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Illustration by Douglas Scott
The more often you clean your bike, the easier and quicker the job will be. Every week or two, clean the chain, gears, cranks and wheel rims to remove built-up grease and grime. After riding in extreme weather conditions, clean salt or sand off your fenders and wipe down the frame. Keep up your weekly maintenance and you won’t need to do an overhaul. If you don’t get around to cleaning, a professional tune-up runs from $40–150.
Rags and a toothbrush
- Q-tips for hard-to-reach areas
- Chain scrubber – a cleaning tool that you fill with cleaning solution and slip over the chain (available at most bike shops and some hardware stores for $10–25)
- Spare chain – clean and soak the resting chain in oil
- Solvent, such as Simple Green, water and soap or isopropyl alcohol
- An all-weather lubricant, such as Purple Extreme Synthetic Lubricant (purpleextreme.com)
Caring for Your Winter Ride
Always clean your chain before greasing it. Scrub a solvent over your chain with a cleaning tool or toothbrush or soak the whole chain in solvent. Use Q-tips to remove stubborn clumps of grease and to get dirt and grime out of corners and holes. Drop lubricant onto each link of your chain, or run a line by spinning the chain as you pour out the oil. Use a toothbrush or cleaning tool to get the lubricant into each link and rub into areas showing signs of rust. Wipe away excess oil with a rag while spinning the chain.
After each ride out in snowy, salty conditions, wipe down your bike, making sure to get slush and snow off your rims, spokes, chainrings, cogset, chain, brake cables, cranks and frame to prevent rusting.
You wouldn’t put dirty pots back in the cupboard. You wouldn’t put grimy cycling shorts back in your drawer. Store your bike clean!
Special thanks to Justin Bailey of Performance Bikes in Victoria, BC.
Check YouTube for lots of DIY videos on cleaning and maintenance.