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Cleaning Bike and Cleaner / Lubricants

Old 12-26-17, 06:28 PM
  #1  
Witterings
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Cleaning Bike and Cleaner / Lubricants

I've searched and watched quite a few videos on how to clean your bike and at least 75/85% are subliminally aimed at marketing a product ... If I just want to give a bike a reasonable clean once in a while and without paying way over the top and can use none specific bicycle products as alternatives ... I'd be really interested to hear what most use and if good old fashioned washing up liquid will do ... or cause your brakes to fail when you need them most.

Nowadays it seems it's more about marketing than anything else, ..... I rode a bikes between the ages of 6 to 18 ..... I may possibly have washed one of them once and only ever put a bit of 3 in 1 oil on the chain once every couple of years at best and never had any problems.

That said I'm cycling now more as a sport so don't mind giving my bike a bit more "care" especially as in my earlier years it was all road cycling and now are more gravel track (some of them quite muddy in parts) but still with on-road as well.

A few of the videos that didn't seem quite so orientated to selling a specific bike product mentioned Simple Green (although Simple Green isn't available in the UK but it looks like Fairy Power Spray is a comparable product) that they used all over the bike including as a degreaser to clean the drive train ... that said the videos could of been made to market Simple Green to the cycling market ... but if it does the job as well at a 1/4 the cost of specific bike products that works for me.

I'm also tempted just to use 3 in 1 oil unless someone can tell me a specific reason not to and why other products may be more beneficial.

I'm going to grab myself a couple of brushes but again I doubt they need to be bike / label specific ... I'm guessing just a standard soft brush for most of the frame and a more bristly for the drive chain should suffice???

Last edited by Witterings; 12-26-17 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 12-26-17, 07:39 PM
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Yeah, any kind of mild soap and a soft brush will do for most of it.

I used to use Simple Green full-strength for degreasing drive parts; it's pretty harmless but not as aggressive as, say, petroleum solvents. Smells nice, too. There are others with similar environmental benefits, such as Fast Orange.

Just don't use any kind of high-pressure spray; it can force water into your bearings. Avoid riding through deep water for the same reason.
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Old 12-26-17, 09:03 PM
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Agree with rollagain on not using high pressure spray. I even avoid using a water hose and spraying directly on hubs and the bottom bracket.

Dawn works fine for washing. Everyone has a lube preference and ritual. There have been a million threads on that.
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Old 12-26-17, 09:04 PM
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Here are some fun videos on the topic:



And this next one is good because they test what happens w/jet washing:


As for me, I mainly use spray cleaner and some rags, focusing on the drive train and trying to keep the chain reasonably clear of gunk.
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Old 12-26-17, 10:03 PM
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Joy dish detergent works well for most things, as does dawn and Simple Green. I use a fine hose spray, and use a mild degreaser on my drivetrain.

My understanding is that 3 in 1 Oil tends to get "gunky" with age. t least that is the case with the can of 3 in 1 in my shop. On bike chains it also tends to collect a lot of crud. Depending on riding conditions, a light (thin) chain lube does a good job. I prefer White Lightning Epic, but there are many good chain lubes on the market. I lube the chain about every 400 miles. In wet weather it is lubed more often, or I'll switch to a wet weather lube (thick). If I am riding in really wet weather, I might lube every 3 days. On one tour my wife and I encountered 35 days of rain. I had to stop at a bike shop and pick up another bottle of chain lube.

An old toothbrush is also handy.

On long tours I try to wash and do maintenance on our bikes about every 2 weeks. It is a good time to check for loose bolts, etc. When I am home, I use auto paste wax on the frame and forks about 3 times a year.

This campground happened to have a hose handy and a good place to clean the bikes. A cut down sports drink bottle makes a nice disposable bucket.


Last edited by Doug64; 12-26-17 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 12-26-17, 10:05 PM
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When it gets particularly bad, I use a 5-gallon bucket with water and car wash soap (Meguairs, Turtle Was, whatever's handy) and a soft bristled brush. Otherwise, it's spray detailer and microfibers. I just clean the bikes the way I would the car.

...but, I use a waxed chain with a quick-link, so that just gets popped off before a water wash. Nothing gets greasy, so I don't need heavy detergents or degreasers. Ever.
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Old 12-26-17, 10:10 PM
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i started using pledge on the frame, does a great job. just don't spray on the rims. might not stop to easy.
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Old 12-26-17, 11:04 PM
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Prepare:
1 spray bottle of diluted cleaning solution (I use Simple Green, but honestly most anything that cuts grease will do)
1 five gallon bucket of water
1 microfiber covered automotive sponge
1 chain cleaner (optional)
3ish cotton rags
WD40
Lubricant (Prolink in the Summer, Boeshield in the winter)

Process:
Flick off areas of heavy mud/dirt with my fingers (on the frame) or a soft dry brush (wheels mostly)
Spray down entire bike with bottle and let sit for a minute or two
Using a drenched sponge, wash off the majority of the bike (I generally don't wash brake rotors ever and only wash shifters if I rode in the rain which is almost never)
On mountain bikes, use a gong brush to clean tires and rims
Use an old toothbrush to get in the tight corners
Run the chain through the cleaner once with stuff from the bottle, twice with plain water.
Lift the bike, spin the tires and chain, bounce the bike (rubber down, of course) off the pavement to knock the water off
If it's a hot summer day, ride the bike briefly and clean stuff up while letting it sit in the sun for a few minutes
Wipe the bike down with clean rags if it's still wet
Relube chain, derailleurs and rim brake calipers
Spray a little WD-40 or Boeshield in various bolt heads, suspension stanchions, pedal mechanisms etc to drive off water. Keep lube and WD-40 well away from rotors.

Notes:
I wash my MTBs after every ride
I wipe down road and gravel bikes with a damp microfiber cloth (including the chain) after every ride and wash them once they seem to need it.
I never relube dirty chains and run very light lubricant levels in general. I wipe off all external lube and only relube if the chain is actually squeaking. A clean but dry, noisy chain is actually more efficient and less wearing than a silent but dirty chain.
Prolink is very light and doesn't attract dirt but not very long lasting and not very quieting.
Boeshield forms a terrific protective film on stuff and serves as a reasonable lubricant but it's a bit of a pain to clean off of stuff once it dries (which is kind of the point).
WD-40 is an excellent water displacer and cleaner.
If shifters every get stiff, I'll flush them with a lot of WD-40 and then relube with Prolink.
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Old 12-27-17, 05:08 AM
  #9  
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There's one brush that's specific and works well on the cassette

https://www.parktool.com/product/gearclean-brush-gsc-1
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Old 12-27-17, 05:28 AM
  #10  
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Cheers for all teh replies and working my way through the video's ... a couple of which I'd seen.

What do you do to clean the rotors, do you use something like Simple Green on them or leave them well alone???
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Old 12-27-17, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
What do you do to clean the rotors, do you use something like Simple Green on them or leave them well alone???
I leave rotors alone unless there is a specific problem, because I don't want to disturb the pad material that's been transferred to them.
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Old 12-27-17, 09:11 AM
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NFS is the best chain lube in the universe. It's a fact.
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Old 12-27-17, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
NFS is the best chain lube in the universe. It's a fact.


I'm pretty sure it's "time to ask again" what chain lube to use
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Old 12-27-17, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post


I'm pretty sure it's "time to ask again" what chain lube to use

Don't tempt me like that!
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Old 12-27-17, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Prepare:
1 spray bottle of diluted cleaning solution (I use Simple Green, but honestly most anything that cuts grease will do)
1 five gallon bucket of water
1 microfiber covered automotive sponge
1 chain cleaner (optional)
3ish cotton rags
WD40
Lubricant (Prolink in the Summer, Boeshield in the winter)

Process:
Flick off areas of heavy mud/dirt with my fingers (on the frame) or a soft dry brush (wheels mostly)
Spray down entire bike with bottle and let sit for a minute or two
Using a drenched sponge, wash off the majority of the bike (I generally don't wash brake rotors ever and only wash shifters if I rode in the rain which is almost never)
On mountain bikes, use a gong brush to clean tires and rims
Use an old toothbrush to get in the tight corners
Run the chain through the cleaner once with stuff from the bottle, twice with plain water.
Lift the bike, spin the tires and chain, bounce the bike (rubber down, of course) off the pavement to knock the water off
If it's a hot summer day, ride the bike briefly and clean stuff up while letting it sit in the sun for a few minutes
Wipe the bike down with clean rags if it's still wet
Relube chain, derailleurs and rim brake calipers
Spray a little WD-40 or Boeshield in various bolt heads, suspension stanchions, pedal mechanisms etc to drive off water. Keep lube and WD-40 well away from rotors.

Notes:
I wash my MTBs after every ride
I wipe down road and gravel bikes with a damp microfiber cloth (including the chain) after every ride and wash them once they seem to need it.
I never relube dirty chains and run very light lubricant levels in general. I wipe off all external lube and only relube if the chain is actually squeaking. A clean but dry, noisy chain is actually more efficient and less wearing than a silent but dirty chain.
Prolink is very light and doesn't attract dirt but not very long lasting and not very quieting.
Boeshield forms a terrific protective film on stuff and serves as a reasonable lubricant but it's a bit of a pain to clean off of stuff once it dries (which is kind of the point).
WD-40 is an excellent water displacer and cleaner.
If shifters every get stiff, I'll flush them with a lot of WD-40 and then relube with Prolink.
The OCD is strong in this one

Honestly, I never wash my mountain bikes and seldom wash my road bikes. For mountain bikes, it doesn't matter if the bike looks showroom fresh at the trailhead because it's not going to look like that at the end of the ride. Having a bit of dirt (or a lot!) from a previous ride (or a ride from 10 years ago) isn't going to hurt the bike. It's a badge of honor.

Same with road bikes. I'm not selling a sponsor product so I can ride without caring what the fans think.

Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius View Post
Agree with rollagain on not using high pressure spray. I even avoid using a water hose and spraying directly on hubs and the bottom bracket.
Originally Posted by rollagain View Post
Just don't use any kind of high-pressure spray; it can force water into your bearings. Avoid riding through deep water for the same reason.
You should both look at the third video from GCN that JonathanGennick posted. Three minutes of direct spray at a modern sealed bottom bracket resulted in minimal water infiltration. I wouldn't direct the hand wand at a bearing surface but using a car wash isn't going to result in flushing out the grease in a bearing. Old unseal bearings...like from the 1980s...are probably not going to stand up well to direct spray from a power washer but those aren't all that common anymore.

On the other hand, a car wash sprayer usually has a low pressure flow when the trigger isn't pulled. I use that flow to wash around bearings and the higher pressure flow to wash the frame on those rare times when I actually wash my bikes or I just use the hose from my faucet.
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Old 12-27-17, 10:44 AM
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Certainly I won't be washing my bike that often ..... I was given frame bag and other bits to go on it for Xmas and wanted to put some High Viz Tape strips on it and knew they'd take to a clean surface much better.

In the end I compared the cost per ltre of the Fairy Power Spray to Muc Off Bike Cleaner and the Muc Off worked out quite a bit cheaper so went out and got some along with some degreaser and just a cheaper wet lube for now.

Must admit it's done a cracking job although I think the sprayer that comes with it is designed to use an awful lot of the liquid so you go through it quickly, I'll pick up a cheap sprayer next time I'm in town with a finer spray as their's is a thin jet so you don't cover much of an area and have to keep pumping.

Virtually all of the videos I watched whilst the majority said about lubing the chain virtually none of them mentioned anything about the derailleur ... I'm guessing I just put oil on every bit of those that moves????
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Old 12-27-17, 12:16 PM
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I just use baby wipes, mostly. They clean pretty much everything, they're super cheap, and I always have them on hand anyway because of my son. My bike doesn't usually get very dirty though.

The only time it does get a bit messy is when I've gone out in the rain. I clean it as soon as I get home, while it's still wet, since it is easier. But again baby wipes and/or paper towels is all it usually needs.

For the drive train or stuck on dried greasy/whatever messes, I'll use White Lightning's Easy Clean degreaser, Dawn, Simple Green, etc...An old toothbrush & red shop rags, sometimes baby wipes again. And Tri-Flow lube when it's needed.
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Old 12-27-17, 12:31 PM
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I've used Simple Green ever since the LBS told me that's what they use. But realistically, I don't clean mine that often.
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Old 12-27-17, 12:39 PM
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Another Simple Green fan. I have a container full-strength for chains, and to apply to drive train parts, and a couple milder mixtures for general degreasing (and cleaning my hands after bike work) and for just washing the bike. It's cheap, it smells okay, it is safe to spill (as in both non-toxic and non-corrosive) and a gallon is under $10 I think ... and I still have half a gallon left a couple years later.
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Old 12-27-17, 01:35 PM
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whatever you do, don't use Walmart aerosol chain cleaner on/over grass. it will kill it
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Old 12-27-17, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The OCD is strong in this one

Honestly, I never wash my mountain bikes and seldom wash my road bikes. For mountain bikes, it doesn't matter if the bike looks showroom fresh at the trailhead because it's not going to look like that at the end of the ride. Having a bit of dirt (or a lot!) from a previous ride (or a ride from 10 years ago) isn't going to hurt the bike. It's a badge of honor.

Same with road bikes. I'm not selling a sponsor product so I can ride without caring what the fans think.

No, it won't hurt the bike, but it is a great way to spread invasive plants.

Many of our prime trails have bike wash stations, and encourage their use.
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Old 12-27-17, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
No, it won't hurt the bike, but it is a great way to spread invasive plants.

Many of our prime trails have bike wash stations, and encourage their use.
On the list of "things that spread invasive weeds" bicycles...the actual vehicle...rank at the bottom of the list. Animals...including humans...spread them far more than the equipment that they use. It's not like there are a lot of places for invasive plants to stick to a bicycle frame or parts. Motor vehicles are more likely to spread them than bicycles and even that is way down on the list.

Do your prime trails have showers for the humans and encourage their use? Dog washing stations? Horse washing stations? Seems like a wasted and, frankly, silly effort.
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Old 12-30-17, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
On the list of "things that spread invasive weeds" bicycles...the actual vehicle...rank at the bottom of the list. Animals...including humans...spread them far more than the equipment that they use. It's not like there are a lot of places for invasive plants to stick to a bicycle frame or parts. Motor vehicles are more likely to spread them than bicycles and even that is way down on the list.

Do your prime trails have showers for the humans and encourage their use? Dog washing stations? Horse washing stations? Seems like a wasted and, frankly, silly effort.
I'm sure many professionals dealing with invasive plants would disagree with you, I do

Actually, farmers and loggers have been required to wash their equipment for years. Most humans wash their clothes between trips, and few animals have ranges in the hundreds of miles.

Last edited by Doug64; 12-30-17 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 12-30-17, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The OCD is strong in this one
Hey, thanks.

Honestly, I never wash my mountain bikes and seldom wash my road bikes. For mountain bikes, it doesn't matter if the bike looks showroom fresh at the trailhead because it's not going to look like that at the end of the ride. Having a bit of dirt (or a lot!) from a previous ride (or a ride from 10 years ago) isn't going to hurt the bike. It's a badge of honor.

Same with road bikes. I'm not selling a sponsor product so I can ride without caring what the fans think.
Keeping your bike clean is the easiest and cheapest way to make it last longer and work better.
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Old 12-30-17, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I'm sure many professionals dealing with invasive plants would disagree with you, I do
Well .... the bike-washing stations are for removing dirt, not spores ... or they'd use something which killed spores.

Also, most of the plants that successfully invade use some kind of adhesion technique--barbs, spurs, rough hairs---which cling best to Clothing, not bikes.

Further, you are hypothesizing that these riders ride one day one place and entirely different and unrelated ecosystem the next right? because coming back to teh same trail system, even if it was 50-100 square miles, wouldn't spread anything the wind and wildlife hadn't already spread.

To spread "invasive' plants you'd have to cross some barrier the plants couldn't cross any other way ... and considering stuff floats across oceans, birds migrate thousands of miles, and the wind goes pretty much everywhere ....

You might work with invasive plant species, but that doesn't mean you are rational or even well-informed.

Most invasive plants are spread Deliberately by humans, thinking they are "improving" life somewhere, whether it be kudzu for cattle feed or whatever vegetables or grains people import which choke out native plants .... stuff like ships emptying bilges full invasive foreign aquatic plants .... trucks full of grain ....

Mountain bikes as a primary vector for the spread of invasive plants? Maybe if you picked up spores in the U.S. didn't wash your bike, and shipped it to Australia or something ... but again, as much stuff is carried in the treads of shoes or the cuffs of trousers .....

Bikes just aren't a big issue.

And mountain bikers, who tend not to travel across multiple continents each weekend .... aren't even generally going to go to different states each weekend .... I suppose some super-monster plant which could live for 100 years in the grease around a bottom bracket .... but such a spore or seed would find a thousand better vectors.

Yeah, long on passion, short on logic is my answer to that question.
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