Spring clean your bike: A checklist


Don’t just shake out your carpets and wash the floors – spring cleaning also means it’s time to take a closer look at your bike. The winter can be grueling on the frame and wheels, and spring showers on the forecast means that¬†any built-up muck and grime will only multiply.

Get your bike ready for spring with this checklist.

1. Wash right
First things first – it’s time to get rid of any dirt and other debris that’s caked onto your bike. Mud, ice salt, oil slick residue – you don’t even want to know what’s in that gray crust. Be careful if you’re¬†using a hose, advised PedalShift, since water can get into the wheel bearings and cause them to rust. A better wash method is to use a damp cloth on the frame, brakes and gears, according to Safe Bee.

“It’s important to wipe down the whole bike with a damp cloth, and clean your brakes and drive train using a degreaser like Simple Green,” said Levi Bloom, a USA Cycling-certified coach, in an interview with the site.

This is also a good time to clean all add-ons. Wipe down your¬ Ortlieb Recumbent pannier and other bags, along with kickstands, bells and lights.

Don’t just spring clean your house – get your bike in top shape for the season ahead.

2. Get real about rims
Rims are barely noticeable, but they have a large impact on your performance and how long your bike lasts. As BikeRoar explained, dirty rims can drag and create friction, disrupting your ride. However, it’s not just an annoyance in the moment that you have to worry about. Every¬†time you brake with grimy rims, the pressure wears away at the walls of the rim.¬†Of course you don’t want your bike to collapse and ruin your ride, so keep those rims clean.¬†Community Cycling Center recommended wiping rims down with a rag and basic cleaner, noting that a toothbrush can work particularly well to get into the grooves. After cleaning the rims, wipe them with rubbing alcohol, which will get rid of any residue.

3. Clean the drivetrain
You’ve got to keep your chain in top shape for the best riding experience. If you let soot and sediment build up on the drivetrain, it can gradually degrade the chain, according to BikeRadar. A chain cleaner will easily get rid of grime without expending a whole lot of elbow grease, but the site also recommended cleaning the jockey wheels with a rag and brush and “flossing” your rear sprockets. BikeRadar has a great tutorial here that breaks down the deep-cleaning process for the drivetrain.

“Sediment buildup on the drivetrain can degrade the chain.”

4. Clean the nooks and crannies
The frame, wheels and chain are the major components of your bike, but don’t forget to clean its less-obvious parts, too. Park Tool recommended using a tapered brush to clean the derailleur, the bottom bracket and the underside of the saddle. No tapered brush on hand? Try a toothbrush.

5. Lubricate correctly
After you thoroughly clean your bike, you need to remember to lube everything back up. Even though it’s tempting to cut corners and save costs, Bike Maine emphasized that only bicycle-specific lube should be used, since lube made for cars can harm fragile bike parts. Start by wiping the chain with a rag and then applying a little lube while turning the crank, being careful not to use too much lube, which will cause the dirt to stick. Next, move on to the derailleur and then the cables and brake pivots, and finish by lubing the shifters. Be sure to clear off any extra lube that may have accumulated. It’s¬†important to use just the bare minimum, and avoid getting lube on braking surfaces, Bike Maine noted.

About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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