I’m not proud of what I’m about to tell you. I used to take some sort of weird pride in having a dirty bike. It was like I thought it was cool and that I was tough. And I wasn’t some sissy that needed a shiny bike.
Now I’m different. And not just because I have a new bike. Now I actually take pride in having a clean chain and I think, wait let me take that back and say I know that my bike runs better when it’s well cared for. And clean. And properly lubed. Before I go any further as usual you should take care before you take me too serious. I’m a total hack and I’m learning as I go. Just like many of you. Minus the hack part. So just in case you are like me and you have your mechanic on speed text and you actually think it’s fun when someone else cleans your bike for you, please read on.
First things first. Having a dirty bike is not a sign of coolness or toughness. I’d wager it’s a sign of laziness. I know. Ouch. Right? But really. Why do we think it’s someone else’s job to clean up after us and whatever gave us the idea that a dirty bike runs better than a clean one? So here’s what you do. You create a habit. And yes I have other things to do besides clean my bike like the laundry and the dishes.
Here are a few tips for what you’ll need:
- Bike stands are not just for pros or boys or mechanics. If you can, invest in one so you can more easily clean and work on your bike. If not, lean it up against something stable. Not your dog.
- Get a stiff brush, a soft brush, a bucket, some mild dish soap and a soft sided sponge. Also have on hand a few not lint-y towels for drying. My favs are from the automotive store. Some for drying, some for cleaning your chain and some for lube jobs.
- Hose (nuff said). Not a power sprayer.
- Lube + your lube rag.
- A beer.
- Music if possible.
Now someone might tell you you’re doing it all wrong. In my opinion that’s why many of us don’t clean and work on our bikes because we are paralyzed by the “negative Nelly” that lives in our head. Lock her up and get to washing your bike. You’re not going to kill it and chances are you aren’t going to break it. Just try it. If you’re anything like me and I’m bettin’ you are you’ll like it. And it will be addictive. Because what’s cooler than a shiny chain? A chain that is so clean and lubed that it doesn’t skip a beat? Than stanchions that don’t have mud on them the next time you flow through some sweet downhill and how about a clean and lovely rear cassette. Ahh...I get excited just thinking about it.
Listen use your common sense. If you have none, find some. Ask your mechanic about how to wash your bike. They love sharing what they know (at least they better). Just take it like a first date; slow and easy. And you’ll be just fine.