- Here's why regular bike care and maintenance is important
- Equipment: What you'll need for the task
- The right cleaner
- Should you wash or oil the bike chain?
- Should I use a high pressure washer?
- What you'll need to care for your bike
- Step by step guide: How to clean your bike the right way
- Step 1: Soak the bike and get rid of mud
- Step 2: Cleaning the bike chain
- Step 3: Cleaning the disk brakes
- Step 4: Cleaning the gears and breaks
- Step 5: Drying and aftercare
- Step 6: Caring for the chain
- Bike cleaning FAQs
Why regular bicycle care is important
Dirt and the resulting rust, among other things, compromise the health of your entire bike. The cable's elascity is reduced, the brakes get cloged with mud and the gears become too stiff to change. Dirt in the chain, gears and breaks compromise the life span of the bike itself.
Especially in winter, regular cleaning is a must, because road salts attack not only the components of your bike but also the paintwork and promotes rust formation. Without proper bike cleaning and maintenance, a component could break while riding and lead to an injury!
Equipment: What you'll need to clean your bike
There is a special cleaning agent for almost every part of the bicycle. They can be a bit expensive. For basic cleaning, you can do without expensive special cleaning agents. When caring for your chain, however, we recommend spending a bit more to ensure a long-lasting chain.
The right cleaner for the right job
Soap is perfect for cleaning the frame and wheels. Make sure that the soap is biodegradable when cleaning the bike outside.
For the chain you can use a WD-40.
Wax or oil on the bike?
When you take care of your chain, it's important you take care of it correctly. There are two options for this.
- Oil the chain:
You can choose between thin or thick oil. Dust and dirt adhere less to thin oil, but thin oil must be applied more often. Thick oil, on the other hand, attracts more dirt but is longer lasting.
- Wax the chain:
Wax is dirt and water repellent and therefore keeps the chain cleaner. In addition, it does not stain clothing. However, wax needs to be reapplied every 80 to 120 km, and therefore more often than oil (every 120 to 300 km).
Should I use a high pressure cleaner?
Do not clean your bike with a high-pressure washer: High pressure can cause water to enter the sealed wheel bearings, which will then begin to rust.
You can also use the following to clean your bicycle:
- a garden hose
- several buckets of water
- a watering can
- a pressure washer with a water tank
What you'll need to clean your bike
Step-by-step instructions: How to clean your bike properly
The most important up front:
- Coarse dirt should be removed from your bike after every ride. Just following step 1 to 3 for instructions on how to do so.
- In the following steps, we'll give you everything you need to know to care for your bike.
Step 1: Soak and remove coarse dirt
Before you start to remove dirt with a brush, you should first soak the bike.
» For step 1, you'll need:
- water with soap
- brush and sponge
- spray oil (WD-40)
» Take note of the following steps:
1. Soak the frame and wheels with rinse water for about 10 to 20 minutes.
2. Scrub off stubborn dirt with a brush or sponge.
3. Clean the wheels from inside to outside (hubs - spokes - rims).
4. Then move to the cassette, cleaning the chainrings and front derailleur with a sponge or toothbrush. For persistent dirt, use WD-40 or a degreaser.
5. Be sure not to pressure clean nuts, screws or bearings, shocks or the suspension fork, so that no water or dirt enters and rusts the ball bearings.
6. Finally, rinse the bicycle with a detergent on a low pressure setting.
Important: Rinse the brush or sponge often to avoid scratching the paint with microscopic rocks and dirt.
Step 2: Cleaning the chain
If you clean your bicycle chain, make sure that you do not completely degrease the chain. Otherwise, the oil between the pin and the chain links may become weak and break.
» For step 2, you'll need:
- Rinsing water
- 2 cloths/rags
- A toothbrush
» Here's how it works:
1. Take the rag dipped in water and grab the chain with it. Turn the crank so that the chain moves under your hand with the cloth and clean.
2. For die-hard dirt, put a bit of WD-40 on a rag and attack the chain.
3. Use a toothbrush to remove dirt between chain links.
Step 3: Cleaning the brakes
It is very important that the brakes are completely free of dirt and dust. While you're here, try to remove any rust that has accumlated here.
» For step 3, you'll need:
- Fine sandpaper or steel wool
- Water for rinsing
- Cloths or rags
- Brake cleaner, if needed
» Here's how it works:
1. Disconnect the bicycle's brake. This will help you better clean. You can find out how this works in the assembly instructions of your bicycle.
2. Remove dirt with rinse water and a brush.
3. Use a steel wool to remove any rust.
4. Clean the disc brake again of residues that result from the brake pads being grounded up, for this you can use brake cleaner if necessary.
5. Reassemble the brakes after they've dried.
Step 4: Cleaning the gear and brake cables
Dirt and water can easily get into the outer shell of the inner cables if the brake cables are exposed. Therefore, regular cleaning is therefore very important.
» For the 4th step, you'll need the following:
- wet rags/cloths
» Here are the steps:
1. Disconnect the brakes.
2. Unhook the front and back brakes at the tires.
3. Shift down to the smallest gear.
4. Release the inner cables in the clamping area.
5. Take the whole train out of the stop and move the outer cover.
6. Clean the inner slides with a damp cloth.
7. Provide the inner cables with a light film of grease (Attention: Not with Teflon coating!)
8. Reattach the brake cables.
Step 5: Drying & Maintenance
After cleaning, be sure to let your bike dry and also let all other components dry as well. Once everything has dried, you can begin oil and greasing.
Step 6: Greasing and oiling the chain
Finally, spray the gears, cables and brake joints with oil, and remove excess oil with a damp cloth.
Also grease your bicycle chain with oil or wax.
» When applying oil to the chain, you'll need:
- Chain oil or chain wax
- A cloth
Make sure to apply grease sparingly. You can either apply the oil through direct contact or transfer the grease from a rag to the chain.
Here you can learn how to oil your bike chain:
How often do I need to clean my bike?
How often should I clean and oil the chain?
The more you bike, the more often you'll need to tune-up your bike. We recommend the following intervals to regularly clean you chain.
- For road bikes: Check, clean and grease the chain every 150 miles.
- For mountain bikes: Check, clean and grease the chain every 70 miles.
The bike chain is often neglected. However, be sure to clean and grease it regularly.
Where can I clean my bike?
When cleaning, be sure that
- only eco-friendly agents are used.
- the ground is dry and does not kick up any dirt. We recommend cleaning on concrete.
It is best to clean your bike on asphalt or concrete in your backyard or driveway. If greasing or oiling, you should do such on a piece of cardboard to protect the ground from harmful chemicals. If you have a bathtub that is big enough, you can also clean your bicycle there.
Our tip: With a mounting stand, you can fix your bike at eye level and get into hard to reach places
Ready for your next adventure!
Your bike is spick and span and ready for the next adventure? Make sure your bike fits you from head to toe. In our article „Getting the right bike for you“, you'll learn how to find the right bike for your size.
If you plan on biking through the Winter, we have some tips for winter biking.
So that the next bike tour doesn't fall flat, you can't go without a individualised personal jersey. In our 3D Designer you can creatively design high-quality jerseys - for mountain bikes and road bikes alike.
Image Credits: Title Image: Vera_Petrunina/iStock, Image 1: AscentXmedia/iStock, Image 2: ZimaNady_klgd/iStock, Image 3: Portra/iStock, Image 4: yanik88/iStock, Image 5: ZimaNady_klgd/iStock, Image 6: yanik88/iStock.