How to Clean Your Bike Like a Pro


Professional road-bike racers have mechanics that clean their bikes in just 10 minutes or so after every race day and load them on to the team truck. You can get the protocol the mechanics follow down to an art yourself, as it only requires assembling the right supplies and practice to get fast and efficient. The result will be a much less wear and tear, especially on your drive train. Pro mechanic Daimeon Shanks advises in “Essential Bicycle Maintenance & Repair” washing your bike every 10 rides or so and more often after trips in wet weather.

Things You'll Need

  • Repair stand
  • Chain keeper
  • Dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Water bottle, cut in half
  • Degreaser
  • 2-inch paintbrush
  • Large natural-bristle brush
  • Small brush with flexible bristles
  • Lint-free rag
  • Chain grease
  • Light oil
  • Rag
  • Air compressor or blower
  • Lift the bike into a repair stand if available or lean it against a tree or a building. Remove the wheels. Place a chain keeper, a simple plastic device that serves as a placeholder for the rear wheel, between the rear dropouts.

  • Squeeze a generous amount of dish soap into a bucket and fill it with water, Shanks recommends. Add a few tablespoons of degreaser to a water bottle cut in half horizontally and place the water bottle in the cage on the seat tube.

  • Paint the undiluted degreaser on the chain, chainrings, derailleurs and their pulleys with a 2-inch paintbrush. Let the degreaser go to work as you continue by painting more degreaser on the cassette to complete your cleansing of the drivetrain. Place the cut-in-half water bottle aside. Scrub the drivetrain and cassette with a large natural-bristle brush and soapy water from the bucket. Rinse off the drivetrain and cassette with a garden hose to remove the grease.

  • Spray the frame and wheels to remove loose grime with the hose with the sprayer set at a light shower setting. Rinse off your large brush -- its natural bristles should repel the grease so they become clean -- and scrub the wheel rims, spokes, tires and hubs. Clean where the spokes meet the wheel and the hub shell with a smaller brush with thin, flexible bristles. Set the wheels aside to dry.

  • Wash the bike frame and components from top to bottom, starting at the saddle, with soapy water and the large brush for accessible areas and the small brush for difficult areas, such as around the brake pads. Rinse the bike thoroughly and wipe it down with a lint-free rag. Remove the chain holder, grease the drive train and oil the derailleurs, and wipe off any extra oil and grease after a few minutes with a rag.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to dry your bike like the pros, use an air compressor or hand-held blower for a thorough finish.
  • Avoid rinsing off bike grime with the hose too forcefully, which can force degreaser-laden water into your bearings, advises “Bicycling” magazine.

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  • Photo Credit Oli Scarff/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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