Keeping your bike clean when you’ve not really got the room to do it is a pain. However, it is something that should be in your calendar at least once a month. It should be one of those things, you shouldn’t even think about having to do. “Oh, it’s the first of the month – time to clean the bike.”
Why is it so important? Let me just create an image in your mind. You are riding along and road muck gets trapped in your rear cassette. As the chain spins round at high speed that muck slowly but surely grinds away at the components. With each ride you take you are getting your bike one step closer to having to go in for an expensive repair.
However, it’s not just about scaring you with images of a worn out bike and expensive bike shop receipts. There’s also a real joy to be had in looking after your bike. Getting the dirt off with a thorough scrub and then proudly displaying it in your hallway or out on the roads.
If that’s not enough a clean bike is well loved by bike mechanics when you take it in to a shop and it also makes it far easier to complete repairs at home without getting dirt everywhere.
Anyway, by now if you are still reading this you probably don’t need much more convincing of the importance of a clean bike, so let’s get on with things.
Pedro’s was one of the first companies in the bike industry to specialise in a green/eco-friendly approach. With their Green Fizz degreaser you can spray on and then wipe away the dirt. Alternatively, any degreaser mixed with water (one part to ten or less usually) will do.
A set of brushes
The Muc-Off Cleaning Brush set will clean up even the most neglected of bikes.
Chain cleaning tool (optional)
We recommend this one from Halfords that isn’t too pricey and gets the job done.
Also: A sponge, a set of cloths, a bucket, a small flathead screwdriver, an old toothbrush and some grease.
How to clean a bike when there’s no space to do it
One of the things that has stopped me previously from keeping my bike clean is the fact I live in a flat without access to a garden. There are a couple of ways around this. One of them is to use a bike shop such as MiCycle which will let you use their bike wash.
The other option is to buy a big bucket and then do a second run back up to your flat to grab some clean water. Obviously, make sure your bike is secured when you do this. Having someone run away with your clean bike would be less than ideal.
1. Start by cleaning the frame using some degreaser and a sponge.
2. Scrub the chain using a bristle brush and a small amount of degreaser mixed in to a hot bucket of water.
3. Alternatively, if you have a chain cleaning tool then poor the degreaser in to the chain cleaning tool and run the chain through several times until the muck comes off.
4. Scrub the wheels clean using a brush and hot water with degreaser. Make sure the rims are completely clean.
5. Using a flathead screwdriver to scrape out the rear mech. Scrub it using an old toothbrush or a brush mixed in with hot water and degreaser.
6. Set the rear gears in to the largest rear sprocket and then shift down in to the smallest rear sprocket without spinning the wheel. This will free up plenty of inner cable to allow you to pop it out and give it a clean.
7. Wipe down the cable which is normally hidden inside the cable housing using a soft rag. Dry it off and then apply some light grease using your fingers.
8. Using the hot water and degreaser get to work on the front mech. Use the old toothbrush to get to the hard to reach places.
9. Clean the rear sprockets using a flathead screwdriver and scrub it down using a bristly brush.
10. Wash away all the degreaser and muck using clean water. Then wipe the chain clean using a soft rag. Massage each link so that it comes really clean.
11. Proceed to go over the components that you’ve cleaned using the clean rag to give them a decent final scrub.
12. For that extra special touch using a soft duster and some polish and give the frame some love. It’ll make it much harder for dirt to stick to your bike next time.
The next step is to let the bike dry and then re-apply lube where it is needed.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.