dirty bike

Spring cleaning: how to wash your touring bike

Does your bike still have the grime from last season’s tour? Have you hit the trails already and muddied up your chariot? Here’s a great video by Clint Gibbs showing how you can clean your bike in about 15 minutes without disassembling it:

Clint also has a part two, which is worth a look. A few thoughts:

  • I tend to be a little more careful when using a hose… as mentioned in the video, direct spray into a bottom bracket can get water into the bearings. The same is true (at least in my unfortunate newbie experience a few years ago) with wheel bearings. Water under pressure has a sneaky way of finding its way into those spots, and it makes your life miserable on tour. Trust me.
  • Chain cleaners are your friends. You might not need to do the full hose-down… just the drivetrain. I’ve been a big fan of Park Tool’s chain cleaner (FYI, affiliate link)for a few seasons, and use it as needed. It also includes a gear brush which is super helpful on deeper cleans. More coming on drivetrains next week. I’m taking a maintenance class Thursday and hope to share a few things.
  • Remember to lubricate what needs lubricating after the wash. Obviously the chain, but sometimes you’ll need to give the brake and shift lines a little bit of help.
  • Don’t be afraid to do this on the road. Maybe you’re taking a zero-mile day? Maybe you hit a huge patch of mud or a dusty run. The less grit in your gears, the smoother and more efficient your ride, plus the less wear on your (maybe expensive) components. Cue the people with the internal hubs who don’t worry about such things nearly as much!

photo credit: Ryan Cousineau on Flickr

What do you think?