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Winter Cleaning

Old 02-12-11, 09:53 AM
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ajames15
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Winter Cleaning

Even though it's February, I'm still trying to figure this out. How do you clean your bike during the winter? I live in an apartment with very young children, so I don't have a garage and my space is limited where I can work with chemicals, without risking my children getting into them. I also still have about 7" of snow outside (where I usually clean my bike).

So what do I do to make sure my bike (especially the drivetrain) is properly cleaned?
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Old 02-12-11, 10:17 AM
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I cleaned my bike with a paint brush and a can of diesel. After braking down most of the grease with the diesel I road to a do it yourself car wash. I put a few quarters in the machine and went to town.
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Old 02-12-11, 12:38 PM
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What chemicals are you using? I use a spray bottle filled with water and wipe down with a rag. I re-lube the chain every now and then as well. However I am able to keep my bikes in an unfinished basement. Where are you cleaning your bike at?
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Old 02-12-11, 01:18 PM
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I have similar space issues, and health concerns. I just throw an old shower curtain on the living room floor and clean the whole bike with dish washing liquid (mild degreaser) and water. I ride every day and I've been doing this for years. It's worked well for me. Harsher solvents might speed up the job, but they've been unnecessary for me.

The chain can be cleaned with the same dish washing liquid and water, rinsed clean with water, and re-oiled. I use a Park Tool CG-2 to make the process a little easier. An old toothbrush is useful too.
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Old 02-12-11, 01:40 PM
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I use the shower and a rag with dish soap. Simple Green and a toothbrush if the drivetrain is in need of cleaning. Kerosene and a mason jar (outdoors) if the chain is really mucked up.
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Old 02-12-11, 02:04 PM
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I park mine in the shop to dry off and go over it with a whisk brush. This gets most of the dirt and crud.
Next I wipe it down with a damp towel. this gets most of the non-oil based crud.
For the oily stuff I use a rag with a little diesel on it, then wipe off the residue.
Every couple months I remove the chain and rear derailleur for a proper clean and lube.
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Old 02-12-11, 02:25 PM
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My method is very similar to the Militant Spud's.





The bikes have their own cleaning bucket and rags. Warm water and (blue) Dawn on everything. Then the chain and cassette go in the bucket with some Simple Green Automotive Degreaser diluted with water 8:1. (The one-gallon size costs $10 at Auto Zone and lasts me about two years.) Scrub, rinse, dry them on the radiator. Meanwhile, the bikes get wiped-down with Pedro's Bike Lust.

If the shower is clean, nothing from the bikes sticks. The grease and dirt will stick to soap scum, so I usually clean the tub first. However, with a wife and kids, you'll have to clean the tub last.

The bikes are stoked, BTW, that this weekend is their mid-winter desalination and spa treatment.

As for routine cleaning, they get hosed-down after every messy ride before being hung on their hooks in the living room. Twice a week the chains are wiped-down and relubed.

Last edited by tsl; 02-12-11 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 02-12-11, 02:33 PM
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+1 on the Simple Green and toothbrush. I also used one of those plastic cases with the rotating brushes for the chain. When I had to do it inside the house, I broke down a big cardboard box and laid it flat on the floor, on top of a cheap WalMart entryway floor mat. Once it was dry I re-lubed the chain with some high-quality chain oil and took some silicone spray to the sprockets, cassette, and dérailleurs.

If you're wondering why I used past tense, it's because now I rock with a belt drive/IGH bike, and cleaning the drivetrain is a thing of the past. I'll just hose the works down in the Spring.
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Old 02-12-11, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ajames15 View Post
Even though it's February, I'm still trying to figure this out. How do you clean your bike during the winter? I live in an apartment with very young children, so I don't have a garage and my space is limited where I can work with chemicals, without risking my children getting into them. I also still have about 7" of snow outside (where I usually clean my bike).

So what do I do to make sure my bike (especially the drivetrain) is properly cleaned?
There is no need to use any toxic or dangerous chemicals. I live in a highrise apt, and I have 3 bikes. In winter I always carry a plastic brush and before I take my bike inside
I brush off the snow/slush and as much dirt as I can. When the bike is dry I use the rag and wipe the bike down... dirt falls off very easily when its dry. As for drivetrain all
I do is just lube the chain and wipe off excess oil. Toothbrush is very good for cleaning drivetrain or any hard to reach areas.
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Old 02-12-11, 04:04 PM
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Foaming tire cleaner from the automotive section -- Armor All works well, Son of a Gun does nearly as well -- the quality difference is about the same as the price difference. Spray on, walk away, come back with an old towel about 20-30 minutes later, and wipe it off. Does okay with the chain, too, in case you have to lube it later. If you have little ones, start this about 10 minutes after they fall asleep.
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Old 02-12-11, 04:50 PM
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ajames15
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The only thing I use that is harsher than dishsoap is the degreaser I use on my drivetrain. I'll probably use it less often, though. I was thinking about the shower method, and I may use that for more in depth washings, but I think the frequent, little cleaning done right after a ride is the best way to go. It's just been driving me nuts this winter (being my first with a bike), that I haven't been able to have as convenient environment to clean my bike of as I did in the other three months.
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Old 02-12-11, 06:15 PM
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My space is limited also. So I do everything outside. I rinse it off with hot water, let it dry and take it inside. I'll clean the chain as necessary, usually with a chain cleaner and Simple Green. That's it for the cold months. In the warm months I'll use the SG and water and wipe it down real nice. Maybe buff it with some Pledge furniture polish. But I usually keep it grungy looking so no one gets tempted to rip it off.



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