Keep your bike clean, forget about weather
Snow, salt, slush, rain: none of these should stop you from riding nor make you feel guilty that you're doing something that will hurt the longevity of your bike.
Instead of hanging your bike up for the winter, we are offering you this information to keep you riding guilt-free. There are a few easy steps to take post-ride to ensure you can keep riding and not destroy your beloved bike simultaneously.
Take a few minutes just after each ride to maintain your bike and you won't have to worry about what the crud on the road is doing to shorten the life of your frame or components.
Here's what you need:
- A pressurized pesticide sprayer container easily obtained at a hardware store is a perfect device to hold plain water. The pressure isn't too much for your bike and it makes it easy to spray your bike down outside no matter your living situation. No garden hose necessary!
- A brush with stiff bristles - used for scrubbing dirt off of the cassette and chain rings
- A chain scrubber - this makes getting the chain cleaning solution in/on the chain easy. *
- Chain cleaning solution that's biodegradable. *
- Rag, old t-shirt or shop cloth - one for wiping down the frame (clean), one for cleaning the drivetrain
- Lube. We highly recommend Rock 'n' Roll Gold
What we're describing here isn't going to get your bike showroom clean; this is what it takes to keep your bike running well and keeping it safe from the grime during the winter. A perfect cleaning involves pulling the crank, taking off the wheels, and lubing each bolt and cable.
- Step 1: Spray down the whole bike with plain water. Get all of the loose dirt and salt off of the bike. Be sure to get the underside of the bike, rims, brakes, in the nooks and crannies. Try not to spray directly into greased places like the headset, bottom bracket, and hubs.
- Step 2: With a clean, dry cloth, wipe down the frame from top to bottom. From cleanest part of the bike to dirtiest. Wipe gently and when the cloth gets dirty, use a new part of the cloth. Dirt acts like sandpaper on your paint.
- Step 2b: Pay special attention to wiping your brakes and the braking surface of your wheels completely making sure they are as clean as possible. It's very easy to wear through your rims and wear out brake pads exceedingly quickly when there is dirt on either surface.
- * Step 3: Use the chain scrubber with chain cleaning solution inside to clean the chain thoroughly. If your chain was exposed to salt or is particularly dirty, this is necessary. If your chain just got wet from a rainy ride, this step isn't necessary.
- Step 4: Wipe the water/solution off of the chain with the other rag. Apply the lube - a small amount - to each link of the chain. The goal is to get the lube inside each link into the bearings. Having lube on the outside of the chain is not good - it just collects dirt and that dirt wears away at the teeth of the chain rings and cassette shortening their lives. Lube actually acts as cleaner for the chain when applied and wiped off.
- Step 5: Spin the chain around the cogs for a few revolutions. This encourages the lube to get into the chain. The lube also chases the water and gunk out of the inside of the chain.
- Step 6: Thoroughly wipe down the chain to get the lube and extracted gunk off of it. Re-apply the lube and re-wipe the chain while spinning the pedals.
- Step 7: Did you get grease on your clothes in the process? Use dish soap and hand-scrub the clothing that got dirty. You will be amazed at what dish soap will do. Dish soap is also a good solution to use when washing a greasy/dirty frame to make it sparkle.
If you were riding in the rain or sprayed the bike down so well that water could have gotten into the frame (it takes only the finest spray to get water into your frame), pull out your seat post and turn the bike upside down. Let it sit like this and dry out completely. This is imperative to do in order to save your bottom bracket.
There are many things you can do to make the bike washing process simpler. The more often you clean your bike, the easier it is each time (typically)! Using full fenders keeps water and road grime from splashing up onto the frame and into the frame. Having a bike stand makes everything easier. No bike stand? If you have a rear hitch rack for your bike on your car, that can be used as a make-shift stand as well. We are here to offer suggestions and we'll get you the equipment you need to get you going.
If you are just wanting to ride your bike and aren't interested in washing it, we'll do it for you! An RSC Winter Wash is $35. We can usually take care of your bike while you wait.