Friday, February 20, 2009

Bike cleaning 101

“A clean bike is a fast bike.”
Paul Terranova

I can’t stress enough the effects a clean bike has on performance. If your bike is dirty and gunky then it’s more likely to perform poorly than it would if it were clean.

When to clean your bike: Really you should do some sort of cleaning to your bike after every ride. Sometimes a simple wipe down will do when other times require more detailed work. A simple wipe down can be done after a spin class where Chrissie has just killed you and there is sweat all over your bike. Especially the front end (brake caliper, fork and stem). A more detailed cleaning needs to be done after a wet ride. Even if you just went through a puddle of water you should clean your entire bike.

Where to clean your bike: The garage is always a great place to start. Sometimes we don’t have the garage option so find a place that you don’t mind getting a little dirty…. porch, driveway, patio or bathroom. That’s right, I said bathroom. I have used the b-room more than once to clean my bike. I just stuck my bike in the bath tub and used the moveable shower head to get it sparkly clean.

Why: Explained above. Plus it could save you some costly repairs down the road.

Who: That who is you!!!! Why you? Simple, because the more times you clean your bike the more familiar you are with how it works. After cleaning your bike a few times you’ll realize things you didn’t know before and if something goes wrong on a ride you have a better chance of figuring it out with the basic knowledge you have of your bike. Seriously… I learn something new each weekend when I clean people’s bikes. It’s interesting and it’s saved my butt more than once on the road.

How: How I do it is I start with the front wheel and work backwards. I clean the front wheel and inspect the tire and make sure there is no wobble to the wheel. I then move onto the fork and front brake caliper. Next would be the front stem and handle bar set I have. Using a q-tip to get into the hard to reach places. Moving along, I head to the top tube, seat/ seat post and down tube. Next, I’ll remove and clean the rear tire. While I have it off I’ll clean the rear brake caliper and inspect the tire/wheel. Now comes the fun part… the derailleur. The easiest way to clean this is to just spray the entire thing down with Simple Green and then do your best to clean off all the dirt, grease and dead animals. Put your tires back on and clean the pedals and chain. The chain can be cleaned with Simple Green and using some elbow grease you can make your chain last a lot longer. Once you are done with that lube your chain and take your bike for a short spin running it through all the gears making sure that it’s still all in sync.

This should take you a little less than 1 hour. You’ll need some rags, Simple Green or another cleaner and some chain lube. A good rule of thumb is to clean and lube your chain every 4 rides or every 150 miles.
Coach Logan

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