ON A SHOESTRING SERIES: BIKE WASH AT HOME

Shaun George BOTS Guides, D.I.Y, E-commerce, Mechanics, Tips & Tricks

After a nice muddy/ rainy ride, you can expect your bike to be covered in quite a bit of muck. This will require some TLC at the earliest. Even if you’re not riding in wet or muddy conditions, your bike is going to need some ”looking into” ever so often. Depending on your riding conditions we’d recommend a good clean after every 7-15 rides. If you’re riding off-road then you’ll need to increase the frequency a little more.

We’d recommend watching the following video to get a better idea of how exactly you can go about washing your bike.

Credits – GCN TECH

Dedicated bike care accessories can often be on the more expensive side. Here at BUMSONTHESADDLE, we’re all about saving some extra cash for our next bike upgrades. So we’ve made a list of things you can use to get a cleaner bike without breaking the bank.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

  1. Clean microfiber cloths or old cotton T-shirts
  2. A bucket and a mug
  3. Car shampoo or any washing liquids (soap)
  4. Brushes or Toothbrush
  5. Sponges
  6. Chain lube

3 STEPS TO A CLEANER BIKE

Ideally, you’d want to have a bike wash stand of some sort. However, since most of us will be doing this from our homes, your backyard, terrace or bathroom should suffice. For those of you using your bathrooms remember that this is a messy affair and you’ll need to be careful to avoid staining the floors.

NOTE – Avoid high-pressure sprays of water. This water can get into bearings and seals over time.

STEP 1: DRIVETRAIN

First things first, take your wheels off the bike and then proceed. The reason we’re attacking the drivetrain first is that cleaning the drivetrain can cause some grease and dirt to land up on the frame – better to clean the frame once and for all.

Start by rinsing the drivetrain with some water from a mug. Then apply some cleaning liquid (liquid Pril) all over the drivetrain. If you have some bike-specific degreaser lying around then that would be ideal. Refrain from using petrol or kerosene as you’d wouldn’t want any of that stuff landing on your precious paint job. Let the degreaser/washing liquid settle on the drivetrain for around 3-4 minutes. This will break down the gunk and grease. You can now begin to agitate the cassette, jockey wheels, chainrings and the chain with a stiff-bristled brush. A toothbrush works here too – use the toothbrush to get into the tight spaces.

Again let this settle for and while and then splash some water over the drivetrain. Most of the gunk should have come off by now. If it hasn’t, repeat the process once more. Try and get the chain and cassette to look brand new. A nice shiny cassette and chain are very pleasing to look at. Don’t you think so?

STEP 2: FRAME

Start of spraying the entire frame with some water. Ensure that the frame is sufficiently wet – dry scrubbing the frame will leave behind scratches. After this, you can dip your sponge into the bucket of soapy water and begin scrubbing the dirt off the frame. Be gentle and use circular motions to get rid of the stubborn dirt. If you have rim brakes then scrub the brake pads to get any potentially rim-destroying crud off the pads.

STEPS 3: WHEELS

Again, start off by wetting the wheels with the soapy water. Using a sponge or soft brush here will give you the best results. Remember, your wheels bearings are a bit delicate so you want to avoid spraying water at/near the hub. Once you’ve let the wheel soak for a bit you can start picking at the grime. Start with the rim, spokes and then move on to the hubs and the rim braking surface (rim brake bikes). Spray on some water again and then let the wheels dry in a well-ventilated room.

After you’ve washed all the components thoroughly, you can start to reassemble the bike. Put the wheels back on and start wiping down the bike to completely dry it down. Now the most important post-wash step. Remember in Step 1 we had stripped the drivetrain of all the road gunk and grease? Well, most of the chain lube would’ve come off too. Essentially, your chain would now be dry and most susceptible to rust and wear & tear while riding. So after the drivetrain is nice, clean and dry, go ahead and apply some chain lube on the chain and be sure to get a drop of lube on every single link. After turning the crank a few times, take a dry rag and remove any excess chain lube.


That’s it. That’s how you take care of your bike on a shoestring budget. Most of the items recommended above you’ve already got at home. We’d recommend washing your bike at least 3-4 hours before a ride and not right before one. Washing and taking care of your bike on a shoestring budget isn’t all that hard. Probably the priciest item you “will” need is bicycle-specific chain lube. Remember, cleaning your bike is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functionally beneficial. Follow the bike washing schedule regularly and you’ll save a lot of money that would’ve otherwise been spent changing drivetrain parts or cables.

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