Thursday, May 31, 2012

How To - Cleaning The Bike Quick

All too often I see riders that excuse their dirty bikes by saying that it takes too long to clean their bike. At the same time they're logging a gazillion hours in training and carefully accounting for all their calories and such.

Today, with a few minutes to spare between chores, I set out to clean my bike quickly. I did a prior post on cleaning the bike overall, but it may have been a bit intimidating. This one is more real.

I started by leaning the rear tire on the garage door trim (i.e. the side of the opening when the garage door is open). By leaning the bike against the rear tire it prevents the bike from rolling. It's hard to see but my driveway is actually sloped down under the bike, i.e. the front tire is lower than the rear. The friction of the tire against the garage door trim is enough not only to hold the bike up but also to keep it from following all the water downhill.

Dirty drivetrain. 12:59 PM.

My bike was on the roof when it rained last night. With Junior's gear in the car my bike has been relegated to the roof rack for race trips. With the dinner-time shower and the drive home after, the bike got dirty and wet.

 1:05 PM.

The first round of Simple Green spritzed on, scrubbed with the Grunge Brush as well as a Pedros brush. Note the gray bubbles - it's dirty Simple Green. That's my dirty hand - I didn't clean with my regular gusto because I wanted to keep my left hand clean so I could pick up the phone.

1:07 PM

 I rinsed with two bottles of water. I brought 6 bottles to the race last night thinking it'd be warm. I used the six to clean my bike - two bottles here. Expo team bottles, so sue me :)

 1:08 PM (blurry)

Since I wasn't in a hurry I did a second round of Simple Green. It looks much cleaner doesn't it?

1:10 PM

The second round rinsed. I used all four bottles I had left, mainly because Simple Green shouldn't sit on metal too long. I probably used 2 bottles to rinse what already looked clean. Note that the chainring teeth looks silver now, not black like they did before.

Detail of drivetrain.

It took me 11 minutes of non-skilled labor to clean my drivetrain. I had no hose, no stand, no nothing. Just a spray bottle of Simple Green, two gear brushes (Grunge Brush and a Pedros brush), and six waterbottles of water.

After the second rinse I used one of about a half dozen chain lubes I have. I chose the one I used because it was the first one I could see, it smells good, and it has some eco-something on it. It's also an oil based lube so it lasts a while. The bike will be going indoors for a while so I want protection (oil) over cleanliness (wax based or dry lubes).

I made sure that I dripped some lube into the pulleys. When some early American team did a stage race in Europe, they had the misfortune of having a less-than-experienced mechanic. He carefully cleaned all the bikes daily but neglected to lube the pulleys after a wet race day. The next day you could easily find the American team's riders - just follow the squeaks. Apparently the Euro dogs gave the boys a lot of flak over this oversight.

Don't give a Euro dog a chance to cut you down. Lube your pulleys.

After I lube everything I turn the cranks backwards to make sure that there isn't a whole lot of friction. Try it before you clean the drivetrain, after you clean it (but before lubing), after lubing just the chain, and then finally after lubing the pulleys. You'll notice an incremental improvement at each step.

I quickly spritzed some Mother's detail spray onto a rag and wiped down the rest of the bike (not the rims!). The bugs, sand, and pollen all went away, replaced with a nice Mother's scent.

My reward? A smoother drive train. Less friction. Less wear. And a professional look.

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