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  1. #1
    Senior Member Bike-a-Boo's Avatar
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    What's the scoop on cleaning?

    I got a few books from the libary about bike maintenance and they all have a chapter dedicated to cleaning - they all seem to advocate cleaning the bike once a month (more if you ride in wet, muddy conditions).

    Yet, when I search the commuting forum for old threads on cleaning, there seems to be a distinct school of thought that is against cleaning a bike altogether!

    What's up with that? Doesn't mud, dust, etc corrode or otherwise damage the frame and components???

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cheshire's Avatar
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    I clean my chain pretty regularly...as for the rest of the bike, I'm a horrid example to follow.

  3. #3
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    A clean bike is a happy bike. Cleaning your bike give you an opportunity to inspect it for any wear or damage. It also looks nicer.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zoridog's Avatar
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    I wait for the rain to rinse off the mud . Cleaning the bike regularly is a good thing but the fenders keep most of the dirt off anyway. My chain is usually clean.
    I miss bicycle commuting.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sharrison
    I got a few books from the libary about bike maintenance and they all have a chapter dedicated to cleaning - they all seem to advocate cleaning the bike once a month (more if you ride in wet, muddy conditions).

    Yet, when I search the commuting forum for old threads on cleaning, there seems to be a distinct school of thought that is against cleaning a bike altogether!

    What's up with that? Doesn't mud, dust, etc corrode or otherwise damage the frame and components???
    You'll know when to clean your bike by your hands, if you have to lift it up and over anything, or when you have to change a flat tyre. It's nicer to have a clean bike to work on than one coated in crud, especially brake pad crud. Imagine you are running late for work and have to fix that flat and get to a presentation after changing; yourhands are coated in brake dust -- it takes a good 3-5 minute washing to get it off. I suppose you could use gloves...

    My routine is to use a bucket of warm water with washing up detergent and a dish mop (the shaggy dog kind instead of a sponge) will enable you to get into the odd nooks and crannies without skinning and bruising knuckles. Rinse off with clean cold water -- from another bucket instead of a hose because of the risk of blasting water into bearings. When finished, lift up the rear of the bike about eight inches/25cm and drop and repeat on the front; do this several times to dump the excess drips off. Polish when dry. Polish really helps keep the crud at bay. I even do the sidewalls of the tyres because I think they look better and there is some degree of protection from perishing.

    Mudguards/fenders do help.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  6. #6
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Mud & dust don't corrode the bike, moisture does. I beleive that once the mud and crud has dried, you are doing more damage to your bike by getting it wet again. The only routine I have is to regularly lube all moving parts.

    On my commuter, I hit my chain with a wet condition lube after every ride in the rain. Once the rain stops I give the chain & deraileur a good cleaning and put on dry teflon lube. As for the rest of the bike... I beleive that whenever I wash it, I cause it to rain. Its been a pretty dry summer around here thanks to me

    As for the MTB & CX bike, I knock off the large pieces of mud off with the garden hose only because I bring them into the house for security. Aside from that, no washing.

    The road bike gets washed and polished everytime there is a speck of dirt on it because your bike has got to look good in the roadie crowd. :

  7. #7
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    You can get away with a huge backlog of neglect until winter comes. Then you better start paying your dues. I haven't cleaned my bikes all summer. Last winer, the single speeds got washed with soapy water, waxed, chains cleaned with mineral spirits and relubed with compressor oil every 2 weeks.

  8. #8
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    I find cleaning and working on my bike relaxing. Cleaning is performed as needed and when I have time. Usually once a week to once every other week.
    Winters around here have been pathetic. The once in a while snow storm may leave my bike dirty for a week or two at most. As for water, I use a sponge and a towel to dry it off.
    Plus, cleaning a bike gives me another chance to determine if anything needs fixing or tweaking.

  9. #9
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I try to clean my primary bike once a week, but it doesn't always happen due to time constraints or other things. It basically involves wiping it off with a cloth soaked in water, and wiping down the chain with another rag that I've sprayed with some WD-40. That is, of course, before re-lubing the chain (because WD-40 is not really a lube under anything other than emergency circumstances*). Bits that I can't get to with my hands I usually just spray with the WD-40 as well. There are often one or two bits that I miss, but well, if you're cleaning regularly, you can get them next time. My MTB's hardly ever get cleaned at all.

    * Emergency circumstances would be either miles from nowhere on a tour and just need *something*, or if I'm expecting it to rain heavily the next day, in which case a proper clean would be a pointless exercise.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  10. #10
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    Waxing the frame will save a lot of hassle, dirt will not stick easily and will was off in the rain.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Waxing the frame will save a lot of hassle, dirt will not stick easily and will was off in the rain.
    My bike get's cleaned when I notice that it is really dirty. I park next to my desk at work and want to avoid the dirty looks from the janitor if she comes by and sees my bike dripping black/muddy water all over. After a wash down with a low pressure garden hose the frame gets wiped dry then waxed.

    The people who claim you clean your bike so when you do maint. you don't get dirty are full of it. Last time I cleaned my bike, the day after I had a flat tire, and there was still black dust all over the place when I was done. Keep a couple pairs of gloves in your tool kit for this problem.

  12. #12
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Waxing the frame will save a lot of hassle, dirt will not stick easily and will was off in the rain.

    Agreed. I tried some Teflon-based car wax and the frame noticeably was cleaner.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
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  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    Yes it is a good idea to clean and inspect your bike on a regular basis. However I don't often take the time to do this. So I have chosen my ride to minimize the necessitity of doing regular maintence and cleaning. Thats why I ride an old steel frame with 35mm tires and a fixed gear drive train. This is a durable, inexpensive, and reliable bicycle that still performs well even without much maintence.
    I know some people who clean thier bike after every wet ride. Thier bikes will probably look new for years. Mine looked old when I got it and looks continually worse.
    Craig

  14. #14
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I clean my drivetrain and braking surface of my rims. Aside from those, everything else gets "washed" when I ride to work in the rain.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  15. #15
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeakywheel
    You can get away with a huge backlog of neglect until winter comes. Then you better start paying your dues. .

    True dat...

  16. #16
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    I also don't maintain as much as I should. Often when I do, I find a lot of gunky buildup on the rings, cogs, and derailleur wheels. I'm assuming this is the kind of stuff I want to remove, right? I've found a very efficient way to remove it by turning the bike upside down (I don't have a stand), laying a largish flathead screwdriver up to the offending component, and turning the wheel. The gunk just peels right off onto the screwdriver blade. But I wonder if this is a good idea, since it could scratch or slip and damage something. Does anyone else do this, or have a reason to recommend against it?

    I agree that cleaning is kind of relaxing, once you get into it. A bottle of beer helps, and maybe some music or talk radio, as your mood leads you.

    Once I've cleaned the drivetrain and WD-40'd all the cables, I usually can't resist a quick dry wipedown of the frame, since I'm in cleaning mode already. Especially if I've got the wheels removed for another reason, since I can get to the wheel side of the tubes and stays at that point.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
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  17. #17
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    It's actually more of a hassle in the winter, unfortunately, since it's too cold to do it outside. I have to spread a big tarp down in the front room, and the light is not great.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  18. #18
    Cat None SDRider's Avatar
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    I haven't cleaned my bike in over a month. I need to do that soon though. Maybe this week sometime.

  19. #19
    Commuter First newbojeff's Avatar
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    I just truly washed my new commuter that I've had for 3 months this Friday for the first time. Bucket of warm water with dishwashing liquid. Rinsed gently with the spray from the garden hose. It does look a lot beter.

    I generally clean the drivetrain every 1-3 weeks. Supposed to make the drive last longer, but this is controversial. I just love the way a clean drive train feels.

  20. #20
    The AVatar Ninja SaabFan's Avatar
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    I used to commute on a bike that probably went 10 years without cleaning. I'd clean parts if/when I needed to work on them. My current bike gets wiped down several times a week. It's worth more, so I want to keep it in good shape. Plus I have an emotional attachment!

    I think you'll find a couple different schools of thought, but more importantly - a couple different interpretations of "cleaning a bike." If you're referring to cleaning the sensitive working parts (chain, derailleurs, etc) then you'll probably get a much different example than talking about cleaning the more "static" parts (frame, etc.)
    Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: FISH!

  21. #21
    No-Pants Island bbonnn's Avatar
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    Here's a tip: I have horrid trouble getting the black gunk off my skin when I'm cleaning my bike. I could probably use degreaser or a shop hand cleaner, but I don't want those chemicals on my skin.

    I rub regular cooking oil (canola, olive, whatever's around) into the black spots on my skin. This dissolves the oil. Then, soap and water gets rid of the oil.

    Maybe this is common knowledge, but I thought I was so clever for thinking of it with my own little brain.

  22. #22
    The AVatar Ninja SaabFan's Avatar
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    I use shampoo (cheap junk). When you're done rinsing it off, add a few drops of a gel alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It'll strip right through any oil- or grease- based gunk, and it'll even remove the smell of diesel or gas.
    Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: FISH!

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeakywheel
    You can get away with a huge backlog of neglect until winter comes. Then you better start paying your dues. I haven't cleaned my bikes all summer. Last winer, the single speeds got washed with soapy water, waxed, chains cleaned with mineral spirits and relubed with compressor oil every 2 weeks.
    I'm horrible about maintence (except lubing the chain and inflating the tires) and even worse when the weather is bad. I mean how fun is it to clean a grimy bike when it is 20F outside. I will rinse it off when the weather is above freezing for a few days but mostly I just keep adding chain lube, with the occasional spray of T-9 on exposed metals.
    Thats why I ride a bike that keeps working under these conditions. I guess if I could bring the bike into an area above freezing to clean it I might do it more often but my basement is finished and the garage is deattached.
    Craig

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike2math
    My bike get's cleaned when I notice that it is really dirty. I park next to my desk at work and want to avoid the dirty looks from the janitor if she comes by and sees my bike dripping black/muddy water all over. After a wash down with a low pressure garden hose the frame gets wiped dry then waxed.

    The people who claim you clean your bike so when you do maint. you don't get dirty are full of it. Last time I cleaned my bike, the day after I had a flat tire, and there was still black dust all over the place when I was done. Keep a couple pairs of gloves in your tool kit for this problem.
    Then you didn't clean it properly, did you?
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  25. #25
    Newbie Commuter
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    You can clean a bike?

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