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A Clean Bike is a Fast Bike

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Hobbies
Cleaning your bicycle is considered a trivial activity that is not enjoyed by many who ride. Most cyclists drop another coating of lubrication on their chain to keep the drive train moving and do not consider the grit and grime that has built up from previous rides. This gunk can cause wear and tear on moving components, which can be expensive to replace, and also can make pedaling the bike more difficult. This guide will show you how to clean a bike in 15 minutes or less.

For a complete cleaning, the following tools can be considered essential: three 5-gallon buckets, dish detergent, citrus based degreaser, long handled brush with long stiff bristles, short plastic handle scrub brush, straight bottle brush, bottle brush bent into half circle, large and medium sponges, clean cotton rags, lubricant, long screwdriver and a work stand.

Take clean water and fill one bucket. Squirt a generous amount of dish detergent into the other two buckets and fill with warm water. The clean water will be for rinsing. One other bucket will be used for washing the frame and wheels, the other will be for the drive train.

Clamp the bike in the work stand and remove the front wheel. Put aside for now. Shift the chain to the lowest gear and remove the rear wheel. Take the degreaser and spray the wheel cassette then set the wheel aside, ensuring that the gunk does not drip onto the wheel and tire.

Take the screwdriver and place between the rear dropouts to support the chain. Once the chain can move freely, take the degreaser and spray a generous amount onto the chain and derailleur pulleys. Let the degreaser soak into these parts and move onto cleaning the front wheel.

With the front wheel on top of the tire wash bucket, use the long bristle brush to scrub the tire and rim. Take the straight bottle brush and clean the wheel hub. Rinse the wheel with the large sponge and set it aside to dry.

Use the curved bottle brush to clean the rear wheel hub and cassette. Clean the tire and rim with the long bristle brush. Rinse and let dry with the front tire.

With the bike in the work stand clean the chain. Dip the small scrub brush into the drive train bucket. While turning the crank, hold the brush against the top, bottom and sides of the chain. Continue until all the grime has been removed. Place the brush against the rear derailleur pulleys to clean them too. Rinse the drive train by dipping the medium sponge into the clean water. Simply squeeze the sponge over the chain until rinsed thoroughly.

Wash the rest of the bike with the large sponge and water from frame bucket. Use the straight bottle brush to get to any hard to reach places like around the brakes and behind the front derailleur.

Take the large sponge and rinse off the frame with the clean water. A hose can be substituted but care has to be made not to blast water into the bottom bracket. Take the cotton rags and wipe away any water remaining on the bike.

Put some lubricant onto the rear cassette and spin it a few times to work it in. Replace the front and rear wheel back on the back. Drip lube onto each link of the chain. Also squeeze a few drops onto the rear derailleur pulley bushings, front and rear derailleur pivots, brakes pivots and any place cables pass in and out of brackets.

Wipe off any excess lubricant. Finally, spray the bike with a polish to give it a nice and clean shine. Buff it out with a clean rag.

If you follow this technique you can have a clean ride that will look sharp and perform like new. The best part is it will only take 15 minutes.