Have you ever been caught out in the rain halfway through a mountain bike trail ride? Chances are you had the ride of your life, drifting through corners and sliding and skittering through rock gardens. It's a feeling you can't describe when you're really on your game - riding faster in the wet than you can in the dry...
Immediately after the ride
But once the fun is over, it's important to look after your bike for next time. As well as the usual cleaning process, it helps to take action immediately after a muddy ride. A quick hose down will remove most of the mud and dirt while it's still wet, making your proper washing much easier. Here's a quick guide for your next muddy ride; making the cleaning easier and the next ride just as fun!
- As soon as you finish riding find some water and wash your shoes off. Get as much dirt out of the velcro as possible.
- Use your drink bottle to squirt major clumps of mud off the bike, especially out from the forks and gears as well as the front derailleur.
- If there's a hose, spray the whole bike down as best you can. If no hose, then use your bottle. Get it as clean as possible.
When you get home
The main concern you should have when cleaning your bike is the care of your drivetrain. When riding in dirt and mud the chain lubricant you use gets broken down through abrasion and dilution with water and grit. This renders it useless, and removes it from your chain more effectively than you ever will! It's important to clean and LUBRICATE your chain that very same day for best results.
So you've managed to hose the bike down, rendering it mostly clean... But it's time to get your muddy rear home for a proper wash (both for you, and the bike. Separately of course).
For a good bike wash, you will need the following gear:
- Bike Wash Spray
- Bike Degreaser*
- Chain Cleaner Unit
- Bike Brush Set
- Warm Bucket of Water + Soap
- Chain Lubricant
- Old Rag
NOTE: As an environmentally responsible company, BikeRoar encourages you to use citrus-based cleaners because they are better for the environment than petroleum-based degreasers.
- Firstly, spray the drivetrain with degreaser. Then fill the chain cleaner unit with degreaser and use accordingly. Do not hose the bike yet, as this dilutes the chain cleaner, which is still working away at the grime.
- Spray bike with your bike cleaner, and ensure you get into those hidden spots. This spray loosens dirt extremely well, so when you take the next step, you don't scratch your bike with dirt.
- Hose entire bike down, and use a moderate pressure on the chain itself to ensure you get all the dirt out.
- Wash bike down by hand, with soapy water and a cloth. Dish soap is okay, although it can contribute to corrosion on alloy parts due to the high salt content of some dish soaps. Get in everywhere, and use plenty of the soapy water.
- Again hose the entire bike down, focusing more on the frame than the drivetrain this time. Make sure you clean the hidden nooks and crannies, such as under your saddle and within the handlebar area.
- Wipe drivetrain dry with an old rag, and allow to dry for a further 10-20 minutes.
- Apply chain lubricant as per instructions, or around 10-15 rotations of the drivetrain (pedal the bike backwards). Do not wipe off! Let it soak within the chain links, where it really matters.
TIP: Use the soapy water to wash your shoes off - with this everything is ready to go for next time.
This whole process can take as little as 10 minutes if you're organized. Do it before you shower, so you don't mind getting dirty again.
WHY WASH MY BIKE?
It seems silly to wash your bike if it's going to get dirty again, but it's a known fact that washing your bike regularly will prolong the life of your drivetrain as well as all other parts. The other benefit of washing your bike regularly is that you become in tune with what needs maintenance in the future. You'd be surprised what you uncover during a wash... From broken spokes through to worn brake pads. These are things you may only notice by being in such close proximity.
Take pride in your ride, and it will serve you well.