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  1. #1
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    Road Bike Cleaning Question(s)

    Hello all.

    I've had a little browse and search but can't really find something answering my questions, so I figured I may as well post them and ask.

    I've had my road bike a year now and my cleaning routine has basically been to wipe it down after every ride in adverse/wet weather, and then to hose it and muc-off/lube/oil it every month-ish.

    It then dawned on me that I'm probably doing something wrong along the line somewhere so did some Googling. Problem being that it's difficult to tell a lot of times who the forum posts or articles it throws up are aimed at - some said to not even ever wash but just wipe down, some said to totally disassemble and clean and lube every part etc

    Now being a bit of a clean freak kinda sometimes (when I can be bothered, it's a strange one) and also being one who wants to master my machine, I'd eventually like to go down the route of taking it apart and cleaning it. I don't mean to the extreme, just the wheels off, chain off, that sort of thing - basically splitting it into main parts to make it easier to clean and more accessible.

    So my babbling question is thus: what's the best way to go about this? To this point I've leaned it against the wall in the garden and hosed it, then wiped down parts and applied muc-off then rinsed that off then lubed and oiled. I also saw something about not to use a pressure washer, but it didn't really explain why?
    Also I quite fancy one of those chain gear cleaning things that you clamp on - are they worth it? And should I get some sort of bike stand?
    What are the best tools to use? I have a steel bristle toothbrush thing that I use on the chain to get all the bits of grit and dirt out (not that there often is any)

    So yeah any info would be appreciated. Tell me where I'm being over the top and tell me where I'm neglecting etc, thank you very much.
    I'm a bit of a total noob slash total idiot when it comes to the mechanics of it as well and what a perfectly smooth running bike should sound like or feel like etc so info there would be nice too.

    Thank you!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member seymour1910's Avatar
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    Get a work stand, this is a good one. Everyone has their method and to be hoonest their is no wrong way other then using a pressure washer.
    Get you a bucket and some soapy water and wash the frame really good from top to bottom. Take the wheels off and use something of your choice to clean the wheels and brake tract. Clean the brake pads too, or sand them if glazed. You can remove the chain if you want but you can also get it clean without removing it. Rinse the bike with a hose and wipe dry. Others will add to it, but you don't have to completely take everything apart.

    really good solid work stand http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...400152__400152

  3. #3
    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    I just wash mine in the bathtub with dish soap, a rag, and a stiff plastic brush. Then I rinse it off with my water bottle, let it dry, and re-apply lube to chain, derailers, and brakes. I'm not savy enough to do more, but I don't believe any more need be done on a regular basis. I'll probably take it to the LBS for a full breakdown clean and lube over the winter months.

  4. #4
    Senior Member seymour1910's Avatar
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  5. #5
    Senior Member danmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    I just wash mine in the bathtub with dish soap, a rag, and a stiff plastic brush. Then I rinse it off with my water bottle, let it dry, and re-apply lube to chain, derailers, and brakes. I'm not savy enough to do more, but I don't believe any more need be done on a regular basis. I'll probably take it to the LBS for a full breakdown clean and lube over the winter months.
    You wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/significant other allows you to take your bike into the bathtub with you?

  6. #6
    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danmc View Post
    You wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/significant other allows you to take your bike into the bathtub with you?
    I just do it when she's out of the house. I light some candles, turn on some Bublé, poor a glass of wine...

  7. #7
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    The whole bike breakdown thing for deep cleaning is really overrated. I felt the same as you and did it a few times, but it was really no better than cleaning the bike without removing the cassette and chain.

    You can get 95% of the same cleaning of the cassette and chain with a stiff brush + degreaser to scrub the cassette and chain (while it's still on the bike) and a spray from a garden hose to get the degreased stuff off. The final spray from the garden hose is key for getting it shiny.

    You can clean small parts like derailleurs with a small toothbrush as well without removing anything.

    Some people swear by the chain cleaning device - I hate it. (I have the Park Tool one). I feel like I get a much better clean by manually scrubbing the chain with the stiff brush and then blasting it with the garden hose, which seems to knock loose debris better than the machine, which never gets all the dark spots off my chain.

    It's much faster, 98% as effective, and you'll thus clean the bike more. I'd just forget about deep cleaning cassettes and chains by removing them unless you're already removing them for other reasons.

  8. #8
    Upgrading my engine DXchulo's Avatar
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    You don't need a bike stand just for washing your bike, but it does make things quicker & easier. Are you going to do your own repairs & maintenance? If so, I highly recommend getting one. I went a long time without one, which made for a lot of wasted time over the years.

    As for the chain cleaning devices, I had one of those and didn't find it all that useful. It doesn't really save any time over using an old toothbrush and a rag, and it certainly doesn't get the chain any cleaner.

    You don't want to use a pressure washer because you want to keep water & dirt out of your bearings. You'll see pro mechanics use them, but they have a lot of bikes to wash in a very short time and they can afford to replace parts more often than most of us can.

    My cleaning process is pretty simple. I use old toothbrushes on the chain, crank, cassette, derailleurs, and rims. Everything else gets washed with a wet rag. It doesn't rain much here, so I do a full wash maybe 1-3 times a month.
    centuryperweek.blogspot.com

  9. #9
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    I get some lysol wipes( I have a bunch laying around) and take to my bike. Cleans them well, but for chain and drive train I do take a garden hose brush to it. I do the chain once every 2 weeks and wipe the bike down every 3-4 days.

  10. #10
    Senior Member cxwrench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seymour1910 View Post
    That's pretty much how it's done. For the average rider in 'average' conditions, maybe once a month for this. We wash the team bikes like this every day, but that's way too much for the normal rider. On my personal bike i'll use bike-wipes every now and then if it gets a little dirty, and do the wash thing once a month or so. My mountain bike gets washed every ride, except in the spring/fall when it's not muddy or dusty. In the winter and once it dries out in the summer...no fail, every ride.
    Please don't call them "brifters", that just sounds stupid. Really.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the advice folks. A stand is near enough a necessity then if I want to be cleaning my bike thoroughly enough.
    I'm happy to ditch the pressure washer approach, would no doubt be simpler, easier and ultimately more effective just using a bucket of soapy water. So will that do? Just standard soapy water? (Plus obviously the bike-specific cleaning things like degreaser, oil etc)

    I have a metallic brush thing (I think it's for cleaning ovens) - would that be okay for scrubbing my chain and derailleur? Or should I avoid that and go with just a firm plastic toothbrush?

    Thanks folks.

    Oh and as for stands, had no idea they were so pricey!

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seymour1910 View Post
    Yep. I watched that video, then bought the brushes, chain cleaner, bike lust, etc. Works great. Totally worth buying that stuff, especially the brushes and the chain thingie.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    You're from Scotland. The next time there's a professional road race, a staged race (multi days), go there at the finish and follow the team buses. They usually park at designated areas near the hotels. Then watch first hand how the pro mechanics clean the bikes after the days race. Take photos to make sure you get the idea.

    Yours will be somewhat like theirs. More or less.

  14. #14
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    Road Bike Cleaning Question(s)

    Never had a stand and I have taken apart and reassembled hundreds of bikes. An old innertube looped around a garage or basement rafter does the trick. Hang the bike from the saddle. Good as gold.
    If you are a real cyclist and want to really get in touch with the soul of your machine, strip it down to its bones, clean everything, and reassemble. Its a bike. Its a simple machine. I just like the time spent taking my bike apart, inspecting, lubing, its all part of the cycling experience. The more you do it the better the mechanic you will be. Makes tracking down annoying ticks and clicks easier too. And are you really a cyclist if you're not a mechanic too?

  15. #15
    An Average Joe Cyclelogikal's Avatar
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    When the bike gets to looking a bit grunged I simply use a cleaner I get from a local store (degreaser) and wet the bike down then spray the cleaner on and if stubborn stains use my hand to work it lose then spray off. I then clean the cassette and front chain rings and use a brush sometimes as well. After all that I let the bike air dry then lube the chain with a chain lube and ready to go on the next epic ride!

    I do wax the frame once a year and break down the cassette and degrease totally. Usually that is a winter project when I am bored and need to have some alone time to listen to my 80's music and yes, wait for it, smoke a stogie and relax!
    I am just a spoke in a broken wheel!

  16. #16
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    I like the chain cleaner thing.

    I wouldn't use an oven brush on the bike, sounds too harsh, use a stiff nylon bristle brush. The ones meant for cleaning your bike are nice b/c they are shaped well and pretty stiff.

    I use this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Pedros-Pro-Bru...s=pedros+brush

    and this
    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._1030344_-1___

    and a bucket of water with car-wash or dish soap in it, and a regular kitchen sponge.

    THe bike stand makes it a lot easier.
    ...

  17. #17
    Senior Member btographer's Avatar
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    I use to use a citrus cleaner on the entire bike, but was told by a Trek rep that it is too harsh for paint. He suggested using a good car wash soap. I like to finish with Pedro's Bike Lust...nice stuff!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    I just do it when she's out of the house. I light some candles, turn on some Bublé, poor a glass of wine...
    You must teach me your ways!
    Trek 1.5

  19. #19
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    Wet paper towel to clean the frame and wheels, a rag to clean my chain lubed with Boeshield, and a spray of Simple Green and cardboard to clean the cassette. It's not rocket surgery.

  20. #20
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    For me the quick clean is the chain/drivetrain. I use a Finishline Grunge brush and a Park or Pedros regular brush along with Simple Green (and before that a citrus based solvent). This can take as few as 5 minutes, usually more like 10 minutes. I've done this before a race, even in the parking lot, and I usually to do this after every rainy/wet ride.

    http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...ike-quick.html

    For a more thorough cleaning I wash the whole bike. When I took these pictures we lived in an apartment complex with no outdoor water/faucets. This meant I had to bring out all the water in buckets. I used to do this weekly but now it's really unusual, like a few times a year.

    http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...lustrated.html

    I use spray type car polish, the kind meant to detail your car between waxing. It's the same stuff you use to lubricate clay when you're claying your car (which I do to the car but not to the bike).

  21. #21
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    +1 for brushes and you don't need soap and water to use brushes. you also don't kneed cycling specific brushes.

    the last thing I clean are the wheels rims (braking surfaces) with simple green and paper towels. caution though VERY STRONG ODER from that stuff!
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by DXchulo View Post
    You don't want to use a pressure washer because you want to keep water & dirt out of your bearings. You'll see pro mechanics use them, but they have a lot of bikes to wash in a very short time and they can afford to replace parts more often than most of us can.
    I used to sling motorcycle and ATV parts for quite a few years. I used to tell the guys that kept coming in for wheel bearings repeatedly to consider at least backing away a few feet with the pressure washer. Quite often people don't realize how much pressure those crank out. Obviously my education isn't bicycle specific but I can attest to how easily a pressure washer can push water past seals and drive out grease where a garden hose will have no chance of doing the same thing. (as long as seals are in good condition)

    Thanks for the video link, looks like that will be my basic approach as I save and save and save for my workstand.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Square Wheels's Avatar
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    In the video they replaced the cassette / wheel with a chain holder. Why? Can't I clean the chain with the wheel on, then take the wheel off and clean the cassette?

  24. #24
    Senior Member Paul Y.'s Avatar
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    Start with a good stand. You can really clean the bike knowing its not going to fall over.
    Lynskey R120 .Titanium is a beautiful thing!
    LeMond Croix de Fer. Steel is real!

  25. #25
    Senior Member heresy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Square Wheels View Post
    In the video they replaced the cassette / wheel with a chain holder. Why? Can't I clean the chain with the wheel on, then take the wheel off and clean the cassette?
    That is what I have always done, although now I want one of those chain holder things.
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