Several times a week people will come to me or Brian and talk of poor shifting, a weird creak, or something breaking, and we look at the bike and realize it could have been prevented. We constantly see grey bikes that were originally white or matte black bikes that were originally glossy. It all comes down to one thing… CLEAN YO’ BIKE. Here is what you need to know.
Daily bike cleaning is easy. Give a quick wipe down to clean your tires before your ride to see if there are any cuts, knicks, or debris in there to cause flats down the road. If you ride through anything (fresh asphalt, mud, puddles, etc.), give your bike a quick wipe down when you get home. It’s easier to clean that stuff off 5 minutes after a ride than 5 weeks after.
On a weekly basis, take a rag, old race t-shirt, or even a paper towel and some simple green and wipe down everything. Clean frame, tires (again checking for cuts), saddles, and rims. With 3 minutes of work, your bike will shine like new. Wipe excess gunk off your chain. If it is super gunky, clean it well with citrus solvent. If it is dry, lube it. If it is wet, wipe off the excess lube and grease.
Once a month you should do a much more thorough cleaning of your bike. Pick a specific day to do it every month, whether it’s the 1st, the 15th, or the 3rd Tuesday. If you have been doing your 5 minute cleans throughout the month this will be easy. You will need: a bucket of hot water and Dawn dish soap (yes that is the best cleaner in this situation), 2-3” paint brush, microfiber cloth, hose. Hose your bike down thoroughly. Using the microfiber cloth, clean every surface you can find. The microfiber is great at removing grit and leaves handlebar tape feeling like new. Use the paint brush to get into all the links on the chain and all the nooks and crannies of your cassette and drive train. Part way through, remove your wheels and scrub any brake residue off the rims. Scrub and inspect your brake pads. Measure your chain for wear. Hint: when measured from the pins 1 inside link + 1 outside link= 1 inch, so if there is noticeable stretch over about a 9 inch span, it’s time for a new chain (but cleaning regularly will slow chain wear out). When everything is good and clean, hose it all down, and let it air dry. Finish it off by lubing your chain and checking that your shifting is in good working order.
I promise if you keep up with this routine, not only will you minimize your problems and reduce wear and tear, your bike will look fantastic. And in the end that’s the most important thing.
Retul Certified Bike Fitter
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