Spring clean – Top 5 tips to sprucing up your bikeShareThis
Cleaning your bike and getting it ready for a ride is really simple. It’s also a cost effective way of making your bike look great. There are loads of reasons to clean your bike. Making it ride better, last longer and look good are just three of them.
Below are our top 5 tips on how to clean a bike, including some simple ways to bring make your bicycle look and ride like new!
How to clean a bike
A clean bike gives a smoother to ride. You don’t need to wash your bicycle after every ride but you can usually spruce it up with just a moist rag, soap and some polish that will get your bike clean.
Your bike should be rinsed down with warm, soapy water as opposed to blasted by a high water jet. High-pressure water, especially sprayed from the side, will remove much of the grease and lubricants out of the bike’s components which ain’t a good thing (although it is tempting to use a power jet to get the job done fast!).
Soapy water will clean your bike of the dirt but probably won’t get rid of any grease that has accumulated on your frame and wheels. For these parts you’ll have to get the degreaser out.
Degreaser is wonderful stuff but watch out…remember to rinse it off so that it does not corrode your bike…keep degreaser as a force for good rather than evil!
Once cleaned dry your bike with a soft rag. You can then use a polish to give your bike an extra glean. You could use a general purpose polish, such as Lemon Pledge, or a bike specific polish, such as Dirt Wash.
How to clean a bicycle chain
Bicycle chains turn black over time as the chain collects dirt and grit while riding or locked up outside. This will affect the performance of your ride and increase wear within the chain. By the time you notice it going black or jumping through the gears you know it’s time to clean the chain
To clean the bicycle chain, you can either go old school (a brush, some soapy hot water and a degreaser) or fancy (a specialist chain cleaner). If your chain is rusty you’ve left it too late. No amount of cleaning will help and you’ll have to buy a replacement chain.
If you’re adopting the old school brushing approach to cleaning your bike chain you should begin by scrubbing the chain with the soapy water and letting it dip-dry. Then apply degreaser to the links of the chain. Rotate the cranks for the degreaser to really get into the links and use your brush to work out the stubborn bits of grease and grime. Wash off with water and then use a rag to dry the chain.
If you’ve got your hands on a chain cleaner the job is even simpler. Fill the cleaner with degreaser (depending on the strength of the degreaser you can dilute it with water), fasten it over the chain and rotate the cranks to allow the chain to pass through the self-contained brushes. After 40 or 50 rotations the chain should start to look nice and clean. If your chain is really dirty you may need to refresh the cleaner with some new degreaser.
The next step is to add lube, making sure the whole chain is coated. Spin the cranks to force the lube into the links. With the jockey wheels, use a similar method of cleaning, applying degreaser and applying lube as above. The rear sprocket should be brushed with a degreaser then applied with lube.
Bike tyres are not cheap, so replace if treads in the tyre are significantly worn. With treads that have knobbly bits, you can usually see the wear as the bits would have reduced over time. On smoother road tyres, you should inspect for any part of the tyre bulging out or being lumpy.
Also check for visible holes/gashes in the tyres. In either case, change the tyres if the inspection finds problems. Most tyres will have a life of 2,000 to 4,000 miles in them. If you are getting repeated punctures then it is also good time to change the tyres.
New brake pads
If you commute regularly, it is likely that your brake pads will be wear down quickly. The rain and grime on the road corrodes them fast. Regardless, brake pads are worth changing at least once a year. We recommend you that you check the pads every month though to survey the wear.
Usually you can slide the old brake pads out of their blocks and insert new pads. If this is not possible then you will need to buy new pads and blocks and attach them to your brake callipers. Make sure that the pads are facing the right way (they tend to have arrows) and correctly positioned so that, they rub squarely against the rims of your wheel. Avoid any overlap against the tyre.
Replace Bar Tape
This last suggestion is more a case of vanity as new bar tape dramatically improves the look of your bike, especially if your tape is a light colour and has got dirty over time. The new bar tape will also give a bit more comfort to your hands, wrists and arms.
We recommend an adhesive tape. It is worth buying a tape that gives decent amount of stretch in it to get a nice taut fit. Gel inserts on the tape give a noticeable increase in vibration damping so you might like to try some of that out too.
These are our quick fixes for making your bike look a bit brighter and happier, as well as riding smoother and lasting longer. However, you’re the real experts and I would love to have your tips and advice…over to you!