Cleaning a bike regularly is essential, whether you use it for your daily commute to work or for hitting the bike trails on weekends. Bikes can get dirty with mud very quickly, and the dirt and debris build-up can affect the bike's performance over time.
How often should I clean my bike?
The frequency will depend on where and how often you use your bike. Weekly bike maintenance is required for off-road biking, whereas road bike maintenance is needed less frequently. However, it's worth spending a few seconds wiping your drivetrain down with a clean rag after every ride to minimise any dirt build-up.
How to clean a bike
It's good to get into a habit of cleaning the bike thoroughly. When it's time to clean the bike, a bike cleaning stand makes the chore a lot easier, allowing you to access hard-to-reach areas easily. Once your dirty bike is in the stand, start with bike chain cleaning by using a degreaser on the chain links. Spray PlusGas onto the chain, cassette, chainrings and derailleur. To ensure you help break down grease, dirt and grime in intricate areas, scrub the chain whilst turning one of the crank arms anticlockwise and rinse with water. If your bike chain is heavily soiled with mud, then it may be necessary to use a bike chain cleaner spray or fluid first before using a degreaser. Some people prefer a chain cleaner device in addition to a bike brush, but this is down to personal preference.
Next, clean your drivetrain components, which enable your bike to move more efficiently. The best way to clean a bike cassette is to dip a toothbrush into a bucket of soapy water and then scrub the cassette, derailleur and chainrings to get into all the crevices and then rinse with water.
When cleaning your bike frame, use a fresh bucket of soapy water and a soft sponge to clean from front to back and then rinse. Ensure you don't use an abrasive sponge or brush to avoid scratching your frame. However, you can use an abrasive side of a sponge for cleaning calliper brakes.
Finally, use a large soft brush and soapy water to clean your wheels' tires, hubs and rims. Start at the valve and work your way around one side before repeating on the other side. It's a good idea to avoid using a pressure washer at close range for cleaning as it can damage your bearings. After rinsing your wheels, use a clean cloth to wipe down all the components.
Once your bike is clean and dry, check that the drivetrain runs smoothly by rotating the crank arm clockwise. It's essential to keep the chain moving smoothly and avoid rust and squealing sounds if it is too dry. It will also make it much harder for you to pedal your bike, so this is an essential part of your bike to maintain. If you notice any chain linkages are seized or appear to be starting to seize, use PlusGas on the affected areas and wipe access fluid with a rag. Check that the linkages are moving freely and the chain moves freely before moving onto the final stages.
If your gears need adjusting, then this is an excellent time to make any tweaks to the front and rear derailleur. To keep the chain and pivot points in top condition, spray wet or dry lube onto the chain and cassette whilst turning the crank arm in an anticlockwise direction. Wipe away any access lubricant with a rag. Finally, check and lubricate your brake and shift cables to ensure the cables can move freely.
PlusGas also acts as a water displacement spray to prevent rust and corrosion, especially if the bike chain hasn't moved in a while. Displacing water moisture will help your bike last longer and avoid the need to clean rust off the bike. Spraying with PlusGas is also crucial to your bike cleaning ritual before any long-term storage over winter.
When using PlusGas penetrating spray, follow any health and safety advice and use a clean cloth to wipe off any residue. Be careful not to spray too much as it can make surfaces slippery and attract more dirt. If you store your bike in a humid environment, such as a garage, use a bike bag to protect it from rust and stop collecting dirt and dust.
Knowing how to look after your bike and keeping your bike chain cleaner is a great habit and will keep it in top condition. However, remember to replace your chain approximately every 2,000 miles. It's more cost-effective to replace your chain than leaving it and shortening the lifespan of your drivetrain components. Replacing a more expensive cassette will cost you more in the long run.