Get your bike dirty…and take care of it

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Keeping your bike clean is part of being a cyclist. Time spent taking care of your equipment will help prevent wear and tear and keep it functioning longer. You’ll spend less time in the shop and more time in the saddle!

Routine maintenance should be something you do to your bike year-round, but the winter can be especially hard on your bike. Road grime and dirt can quickly ruin your drive train and could result in costly repairs.

For this week’s Weekly Wisdom, here are few tips on how to clean your bike and keep you out of the repair shop.

1. Get your bike dirty.
Go ahead, get outside. Ditch your trainer for another day. Enjoy the wind in your face and soak up that feeling of freedom because when you get home, you have work to do!

2. Now clean it.
Finish your ride and find a big bucket, filling it with warm water and soap. I’ve found Dawn dish washing soap works the best for taking off grease and grime and prevents streaks. Use an old sponge – perhaps that old one in the kitchen that should be thrown out? And while you’re at it, find that old toothbrush you’ve been meaning to throw out.

3. Take your bike outside and hose it down.
Use enough water and pressure to get the big chunks off. Keep that hose out – you’ll need it again soon.

4. Use degreaser on your chain.
This will cut through the grit and grime quickly. Make sure you’re in a well ventilated area if not outside. Hose off the degreaser. Once it’s done, it’s magic.

5. Start soaping up your steed. She earned it.
I usually start with the bike first and then move onto the wheels. Once you’ve cleaned the wheels, go ahead and remove them from the frame so you can go those hard to reach spots. Clean back behind your brakes, on the underside of the down tube, crank arms, pedals, any where you see dirt and places where you don’t. Clean between the spokes and the spokes themselves on your wheels and make sure to get the rims nice and clean. Use a toothbrush to clean between the sprockets of the cassette from all angles.

6. Hose your bike down. Again.
Look closely. You’re almost done. Make sure you haven’t missed anything.

7. Wipe dry.
If you got everything, use a clean rag to wipe down the frame first and then the wheels, saving the chain for last. Then run the chain forwards and backwards through the cloth, wiping off any extra grease/grim and water.

8.  Put your wheels back on and then grease your chain.
Make sure to grease your chain before you put your bike away. Failing to do so could result in a rusty chain.

Bonus tip: Keep track of the miles you put on your bike. Every 2000 miles, change your bike’s cables/housing and chain. Be sure to keep tabs on your tires, as winter riding can ruin tires more quickly. Rotate and/or replace tires as needed to avoid needing a mid ride car pick-up to get home.

Remember: a clean bike is a fast bike!

Got questions for Jennifer or the rest of the ALP Cycles team? Post your question in the comments below or send it to us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askalp.


ALP Cycles Coaching alpcycleslogo - edited is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.

Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Road racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.

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