Wash and Lube Your Bike Like a Pro

A clean bike is a happy and efficient bike. Keeping your bike clean will not only help it ride better but will also make it last longer. You can lose as much as 10% of your power due to a dirty and rusty chain. Your clean chain, cassette, and chain rings will wear longer, and you will enjoy cleaner, crisper shifting. Follow these easy steps for keeping your bike clean and sparkly. Before you get started you will need to get together a couple of things. You will need:

  • A basic foaming or non-foaming degreaser such as Simple Green, Pedro’s Oranj Peelz, or Pedro’s Bio Degreaser. Or… my secret weapon, Foaming or Gel Engine Degreaser.
  • An assortment of brushes, rags, or sponges, and a wash bucket.
  • A good quality dishwashing liquid such as Dawn.

To begin your pro quality bike wash, find an appropriate spot that will provide good drainage and enough room to work. Set up your bike work stand, if you have one, and mount your bike with the drive side facing out. The bike washing process is much easier with a work stand that elevates the bike and holds it still for easy access to all its areas. If you do not have a work stand you can lean your bike against a solid object or hang it with the front of the saddle’s nose. Be sure to leave enough clearance to freely spin the pedals. Now you are ready to wash:

  • First, spray all the drive train components with degreaser. Be sure to soak the chain, chain rings, cassette, and derailleurs. Do not spray the bike with water before this step, as it will dilute the degreaser and it will not be as effective.
  • Let the degreaser soak for a few minutes and then scrub the drive train components with a stiff bristled brush. It is helpful to spin the pedals backwards while cleaning the chain and cassette.
  • Completely rinse the degreaser with mild pressure from the hose and repeat this step if necessary. Try to avoid streams of direct pressure from the hose to the bottom bracket, hubs, and headset.
  • Mix a generous mixture of dishwashing liquid and water in the bucket. Scrub the bike with a thick, soft-bristled brush including the frame, wheels and remaining areas. Try to avoid excessive scrubbing or soaking handlebar tape. The tape tends to hold moisture and loosen over time.
  • Thoroughly rinse the bike with light misting pressure from the hose. Again, avoid streams of direct pressure from the hose at the bottom bracket hubs and headset.
    You can dry your bike with a towel or use the energy of the sun.

Chain Lubrication

Once your bike is clean and dry, it is necessary to lubricate the chain. There are two types of chain lubes available; wet and dry lubes. For most applications a wet lube will provide good lubrication and help keep the drive train clean; Prolink Pro-Gold and Triflow are good quality lubricants which are specifically designed for bicycle chains, and will perform well in most cycling conditions. Lubrication can be done in a few easy steps.

  • Begin by shifting the bike into the middle of the cassette and middle (triple) or small (double) chain ring.
  • Hold the drip or spray nozzle above the chain near the cassette and coat the chain with lubricant as you spin the pedals backwards. Be sure to saturate the chain completely as this will ensure that you are lubricating the moving parts of the chain.
  • Remove excess lubricant by wiping the chain with a clean rag. It is best to remove all visible excess lubricant to avoid attracting dirt and debris.