Top Tips for Keeping Your Bike Clean and in Good Shape
12th June 2017.Treat your bicycle with love, and it will carry you as far as you ever want to travel. This advice is something every cyclist knows, whether you ride for fun or fitness. Every cyclist also knows the frustration that accompanies a sudden mechanical failure: a broken chain, a flat tyre, or worse. You may even carry a repair kit with you on every ride already, just to be on the safe side. The fact is, regular maintenance can reduce the number of breakdowns you experience. A part of that maintenance is cleaning. The environment you ride through can have a damaging effect on your bike. By mitigating the most common effects of wear and tear, only the problems most difficult to avoid will crop up in the future. If you only know how to change a chain, the idea of doing, even more, maintenance could seem daunting. Don't worry, with the right tools and the right approach; you can tackle all the regular care your bike needs. Below, we'll go over what you need to start and how often you should conduct maintenance and cleaning. Don't be afraid to pop in to your local cycle shop and ask questions, either. Those are the questions any enthusiast loves to answer. Let's begin by going over the gear you'll need to gather first.
The tools you need for bicycle maintenance
If you've ever worked on your bike out on the road, you know it's frustrating to hold it steady in the right position. So if you plan on doing bike maintenance at home, your first purchase should be a bike stand. It provides an easy place to stash your bike during all the maintenance tasks you need, and your hands will remain free throughout your work. It makes every form of maintenance much easier to perform. Regarding basic tools, you'll want both a wrench set as well as Allen keys of varying sizes. Raid your drawers for screwdrivers, but be prepared to buy smaller ones as well. Pliers ? both needle nose and special chain pliers ? should go into your toolbox too. Special tools for the chain, like a pin remover, should also be a priority. You want to be able to quickly and easily work on these core parts. With that in mind, a crank arm puller and cassette remover will help you disassemble important components too. When cleaning your bike, it's not always necessary to take so many pieces apart. However, accumulated dirt and grime can be difficult to remove otherwise. You may also notice during cleaning that portions of your bike are wearing down with use. Cleaning and inspection provides you with an opportunity to make a repair now before it becomes a problem later. For cleaning purposes, shop rags or cut portions of old t-shirts will be a staple; grab gentle, kitchen-type sponges too. You'll want a variety of scrub brushes as well ? some soft bristled, and some rough bristled. Plain dish washing liquid will suffice for washing the bike; stay away from cleaners that contain harsh chemicals or abrasives. These could damage your paint job and even some components. Finally, grab a bottle of degreaser and some fresh lubricant. Have a hose handy nearby? Good ? with these supplies assembled, you can start cleaning.
How to go about cleaning your bicycle
With your bike on your work stand, remove the wheels (though you can leave them on if you wish). Use your degreaser on the chain. To thoroughly coat every component, turn the crank as you apply the degreaser, ensuring an even coating. Let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes or as directed on the packaging. Meanwhile, prepare your washing liquids. Fill two buckets with warm water if possible; otherwise, fill them from the hose. Add washing up liquid and mix. Afterward, use your hose to rinse down the chain and wash away the degreaser. Now it's time to tackle the drivetrain and its many chainrings. Using your soapy water and one of the stiff-bristled brushes, scrub away dirt caked into the gears and their teeth. Pay close attention to the pulleys. With the bottle brush in hand, reaching difficult-to-access places in the drivetrain should be easy. In the most extreme cases, disassemble the drivetrain and wash the components carefully in the soapy water. Allow them to dry before re-assembling. For the cassette, apply dish soap directly. Scrub in with a brush or sponge, then rinse away. Repeat as needed to eliminate any lingering dirt. Set aside your first bucket; it is likely contaminated with degreaser now. After rinsing the bike off again, use your second bucket and a sponge (or your rags) to begin cleaning the frame. Pick a spot to begin and work outward from that point. With a careful method, you can have your frame sparkling like new in no time. Finally, clean your wheels. Again, using your brushes, clean between the spokes and around the outside. While it doesn't have much of an impact on performance, clean wheels look nicer. After one last rinse, towel off the drivetrain and other metal components to prevent corrosion. Use lubricant, carefully dripping it onto the chain as you turn the crank. Your bicycle is now clean and ready to ride smoothly once more.
How often should you clean your bike?
How frequently should you repeat this procedure? It depends on the type of bike and the conditions in which you ride. A mountain bike that you take over muddy paths every weekend will need cleaning far more often than a road bike you use for long fitness rides. Regardless, the best way to check is through a simple visual inspection. Cleaning is very important for chain health, too. Checking the chain for build-up is easy; turning the crank as you watch the chain from the rear wheel allows you to spot any problems. As mentioned, sometimes disassembly is the best option. After six months or a year, not even soap and water can remove the grime in your chain. If you feel regular cleaning won?t get the job done, it's time to take everything apart and soak the items in a safe solvent. A solvent solution will dissolve away any of the remaining contaminants, leaving you with a chain that's practically new. Another fresh application of lube after re-assembly and you're all done. There are some times of year when you will need to give much more frequent attention to cleaning overall, though.
Special seasonal maintenance considerations
Do you live in an area where winter means lots of snow? That can present special perils to your bike. Now, you aren't just picking up the regular road grit. You may also be building up an accumulation of snow, road salt, and dirt. Not only will that reduce your performance, but it will also lead to much faster breakdowns. Always rinse your bike off immediately after a ride through snowy conditions, then dry it thoroughly. Store the bike indoors to keep it out of bitterly cold conditions. Consider increasing the frequency with which you remove the chain for a soak in solvent. In the spring and summer months, heat isn't really a problem to worry about ? but there is rain, too. Though it won't dirty your bike, it can cause rust. Whenever you bring your bike in from a rough ride through stormy weather, dry it from top to bottom with a clean towel. Pollen build-up during the springtime might also indicate it's time for a bath, especially if you have allergies. Aside from these special situations, a good wash once or twice a month is probably suitable for most riders. Every bike is different, though, so use your best judgement.
Keeping your bike in top shape is easy with practice
After an afternoon of thorough maintenance, cleaning, and oiling, your bike will perform like the day you bought it ? and maybe even better. The tips outlined here are just the beginning; explore the availability of tutorial videos online on sites like YouTube. Other enthusiasts like you have gone through the learning process and can help you navigate it, too. When you make a major investment in a bike, it should stand the test of time. Through your efforts, it can! Take a closer look at your bike today and decide whether it's time for some TLC. Follow @SportNessUK