How to clean a bike to make it look like new

All bike rides leave traces of dirt, mud and dust that, without proper maintenance, become difficult to remove. Sanitizing it frequently favors its aesthetics and useful life.

Last update: November 13, 2021

It may seem like a superficial and only aesthetic question, but cleaning a bicycle is also important for its operation. If dust, grease, sand or mud is allowed to accumulate until it hardens, some components may be damaged and the life of the tire will be shortened.

For this reason, a general cleaning and maintenance is necessary, both for mountain and racing models or vintage. Depending on the surfaces and the frequency with which it is used, the deep cleaning days are applied every three weeks or a month.

Cleaning a bicycle is not a complex taskAlthough it is not just a spray of soap and water either. The process involves the use of degreasers, lubricants and being careful with some details, such as transmission and braking systems.

10 steps to deep clean a bike

It is common for all types of terrain to be traversed on board the two wheels. Among them, mud, sand and dust.

When the bicycle is stored without sanitizing, these elements remain adhered to sectors that, over time, can affect shifting and braking systems and reduce overall efficiency.

To make it shiny, certain details must be taken into account. Not all parts are washed in the same way and with the same objects. Cleaning a bicycle frequently and from time to time in depth favors its operation and lengthens its useful life.

Tools for cleaning a bicycle

  • Bucket of soap and water: it is preferable that it is warm or hot. Soap can be a degreaser.
  • Hose or sprayer: water pressure is an important detail. It should not hit too hard. A garden sprinkler is sufficient. Avoid pressure washers.
  • Rags: at least two rags, so that different materials such as soap and grease do not come into contact. They should be lint free.
  • Brushes: two or three are also necessary. One softer for scrubbing and one with firm teeth for access to detail. A toothbrush can work.
  • Sponge: a common kitchen is enough to spread the soap.
  • Degreasing liquid: To make the chain and transmission shiny, the old grease must first be removed.
  • Chain lubricating oil or wax: it is important that it is a specialized product for bicycle chains.
  • Latex gloves: hand protection is recommended.
The use of the bicycle in certain terrains favors the adhesion of dust particles.

1. Pre-soak

It begins with a general cleaning of the shot. Spray all sectors with the hose to remove the largest traces of dirt and mud.

Remember that the water pressure has to be low; otherwise, the bearings or suspension may be damaged. Pass a first layer of soap with the sponge and rinse.

2. First part of the chain

The chain is one of the most important components of the bicycle. To make it like new, the cleaning process involves two parts. In this first instance you have to soak it with warm soapy water. Remove grime with a toothbrush or natural fiber brush. You have to reach deep sectors, so the chain must be rotated.

Some people prefer to disassemble it, along with other components, but it is not a must-have task. Once sanitized, let it dry. If you want to speed up the process, you can use compressed air. It must be completely dry to go to the next step.

3. Degrease

After cleaning, apply the degreasing product, either liquid or in spray. It is advisable to do it from the back with a brush or paintbrush, while turning your hips back. Then wipe with a lint-free cloth to remove any traces of grease. Let the product act for 10 minutes before rinsing again.

4. Rest of transmission

The next step in cleaning a bicycle is to take care of the other components of the transmission, namely the sprocket, cassette, and shift pulley. Also in this case you should use a brush, warm water and plenty of soap..

Rub hard enough to remove grease and grime. For difficult recesses, help yourself with a flat screwdriver or an awl. If the dirt persists, repeat the process.

5. Derailleur

Both the derailleur or derailleur and the cranks should be sanitized with a large brush, while for details it is possible to reapply the toothbrush. It’s about getting to the internal parts of the pulleys and rings. When finished, rinse and let dry.

6. Bike body

Sectors including the body, seat, and handlebars are simpler and require brushing with suitable brushes. Use the size that is most comfortable for each part.

7. Wheels

As for the wheels, some people choose to disassemble them, but if you do not have the knowledge to do it accurately, it is better to sanitize them on the spot. Check the tires and pay attention to the rims and spokes.

Be careful with do not stain the brake pads with soap or lubricantas they can be damaged. For that particular component it is possible to apply isopropyl alcohol gently.

8. Final rinse

If any components were removed, replace them and soak the entire bike for one final pass. Rub with a clean cloth and let dry in the sun.

In the case of having compressed air, speed up the process. Turn the wheels to check that there are no pieces of soap left.

9. Cleaning a bike with shine

After sufficient drying time has elapsed, it is possible to give extra shine to the shot with specific products. Check the spray indications and apply it to the body of the bicycle without staining the braking systems.

If you do not have the precise knowledge to disassemble parts of the bicycle, it is better to skip this action.

10. Lubrication

The last step in cleaning a bicycle is delicate and requires concentration. It’s about re-greasing the transmission. For that, apply special oil or chain wax.

It is important to distribute the right amount and that there are no excesses or drips. Position the product while moving the chain to cover its entire path evenly.

As for lubricants, there is a wide variety. There are those of the humid type, more convenient for driving in areas with humidity. This product sticks stronger and resists water better, but grime is also more likely to stick.

Dry lubricant is useful for environments with that condition. Rinses easier and particles stick less.

Cleaning a bicycle is also maintenance

The easiest way to run efficiently is to maintain it frequently. In this way, deep cleanings will be very sporadic.

After each use, taking a few minutes to wipe the transmission with a rag and a little oil before putting it away is best. Greater effectiveness is achieved and components last longer.

Secondly, it is important to keep track of the chain. It is recommended to clean and lubricate it monthly or every 20 trips. This prevents corrosion and rust.

It is also possible that the chain is worn and requires replacement. Pay attention to this detail, since extending its useful life more than necessary can damage other components associated with operation and safety.

Take care of the details when cleaning a bicycle

The process of cleaning a bicycle requires a certain order. In particular, do not mix components such as grease, dirt and lubricant with clean parts.

For this you must have separate sponges, buckets and cloths. In addition, if the wheel has leather accessories on the handles or the seat, avoid getting them wet by placing a protector on top.

For higher comfort, there are elements such as the bicycle stand. It keeps the roll elevated and difficult parts are more accessible.

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