bike bath

September 2, 2014

The other day I saw a few videos posted online on washing your bike and realized: my bike is filthy. Like really dirty. After nearly 18 months, I still didn’t know how to wash it. So I poured over a few videos and discovered that there seems to be a thing where people don’t like getting their bikes wet. High-pressure water could get into a bearing or something and cause damage. This isn’t a problem with the bikes the professionals use because they actually take them apart and rebuild the entire bike on a regular basis. This rebuilding requires a level of education I currently lack the dedication to achieve, and having a shop rebuild the bike would cost about what most people spend on a bike. So as my little princess of a bike isn’t going to get rebuilt anytime soon, I decided to figure out how to get over my newfound fear of getting my bike wet and make her all shiny again.

If you like road bikes and enjoy watching short videos to learn things, the guys at the Global Cycling Network or GCN (they have a Facebook page and a youtube channel) are hilarious and provide a lot of useful information. The video that inspired me was their “Five Minute Bike Wash.” One of the other Facebook feeds I read offered up Art’s Cyclery’s Bike wash with minimal water, and then there is the GCN “How to clean your bike like a pro” video. I just found the GCN “The 30 Minute Bike Wash” video as I was finishing writing this post, too.

Armed with this information, I hunted through the garage to see what supplies we had (links go to product listing on amazon):

I also discovered that I had an extra equine grooming tote in the same shade of blue as our bike stand, so I cleaned that up and put it in service. So what did I still need? I went to my LBS (Local Bike Shop) and started asking questions. Boy are those some patient people. Anyway, one kind soul showed me how to clean my chain (without getting your hand stuck in the bike) and how to oil the moving components on my drive train: front and rear derailleur, and brake calipers (I think that’s the right word). As usual I bought more than I needed, and I wound up with (in addition to above):

It took probably 45 minutes to wash the bike the first time, and maybe 30 minutes the second time. At this rate I may one day be able to get it done in a reasonable amount of time. So after two washes, this is what I think needs to be part of the kit:

  • A hat in case it’s sunny (I got a sunburn this last time)
  • This nifty One-Hand Pressure Sprayer that we use to wash dishes when we go camping
  • A beer

So after your bike ride you should open the beer and take a swig. Then put your bike on the stand and spray it down with the bike wash. I put like a quart of water in a bucket with a drop of dish soap in it, then pour some degreaser in an old cheese container and start scrubbing at the rear cassette with the brush that looks like a toothbrush. Clean the chain next (pedal backward so the tire can’t crush your fingers, duh). Then I wipe the bike down with the slightly soapy water and car wash sponge. Use the ugly sponge to soap off the cassette. I use a stiff brush to scrub my whitewalls after I’ve taken off the wheels to get in and clean the wheel wells. Then I used the spray thingy to mist off the bike and wiped it down. Make sure to clean all of the degreaser off the chain and cassette. After that I oiled the chain, removing the excess with the red rag, and all of the moving parts of the drive train and brakes. If you don’t have a spray thingy for your water and you share my paranoia with getting your bike wet, I’d suggest getting sprayer for your hose that has a “mist” setting. I have a tendency to accidentally get everything in the range of being squirted wet, including myself, so the squirty thing is a good option for me. Also if you have to wash the bike on your patio or inside the garage it’s pretty useful. [or use a bucket of clean water, like the 30 minute video suggests.]

Anyway, that’s what I’ve learned about bathing the bike. It looks pretty good now. I’m going to go finish my beer now.  Cheers!

* I put asterisk after all of the products I actually used.

By levanah