Wednesday, April 2

Spring Cleaning: Cleaning Your Bike (3/5)

Man, my bike is filthy. I mean, it's really gross. I can't touch it without getting covered in grime. It has a layer of filth to it that would make Ron Jeremy envious. Well, today is supposed to be somewhat nice out, so it's a good opportunity to clean up the bike outside. I'll do this with the same format as yesterday: Slideshow and walkthrough.

  1. First, get what you're going to need:
    • sponge
    • couple of rags
    • scrubbie
    • roommate's toothbrush
    • bucket of warm soapy water
    • maybe a garden hose, if you have one handy
    • rubber gloves help a lot.
    You can also get a bicycle cleaning kit that has a sponge and a bucket and various brushes for reaching the hard-to-reach parts of the bike. If you want your bike to look super, go for it. You can also get various bike-specific cleaning chemicals, like Pedro's Orange Peelz, or Bio-Cleaner. You really should, but you don't have to if you're just like, whatever.

  2. Sponge, Warm Soapy Water, bike.. you get the idea. Wash it down, make sure you run through all the weird places that you don't notice if the bike is upside-down. Make sure you rinse the bike off with a hose or toss a bucket of water on it--you don't want the soap to dry on. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

  3. Use the toothbrush or some kind of small scrubbie brush to get inside the front and rear dérailleurs; wash all that gunk out. Blasting it with a pressure hose would probably work, too. If you're super-dedicated, take it off and run it through the dishwasher. Just make sure to get the ring of gunk off of the little rollers in the rear dérailleur. Dirt in the dérailleurs (or any moving bike parts) disrupts their functioning, and slowly grinds them as they move, causing them to break or wear out prematurely. Keep that in mind.

  4. Alright--on to the wheels. Sponge down the spokes, and the tires too. They are going to get dirty like immediately but whatever. They will look amazing for the next 15 minutes, and you won't get any tire-soot on you for the next step.

  5. Take the scrubbie and some soapy water and really scrub the heck out of the rim; get all those black streaks out. This is time consuming but satisfying because it makes a big difference visually. That stuff is rubber from your brake pads, by the way. I think scrubbing it off makes your brakes work better but that's just what I heard.

  6. Now, use soapy water or degreaser or, better yet, bio-cleaner (see picture above) on the back wheel's cogs. Now scrub between the cogs and get out all that grease, grime, grit, and gangrenous gunk gumming up the gears. I'm using a brush made specifically for that purpose, and it seems to work really well. The bio-cleaner works pretty well, too. It has a green label and says "BIO" in big letters so I am forced to assume it's good for the environment.

  7. Spray the wheels down with the hose or toss another bucket of clear water on it, whatever. Wipe the bike and wheels down with a clean, dry rag. Now take a step back and look at what you've done. Looks better, huh?

  8. Don't forget to clean up your clean-up too. Make sure you wash your tools and gloves and whatever else you used up, so they are ready to go next time.
Well, that was pretty painless. Now I've got a bike with full, healthy tires, and a nice clean frame and wheels. But maybe it's a little, you know, too clean. Tomorrow: Fixing squeaks, brakes, and shifting.

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