So, you have spent your money on a new bike, gone out and enjoyed it, now it is time to find out how to clean a mountain bike. Although this may seem like an easy task, the idea of this article is so that you can clean it quickly and efficiently without damaging it. Many people think that it is just a quick and easy task of pressure washing the bike and off you go. Although it is not an overly complicated task, it is still a little bit more involved than just a blast of high-pressure water.
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How To Clean A Mountain Bike
The absolute first thing that you need to do is to get your bike dirty. Far too many people wash their bikes every week, whether they use it or not, or if they only use it on the road. Doing that will eventually cause more harm than good according to BikingBro. Soaps are designed to bond grease and dirt to water for easy removal. That is great when there are unwanted greases on the bike, but unfortunately, detergents do not know the difference between good grease and bad.
The same goes for high-pressure water. It will take off anything in its path, grease, paint, and dirt alike. Therefore, go and get it dirty before you come back to this article to see what to do next.
Find Somewhere To Clean Your Bike
Again, this may seem like an easy task. And for some people it is, take it into your yard and get on with it. But for others, it is a little bit more complicated. If you live in an apartment block, it is not going to be so easy.
Most trails that you come across built for mountain biking have started putting bike washes in the local vicinity so that you can wash it before you leave. If your trails do, then that’s great. If not, then your local bike shop may have the equipment that you need or a car wash with a pay per use pressure washer.
Gather Cleaning Supplies
Of course, you will have needed to get some supplies before you get to the wash, but here is a list of pretty cheap things that you can use to get your dirty bike clean again:
- Cleaning soap
- Grease for after
Although there are a lot of specialized cleaning equipment available, you do not have to buy those if you do not have the money. Some of them are better than the cheap ones, but, if you do not have them, get yourself some cheap soap, or just use water.
Get It Wet
Now, the first thing that I have to say is DO NOT USE HIGH-PRESSURE WATER. Yes, I know I said that you could go to a car wash, and you can if you have no other options. However, if you have to, make sure that you stand far enough away from the bike that it is more of a mist by the time the water gets to it.
The reason for that is because the best case is that you might take some paint or decals off your bike. Worst case is that you start pushing grit and dirt into the beatings, thus ruining them very quickly. Not to mention that if you use high-pressure water on moving parts, even if they are clean, you will remove all of the grease.
After you have got the bike wet, without removing paint, decals, or grease, you can move onto the next step.
Give It A Scrub
Get your brushes out and start to scrub. Use a relatively broad brush for the frame and wheel spokes. Try not to use anything with tough bristles for the frame; you don’t want to take the paint off any more than you already have by throwing it down the trails. Don’t forget to use soap if you have got some.
Use smaller brushes with stiffer bristles to get into the hard to reach areas, and keep a separate brush for your components such as the derailleur, chain, and cassette. If you have a power link in your chain, feel free to take it off and soak it in mineral spirits while you continue the next steps. Try not to do this too often, though, as you do not need to.
Again, I would suggest that you use a pretty stiff brush for tires if you want to do them at all. Remember, a mountain bike is not a showpiece. The first thing to get dirty is going to be the tires as soon as you put it down.
Ensure that you get into all of the hard to reach places. If you are only doing a quick wash, then take more care of the mechanical parts than the frame. A bit of dirt on the frame is not going to hurt.
Rinse The Soap Off
An essential part of how to clean a mountain bike is getting the soap off after you have washed it. Soap can deteriorate your paintwork if you leave it on too often and for too long. It will also dry in the chain, cassette, and derailleur and become sticky, and make the grease less effective.
Dry The Bike
Ensure that you dry your bike off properly. If you have time, get some rags and make sure that you dry it as well as you can. If you do not have a lot of time, then focus on the mechanical parts of the bike, the chain, brakes, etc… The frame can be left wet, but you do not want to get rust on your moving parts.
A trick that I have learned is to shake the bike about a little bit to get the remaining water out of the nuts and bolts, or to use compressed air to dry it off. If you do not dry them properly, you will have a build-up of rust.
Do not forget your chain. It is probably about now that you can take it out of the mineral spirits, scrub it with soap, rinse it and dry it.
After you have dried the bike as well as you can, it is time to lube it up. I recommend a dry lube on a lot of the components, as it is a lot less sticky, which means that you are a lot less likely to get grit stick to it in the first place. After you have let the lube soak into the components, remember to remove the excess with a rag.
Getting your mountain bike dirty is the fun bit. However, you still have to clean a mountain bike sometimes to keep it as good as new. However, do not try to wash your bike every single week. Skip the tires and frame if you want to do a quick wash, but make sure that you get all of the grit and water out of the mechanical parts each time they get dirty.