Road bikes are built for action. Sure, the bike will become quite dirty after riding it for a while. But, that’s something unavoidable. Regular cleaning helps all the parts to function properly and also prolong the life of a bike in general. It is also important to give the bike a thorough cleaning before a race or any other sporting event to ensure that there are no glitches on the big day. Here is a step by step guide that includes all the necessary information regarding cleaning a road bike properly.
Degrease the Drivetrain
Start a bike wash by first degreasing the drivetrain. Care should be taken to ensure that the chain, chain rings, and all the other parts of the drivetrain are properly covered. This can be done in two ways. Either the drivetrain can be taken apart to apply the degreaser or it can be applied with a brush. There is nothing wrong with either of the approaches, as long as the degreaser is evenly applied throughout.
Once this has been done, make sure that all the parts are cleaned with the help of a brush. In case the bike has not been taken apart, this can be done with the help of a flathead screwdriver. The muck can be scraped off the chain while moving it around. Then, rinse the bike with water, making sure that all the degreaser is washed off in the process. It is important to get rid of all the degreaser before moving to the next step. The leftover degreaser can easily ruin any lubrication you apply later on.
Washing the Bike
To wash the bike, take soap water and scrub it on all parts of the bike. Try and reach all the little corners using a sponge. Start on the front of the bike from the handles and then go backwards from here. For the drivetrain, preferably use another sponge because it will give out more grease or dirt on account of the use of the degreaser. Using the same sponge will just distribute that greasy dirt all over. Once clean, use the bike sponge to clean the drivetrain for the second time.
Take off the front wheel and also thoroughly clean the frame and the tire. Clean the outer surface, sides, then the spokes and the hub. Then take off the rear tire and clean it the same way. Here, apply the degreaser on the hub of the back tire and clean it again properly, just like you did with the chain. Then, put the wheels back in the frame. Rinse the bike, to get rid of any soap left. By this time, your bike should be spotless.
Drying the Bike
Use an air hose to dry the bike and then a microfiber towel to completely dry it. If an air hose is not available, it can simply be dried with a towel and a small brush can be used to get rid of the dripping water in the corners.
At this point, use WD40 spray or something similar to get rid of all the moisture out of the bike. These are easily available in any supermarket and help in dispersing moisture and preventing rust from forming on the bike. Also, check the tires for any kind of sharp object and take them out. If it leaves a big hole, then the tire can be glued back together. In the worst case scenario, it will need to be replaced.
Now that the bike is clean, it is time to put a protective layer on it. This helps in keeping the dust and other particles from sticking to the bike and protects it from getting dirty quickly. Finally, lubricate the chain. Apply a good quality lube on the chain by moving the pedals. Do this for a couple of revolutions. A UV torch can be used here for checking if the lubricant has been evenly applied. Also, use a towel to take off any excess lubricant that might be there on the chain.
More to Clean
Most bikers use a white or a black tape on the handles for a better grip on them. In case of a white tape, the dirt becomes quite visible. So, while cleaning the bike, the tape can either be completely replaced with a new one or simply be cleaned with WD40 or any similar water dispersing spray. The soap is of no use here. It is also a good idea to check the brake-pads while cleaning. There can be some metal pieces in them from the alloy rim. It is a good idea to clean them out with a screw driver or other similar tool.