Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fast and Easy Winter Bike Maintenance

Here it is January 7, 2012 and we're in a massive snow drought. I use the word massive because it adds drama to our lack of ability to enjoy 'winter activities' that I would love to be doing right now...skiing, ice climbing, snowshoeing, you get my point, but with all this amazing weather, what are we cyclists to do? Ride! If that's what you said, then you got the answer right. 

I wanted to write up a quick post about 15 minute bike maintenance and how to wash off the salt and road grunge that can build up on your bike this time of year. It's really quite simple and though I may have been a little fussy and exceeded the 15 minute time limit, you can really get it done in that amount of time.

Here's what you need-

1. A bucket of hot water, no soap.
2. An old crusty water bottle.
3. Chain lube
4. Three rags- one goes in the bucket of hot water, one greasy rag used to wipe off chain lube, the other used to wipe the bike clean and dry.
5. If you go over the 15 min time limit, you'll also want to have some de-greaser and frame polish.
6. One dirty bike.

 Basic tools for the job.

One dirty bike.

It's really easy to start, you don't need a repair stand as pictured above, leaning the bike against some object that still allows the pedals to rotate backwards works great. I put the chain in the large chain ring, small cog so it spins easily during the process. So fill your crusty water bottle and spray away!

I suggest spraying the whole frame, wheels, tires, drive train and anything else that may have got salt or other grime on while you were enjoying your sweet winter bike ride. I feel the hot water is great to really clean off the gunk and salt, especially if your bike is cold, maybe it's just psychological, but what ever works for you. After you've sprayed most of the salt off, I take the rag from the bucket and give a good wipe down of the whole bike, wheels, spokes, frame, chain and derailleurs and other frame parts. Soak the rag in the bucket as needed and scrub all the salt that wasn't removed from just spraying water over your bike.

When you're done this, use your nice dry rag (I like to pamper my ride with a nice soft, cut up, old towel) and give the bike a good wipe down, wiping dry all the same parts you just washed off.

Giving a nice wipe down and special attention to detail.

The last thing I do is grab the greasy rag from my cleaning kit and wipe the chain down real good to soak up some of the water. Then I apply chain lube to the chain. Again, I'm pretty fussy so I put a drop of lube at each roller pin and bushing. You really don't need an excess amount of lube all over the chain and link plates, just enough to keep the moving bits lubed and happy.

Now that your bike is clean, dry, and chain well lubed, you'll be ready to ride on the next time, no rusted chain or ruined components from the salt and winter road grime.
 That is one brilliantly clean bike!

What I did in my extra fifteen or twenty minutes. 
Lubed all the spoke nipples at the rim with chain lube, cleaned and wiped down both wheels and hubs, used de-greaser to clean my derailleur pulleys taking off all the built up crud, pulled both wheels off the bike to give a little frame and fork inspection and polish. As well as, just a general close eye over every part of the bike, so I'm confident it's absolutely clean and ready to roll.
Bike repair isn't rocket science by any means, but if you're not into cleaning your bike, bring it down to our shop and we'll give it all the love it deserves.

Thanks for reading,