The most effective way of keeping your bike running correctly and safely all year long, is to keep it clean. Dirty components will wear out more quickly, so keeping everything shiny will extend the life span of your bike and its parts.
Of course, there’s a huge array of bike cleaning products on the market, and it can be overwhelming when you’re not sure what you need. To make things as simple as possible, we’ve provided a guide on all the things you need to give your grubby bike a new lease of life, along with a list of our recommended products.
Bike cleaning spray
First off, wet the bike and then apply a cleaning spray. This will be a diluted cleaning solution that can cut through mud and grime without harming the more delicate parts of your bike. Spray it all over the bike and leave for a few minutes, so it can work its magic. When you’re ready, rinse or wipe it off. Most dirt should lift off with one treatment, though you may want to employ some extra tools for stubborn grime.
Bucket, hosepipe and sponge
It’s very simple, but very effective. Once your bike is covered in cleaning spray, you’re going to need some water to wash it off with, whether you opt for the latest and greatest pressure washer, or a good old-fashioned sponge and bucket.
Soak the bike well, and try to loosen any dirt that’s stuck in place. Give it a good cleaning all over, and then refill the bucket with fresh water and go in for a second round. This will help get rid of any leftover residue from your cleaning products.
Brushes can be really useful for removing the extra-stubborn mud that just won’t budge. They come in a variety of bristle strengths, from soft to stiff, and each has its own job to do. For this reason it’s better to buy a complete kit, ideally one that contains brushes of varying shapes and bristle texture.
Unfortunately soap and water can only do so much. For the oily parts of your bike, you’ll need a good degreaser to break down grease and grime from your drivetrain and cassette. This is especially important because these are the most wearable parts of the bike, which can cost a fair amount to replace in one go. The presence of dirt in the drivetrain can accelerate the wearing down of the transmission, as well as reduce efficiency and impact your shifting performance.
Finally, when your bike is glistening like new, it’s time to add some protective polish, ideally one that contains a moisture dispersant and PTFE (which is like Teflon). This will work to repel water from the bike, which prevents rust and corrosion, as well as giving it a shiny finish. That shine isn’t just about making the bike look good, it keeps it cleaner for longer, because dirt has a hard time sticking to the PTFE (just like a non-stick Teflon frying pan).
As a final note, it’s best to remove your wheels before you apply the polish, and be careful when spraying around brakes. The last thing you want is to contaminate your brake pads and make the bike unsafe.
Nano Technology penetrates deep into dirt
This spray cleaner from Muc-Off uses Nanotechnology to clean on a molecular level, cutting through grime without causing any abrasion to the bike’s finish. This makes it safe to use on all parts and surfaces of the bike, including carbon fiber and matte finishes.
The cleaning solution itself is fully biodegradable, and doesn’t contain any harmful substances, so there’s no harm in washing it away down the drain.
Simple, effective, and does the job
A simple household sponge is a surprisingly great tool for cleaning your bicycle. If you don’t already have one to hand, this grouting sponge from QEP is just the ticket, with its heavy duty density and unique hydrophiliated design for high water-holding capacity. Its rounded edges will also be gentle on the more delicate parts of the bike, so there’s no need to worry.
All the brushes you can need
Having a complete bike cleaning brush kit takes all the guesswork out of stocking your cleaning supplies. This 8-piece kit from Anndason offers all the brushes needed to get into the hard-to-reach places, as well as a chain-cleaner to keep your drivetrain shiny and happy for longer. Use the mitt-style brush for the wheels and frame, the cone-shaped brush for the hard-to-reach areas, and the toothbrush-type tool with long, stiff bristles to clean the cassette and mechs.
Cut through the grime for a sparkling drivetrain
WD-40 is a household name for a reason, and their specialist bike degreaser is just the thing you need to remove all the nasty grime from your drivetrain. It uses foaming action to cling to the bike’s surface so it can penetrate deeply into stubborn grease and grime. It’s safe to use on all bike finishes and components, including carbon fiber, as it doesn’t contain any abrasive ingredients.
Protect your bike against water damage and rust
Muc-Off’s Wundershine uses carnauba wax to polish your bike’s shiny surfaces, leaving them sparkling, while also filling minor scratches and removing imperfections. Since it’s wax, it’s naturally water-repellent, creating a residue-free impenetrable barrier, protecting against rain and condensation, and preventing any buildup of rust.
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