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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 12-30-09, 10:33 AM   #1
pharasz
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When is it time to wash your bike?

I've had my bike for six months and I think I last washed it about three months ago. I'm home all this week on a "stay-cation", and I guess I need to get off my lazy butt and wash it. I should start the New Year commute on a nice clean bike...

I used to mount my bike on a bike rack on the back of my car, drive it to a DIY car wash, and use the hi-power pressure washer to clean it. As you can imagine, this goes against manufacturer recommendations, and I eventually paid the price by having my bottom bracket replaced because the high pressure blows the lubricant right out of your bearings. It was a great technique for about six months...

Now I just use liberal amounts of dish detergent (to cut the grease), a brush, a bucket, a rag, and a garden hose in the back yard. After the final rinse I use an old towel for drying and wiping off any remaining grease spots.

When I wash my bike I spend a good hour or more cleaning it, and it looks like new when it is finished. This is probably why I don't wash it more often - too much work! How often do you clean your bike and how long does it take you. Any good techniques to share?
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Old 12-30-09, 10:59 AM   #2
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I wipe down the frame with hot wet rags, degrease, clean and lube the drivetrain (on the bike) once a week in rainy season, once a month or less in summer. Takes 30-45 minutes. Doesn't get it spotless, but close enough.
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Old 12-30-09, 11:28 AM   #3
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I usually wash it after riding in the snow or heavy rain. I don't use soap, though. Just a damp towel, then dry it. I spend the most time cleaning the rims, followed by the frame. For the drivetrain, I just wipe with a rag and apply a little lube. It takes about 10 minutes in all and I do it roughly once/week in the winter and once/month in the summer.
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Old 12-30-09, 11:32 AM   #4
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I do it roughly once/week in the winter and once/month in the summer.

I'm with him on this one. More frequently in the summer if I ride in rain/slop.
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Old 12-30-09, 12:00 PM   #5
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Once a week or so in winter, Once a month in summer.
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Old 12-30-09, 12:58 PM   #6
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I can't remember when I last washed my bike (seriously, I remember doing it, but can't remember when). Had to have been at least 6 months ago.

But then, not much slop to ride through out in the desert.
I do clean/lube my chain every month or so...
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Old 12-30-09, 02:08 PM   #7
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I clean the drivetrain weekly. Everything else MAYBE every 6 months. I am considering giving it its first wash this season. The road grit is getting a bit much, even for me.
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Old 12-30-09, 02:15 PM   #8
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When you guys say clean the drive train, do you mean removing the chain, soaking it in degreaser, and running a brush over the front chain rings and through rear cluster?

I have full fenders and not a whole lot of gunk is getting kicked up into my drivetrain (at least not more than usual), and I haven't washed it yet this winter.
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Old 12-30-09, 03:44 PM   #9
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I don't think I've ever washed my bike. I clean and lube the drivetrain, but that's it. Rain usually takes care of the rest. Might occasionally wipe off some parts with a rag, but I've never taken soapy water to the frame.
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Old 12-30-09, 04:01 PM   #10
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my commute i only clean the drivetrain once every 2 weeks, or once a month if i'm lazy. my road bike i wipe down frame and drivetrain every 100-200miles.

by cleaning drivetrain i mean. filling up a chain cleaner halfway with simple green, and rest water. run the chain threw for a miniute or so. use a tooth brush to clean the cassette, jockey pullys and chain ring. rise out the chain cleaner and use water. run threw again, then wipe dry with a rag. after that i add chain lube and wipe it down once more with a dry rag.





my commute bike i don't care as much about, so long as the wheels roll and the chain works i am happy. my road bike i am a bit more anal about keeping nice. i hear babywipes are good for wiping down frame and other parts. make sure you wear plastic gloves and clothes you don't mind getting grease on.

http://www.jimlangley.net/wrench/cleandrivetrain.htm
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Old 12-30-09, 04:20 PM   #11
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I will use a spray stainless polish/cleaner to clean and lube my chain; about 3-4 times a year, I'll take a brush to the dirt. Never have washed this bike. Or the one before it, for that matter.
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Old 12-30-09, 07:14 PM   #12
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I have never really properly washed my bike. I don't really see the point. I blast the thing with a power washer in the summer, and I do clean the chain and the rest of the drivetrain, but I ride on 8 miles of gravel road a day; I could head out with a brand new bike and it would be covered with dust (or mud if it's wet out) within a mile, so there's really no point.

The drivetrain DOES need service though - again with the clay binding in the gravel road, if I don't clean and lube after a rainy ride, the next morning the chain will not bend. I'll have to go down the chain one link at a time and force each link to break loose, then do a rather laborious clean and lube. In the summer I can often go a few weeks without a lube but in the wet fall and spring, I'm often servicing the chain 2 or even more times a week.

It gets way dirtier in the winter, but I also can't do much about it in the winter - how am I going to wash the bike when it never gets above freezing?

I haven't washed my car in probably 8 years either. Again, why would I? I don't drive that on the gravel road so much, but I don't really care if it's clean or not.
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Old 12-30-09, 07:52 PM   #13
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I blast the thing with a power washer in the summer


I hope you are careful to avoid bearings.
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Old 12-30-09, 08:19 PM   #14
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how am I going to wash the bike when it never gets above freezing?
Mine gets a rinse in the shower after every slushy or wet ride. Once a month it gets a soap and water scrubbing.





Of course, I understand that females seem to dislike the idea intensely...
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Old 12-30-09, 10:40 PM   #15
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Mine gets a rinse in the shower after every slushy or wet ride. Once a month it gets a soap and water scrubbing.





Of course, I understand that females seem to dislike the idea intensely...

I don't understand why they would have an issue showering with a bike in there with them. Its clean afterall

Hey! It's only weird if you make it weird
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Old 12-30-09, 10:43 PM   #16
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Idea!

The bike has such a convenient seat to sit down on while showering if you put it down normally. Ahh, bike love.

Is there nothing the bike can't help us with?

TSL: take a pic of your bike in bed. The wife never has to know.
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Old 12-30-09, 10:46 PM   #17
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Mine gets rinsed off by the occasional rain shower. That's the extent of the cleaning.
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Old 12-31-09, 09:28 AM   #18
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Well my old hybrid trek beater isn't going to get washed again until it warms up some...perhaps in March. My C&Vs stay fluffy.
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Old 12-31-09, 10:11 AM   #19
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Mine gets a rinse in the shower after every slushy or wet ride. Once a month it gets a soap and water scrubbing.





Of course, I understand that females seem to dislike the idea intensely...
I doubt my wife would find enough value in my riding a clean bike to find this sort of thing acceptable.

Edit: I'm not sure I find enough value in riding a clean bike to find this sort of thing acceptable ;-)

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Old 12-31-09, 10:13 AM   #20
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I clean and maintain the drivetrain as necessary. The bikes get a good cleaning once or twice a year. Maybe an occasional wipe down at other times.
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Old 12-31-09, 10:23 AM   #21
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Mine gets a rinse in the shower after every slushy or wet ride. Once a month it gets a soap and water scrubbing.

Of course, I understand that females seem to dislike the idea intensely...
Yes, my wife threatened me with violence I'm only allowed to wash wheels in the tub... and small parts in the kitchen sink. I'm lucky I live in a house where I can use the space outside and the hose, otherwise my marriage would be in serious trouble

On a serious note, I wipe my bike regularly with a soft cotton cloth and clean the drivetrain after each messy ride with a brush, or at least once a week so I can go months between washes. As long as moving parts are clean I can tolerate a dirty bike.

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Old 12-31-09, 11:04 AM   #22
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Hell, *I* wouldn't bring that nasty thing through my house. Seriously, if I wanted to keep my bike clean, I'd have to do that at both ends of my commute, pretty much every ride.

I don't even want to think about what my wife would think of the whole idea.

If I used "soft cotton cloths" to clean my bike, I'd need a 3 foot stack of them twice a day. Here's what my drivetrain and chainstay/wheel look like after a ride in a light rain, even if the bike is clean before that one ride. BTW, this is an example of a chain that does not bend; I didn't clean/lube it after that ride, this is the next day.
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Old 12-31-09, 11:16 AM   #23
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I clean and maintain the drivetrain as necessary. The bikes get a good cleaning once or twice a year. Maybe an occasional wipe down at other times.
I just think it's hilarious that he has a bike hook in his shower. I'm allowed to make all the mess I want in our garage (a.k.a. my bike shop), but there's no way I could ever bring a bike in our bathroom. His bike does look very clean, though.
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Old 12-31-09, 11:25 AM   #24
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Hell, *I* wouldn't bring that nasty thing through my house. Seriously, if I wanted to keep my bike clean, I'd have to do that at both ends of my commute, pretty much every ride.

I don't even want to think about what my wife would think of the whole idea.

If I used "soft cotton cloths" to clean my bike, I'd need a 3 foot stack of them twice a day. Here's what my drivetrain and chainstay/wheel look like after a ride in a light rain, even if the bike is clean before that one ride. BTW, this is an example of a chain that does not bend; I didn't clean/lube it after that ride, this is the next day.
Added Michigan to the list of "places I don't want to move to"

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Old 12-31-09, 11:51 AM   #25
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I just think it's hilarious that he has a bike hook in his shower. I'm allowed to make all the mess I want in our garage (a.k.a. my bike shop), but there's no way I could ever bring a bike in our bathroom. His bike does look very clean, though.
I'll occasionally bring my bike in to the kitchen to work on it, when my wife's not there. The bathroom...that's too ugly to contemplate
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