How to clean your bike by Phil Graham, a chosen bicycle mechanic for the London Olympic Games

Lubricating the bike chain

Top tips for keeping your bike clean by Arragon’s Cycle Centre’s Head Mechanic, Phil Graham.

Bike Week, which this year is June 14-22, identified that almost half of people with a bike can’t enjoy a ride this summer, as their bike is in too bad shape. Fortunately, Dr Bikes will be attending many of the events to help the people get their bike road worthy once more, as they are trained mechanics from local shops capable of servicing your bikes for free.

As I’m supporting Bike Week this year, I wanted to share my top cycling maintenance tips which will prevent your bike from succumbing to ‘Bike Blight’, which they often suffer from spending winters locked away in the sheds.

The key is to keep on top of your bike’s general cleaning to ensure it runs smooth for miles and miles. Road grit and grime, mud as well as salt from winter roads can play havoc with the moving parts of a bike, causing them to seize and corrode. All of this affects reliability of gear shift and braking.

If you are riding in all weathers, it’s best to ensure your chain and all cables are lubricated with a thin layer of oil. We use dry weather lube on cables as it’s easy to drip through the outer housing. GT85 or multipurpose lubricant can be used all over the bike, it acts as a water displacer so will flush out excess water which can cause rusting and corrosion. Keep it away from the braking surfaces as this will reduce braking efficiency.

When you wash your bike down – use a hose pipe or watering can, NOT a pressure washer as the water pressure is too strong and can flush out lubrication from the sealed units.

General Clean – What you need:

  • Sponge/soft brush/cloth
  • Cleaning solution such as Fenwicks FS-10 (this product isn’t harsh so ideal for carbon)
  • Fenwicks foaming chain cleaner
  • Disc brake cleaner
  • Warm water
  • General purpose / All weather / Wet or Dry lube depending on the season

Prop your bike up safely. Wet it down to loosen off any mud or grit. Spray some cleaning solution all over the bike and leave for a couple of minutes to soak through. Use a wet sponge or soft brush to wipe it over.

Rinse the bike off with clean water, checking you’ve removed all the foreign particles. These are corrosive and cause premature wear of parts such as wheel rims or your chain. Gently bounce the bike to shake of excess water, and then apply Teflon spray (GT85) to flush any remaining water from the linkages.

When the bike is dry, lift the rear wheel and turn the pedals backwards while dripping a light coating of chain oil into each link. It is important to remove the excess oil, otherwise it will act as a magnet for more mud. Remember: A light coating of oil is much better than having it caked in it!

Spray some disc cleaner on the discs if you’ve got disc brakes, rub down the rims if you have rim brakes.

To ensure the smooth operation of your gears and brakes, it is important to keep the inner cables free from corrosion. Use a dry lube to drip down the outer housing and onto your inner cables.

For better cleaning, remove the wheels & get right into the frame. For smooth function, apply a little grease to the quick release skewers, seat post and pedal axles.

Inflate the tyres, this should be done almost weekly to maintain the correct pressure. A track pump is brilliant for this job.

Keep on top of the cleaning and your bike should require no more than a six monthly safety check or annual service by a professional, which will include stripping and lubricating all the moving parts such as bottom brackets which are otherwise sealed.

If you’d like to find your closest Bike Week event and track down your nearest Dr Bike, visit

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

3 Responses to How to clean your bike by Phil Graham, a chosen bicycle mechanic for the London Olympic Games

  1. Vincent 20/06/2014 at 6:16 pm #

    > When the bike is dry, lift the rear wheel and turn the pedals backwards while dripping a light coating of chain oil into each link.

    I would add: If the chain doesn’t already have a quick release link, add one, as it makes it a snap to remove the chain, soak it into pretoleum to remove oil and grime, dry it, put it back on the bike, and oil each link.

  2. Howie Ross 21/06/2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Hey, thanks for the tips! Are you saying to use GT85 on the chain and the rest of the bike?

  3. Jude 26/06/2014 at 5:06 pm #

    I use baby wipes to clean my chain and chain wheels. It’s a bit of a labour of love, as it takes a while, but they’re really good at getting the dirt off. The other advantage is that the dirt and oil all comes off onto the wipe, rather than onto the ground, the rest of the bike, my clothes, my hands, my face or any of the other places that bike dirt can get into.

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