Spring is in full swing in Canada, which means sun, dry trails and … the occasional unexpected snowfall or rainshower. It also means spring cleaning. Whether that’s cleaning your bike off after a winter in the garage or after last weekend’s rainy ride, a good rinse will help keep your ride running smooth into summer.
Not everyone has access to a full workshop at home, though, or a closet full of specialized bike cleaning products. Don’t let that stop you from getting your bike minty fresh. Here’s the super-simple home cleaning.
What you need
It doesn’t actually take very much to give your bike a good clean. Here are the basics for home cleaning:
–Dish soap. There are advantages to bike-specific cleaning products, but plain dish soap works in a pinch.
–Brushes. Ideally, two brushes. Use a soft brush for the frame, small parts and wheels. You can use a harder bristle brush for the drivetrain. If you don’t have two, just make sure to keep the brush away from the drivetrain until the very end, so you don’t spread grease over other parts of the bike.
–Rag. To clean the chain and chainring. If you have a chain degreaser, that is ideal. But cleaning excess dirt and grime off is a good start, and better than nothing.
–Chain lube. Once you’ve cleaned the last ride’s dirt off, make sure your drivetrain is ready for the next ride.
Simple bike cleaning
Start high, then work your way down the bike
Work your way down, so what you clean off the top doesn't drip down onto where you've already cleaned.
Not the fanciest bike stand, I know. But not everyone has a workshop in their garage. Or a garage at all. My DIY "hack" was to tie the seat to the chair with an old tube to make sure it didn't slip off, but you can live as dangerously as you like.
Taking the wheel out of the frame lets you get into the spokes and clean the rim easier. You don't have to clean your sidewalls, but it sure does look nice when you do.
Use the bristle brush to clean out your cassette as much as possible.
Wipe the chain clean. Then re-lube.
Soapy wheels, shiny spokes. Keep the suds off your rotors.
Then give everything a good rinse. You don't have to - and might not want to - use a powerful jet wash, but you do want to get all the soapy water off.
Fill a bucket with warm soapy water, then follow the steps above. Work your way from the top down, so dirt doesn’t drip back onto areas you’ve already cleaned. If you have a more elaborate cleaning routine, that’s great. But making this simple clean a regular habit is a great start.
This simple clean is just enough to keep your ride sparkling and keep dirt and grime from accumulating on your bike. It doesn’t replace a full service – whether you do that at home or take it in to your local shop – but it will help keep your bike running smooth between services. And looking nicer, to boot.