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Tutorial: How to spring clean your bike

Cyclist magazine
7 Apr 2021

Leave winter grime behind with our guide to getting your bike ship-shape for spring

Nicely coinciding with lockdown restrictions being eased, the sun is also increasingly out and about. This makes it a perfect moment to shed the accumulated winter dirt and grime from your bicycle.

Equally, even if your bike has stood untouched over the rainier months it’ll still likely benefit from a spruce up to get it both looking and working its best.

Luckily for cyclists whose bicycles could do with a spring clean, this needn’t be a time-consuming job.

How to prepare your bike for fair weather riding

You will need: • Bike Wash • Polish • Brushes • Gloves
Time taken: 15 minutes

1. Brush off loose dirt

If you’ve let your bike get properly mucky it’s easier to knock off lumps of dirt before you start hosing it down. When the dirt is wet it’ll smear over the paintwork.

Ue the brushes to loosen the dirt off, but don’t be too enthusiastic as you won’t want to scratch the bike’s lacquer.

2. Wet down

If your bike has got into a truly atrocious state over the winter, you might want to wet it down first to soften up the bigger patches of grime.

However, if it’s not too mucky you can skip this stage and go straight onto the next as most cleaners can be sprayed straight onto dried-on dirt and grime.

3. Spray on

Give the entire bike a good coating of bike cleaning fluid, of a brand of your choosing. This includes all the frame tubes along with the drivetrain and brake callipers and any other grimey bits.

Don’t forget behind the chainrings, under the fork crown, behind the brakes and under the saddle, as dirt likes to accumulate in those spots.

4. Scrub sprockets and hard-to-reach bits

Go back and scrub the mucky patches. Use a thin and hard bristled brush to get in between each of the sprockets on the cassette.

While you’re there, give either side of the jockey wheels on the rear derailleur a scrub too. Assuming it isn’t too gunked up you can give your drivetrain a clean as well.

5. Rinse off

Give the whole bike a rinse down. If you’re using a hose, Keep the pressure low and start at the top and work downwards so the dirt can run off, and avoid spraying directly into the headset, wheel hubs and bottom bracket bearings.

Check for any residual mucky spots and give them a final scrub.

6. Polish and lube

Once the bike has drip-dried you can apply a coating of polish to the frame and components, if you want. Simply spray it on, leave for a minute them buff with a soft cloth.

Doing so won’t just leave your bike looking shiny but will also help to prevent dirt from sticking to it on future rides.

That's the aesthetics sorted, now wipe down the drivetrain with a clean cloth to ensure it's dry and then apply lube.