Despite the hail we saw (if only momentarily) this week, outdoor riding is almost here! But first, we need to get our bikes ready for the road. Part of this means getting rid of the sweat, dust, and spills that may have left our frames, drivetrains and headsets in need of a good scrub. The dry, heated air of riding indoors, mixed with fans blowing dust into cogsets etc., can wreak havoc on chains which can cause problems shifting. Debris can also accumulate in between brake pads. For a proper clean (pre-spring tune-up), follow the steps below, so your first outdoor ride delivers on its promise of a fun-filled escape.
Here a few everyday items needed for the task:
-Gloves (if you want to keep your hands clean). Any generic, disposable latex ones will work or rubber ones if you have them.
-Old race t-shirts or rags
-Scrub brush/ toothbrush/sponges (not abrasive ones as they risk ruining your frame)
-Hose (ideally with an adaptable head…but AVOID blasting your bearings)
-Dish soap (any will do such as Dawn or Dove)
1. If you don’t have a bike stand, hook the front of your saddle over a makeshift one. You can tie a rope between two trees, or a front porch railing could do the trick. Get creative. Remove wheels.
2. Fill a bucket with water and dish soap.
3. Begin by degreasing your chain. Rotate the pedal backwards to be sure you apply it to every link. Rinse with the hose. If needed, scrub remaining grease with a rag/ old race tee soaked in dish soap.
4. Drivetrain: Scrub chainrings with soapy water on your scrub brush/ toothbrush working all the nooks and crannies. Rinse well.
5. Wash the back wheel with a soft sponge starting with the cassette. You can also floss the cogs with a thin strip of rag or a shoelace. Then wash the entire wheel (both sides) and rinse.
6. Frame: using a soft rag soaked in dish soap, gently wash the frame being mindful of not over-scrubbing the paint job. Be sure to get in between the brake pads.
7. Front wheel: as with the back wheel, use a soft sponge soaked in dish soap and be sure to do both sides. Starting at the valve can help you measure a full rotation. Rinse.
8. Reattach wheels and rinse the bike. Let it dry or use soft, dry rags to remove excess water. Check that the drivetrain is smooth (can shift through the gears while manually turning the pedal).
9. Apply chain lube (appropriate for the conditions you’ll be riding in). Remove excess lube by holding the chain in a rag and rotating the pedal backwards.
10. Pump up your tires and your good to go!