry the frame and drivetrain off. You can get a lot of water off by lifting one wheel off the ground a few inches and letting it drop to the floor (it won’t damage the bike).
Now that your bike is squeaky clean, you need to relube. Drip lubricant on the chain as you pedal backwards. Let it sit a few minutes, and wipe it off completely. Grab the chain with a rag again and pedal backwards. You cannot wipe off too much of the lube. You want the lube to grease the inner workings of the chain, and not hang around on the outside to collect dirt.
Once you’re done, finish up with some frame polish for maximum shine. Your bike is ready for the trail or the road again!