Basic bike maintenance is not difficult. You can keep your bike clean in your garage, your back yard, or even your patio. Here is what you need and how to do it.
Basic bike maintenance isn’t difficult, but it’s not something that every bike shop teaches you either. For the most part, you can service your bicycle in your garage or, if you don’t have one, in your back yard. If you live in a condo or apartment, you may even be able to clean your bike on your patio! Here’s what you need and how to do it.
Note: if you are interested in cleaning your bike chain, check out this guide to easy care of your bike chain. It includes videos and step by step instructions to make it easy to keep your chain clean and lubed.
Basic Supplies to Care for Your Bike
You’ll need a number of household cleaners for bike maintenance. Most of these are pretty cheap and should be available at any grocery store. You’ll also need clean rags – lint-free works best. For brushes, use a couple of different sizes and shapes so that you can get into hard-to-reach areas to remove grime that rinsing won’t get. Old toothbrushes work great for nooks and crannies.
For soap, use something mild, like a diluted dishwashing soap or a good commercial brand of bike cleaner. Solvents are essential when you need to clean something that’s got a lot of grease on it, such as your bike chain. But try to avoid solvents that are harsh, like kerosene and turpentine. Personally I use WD products – they have recently released an entire range of excellent products to cover every aspect of keeping your bike clean and lubed.
When To Clean Your Bike
You should clean your bike when it’s dirty. When else would you clean it? But seriously, base your cleaning schedule on how often you use the bicycle. If you spend a lot of time riding in wet and muddy conditions, you may need to clean up more frequently.
Few people clean after every ride. It’s not necessary for bike maintenance. However, a frequent cleaning schedule of at least once a month or once a week will keep the dirt and debris at bay and make your bike easier to clean.
How To Clean Your Bike
There’s a lot more to actually cleaning the bike than just hosing it off with water – especially if your have a frame that’s prone to rusting (such as steel bikes). Also, high-pressure water can damage sensitive ball bearing systems throughout the bike.
Because of this, it’s best to use low pressure. In fact, take the nozzle off of your hose and just let the water run freely. It’s not going to provide much pressure, but that’s OK. Use a rag or a sponge to wipe your bike down with soap. Then, rinse it off. Use solvent on things like chains, but remember to re-grease them afterwards.
Sometimes, you don’t even need soap or water. A good wipe down, buffing, and lubrication will take most modern bikes a long way. Also, keeping the bike out of the elements will help to preserve the paint job and possibly reduce the need to clean it.
Storage of your bike is simple – store it indoors or in a garage. That will keep the rain, snow, and dust off of it for the most part. Some cyclists wax their bike to minimize dust and dirt accumulation.
Ronald Walker is an experienced biker. He enjoys writing about safety and equipment on sports blogs.
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