Bike Washing Help!

We get newsletter emails from the guys over at The Hive, makers of Chub Hubs, importers of Formula Brakes, etc.

This month, there was a nice little chunk of info about bike washing techniques and strategy, which I will copy and paste now.  Happy New Year!

Tech Tip
So it is winter, and where we are, that means mud. That might mean worse weather where you are, in either case if you are riding through the winter (you are riding through the winter right?) you are going to need to know how to keep your bike clean. While the standard garden hose seems like your best bet, think again. Hosing you bike after every ride isn't really the best thing for your bike, specifically the bearings. So what to do when your sweet ride is covered in a weeks worth of mud and horse crap? A couple tips can help you from wrecking those ever important bearings:

Our man Joe at Santa Cruz bikes says:
"Stop washing your bike so much. We did some experiments with bikes that were washed a lot but ridden infrequently, bikes that were ridden a lot but washed infrequently, and bikes that were both washed and ridden a lot. Guess what? Your bike hates only being washed and not being ridden. This test group had the worst results. They became creaky and not much fun to be around, much like the people who own bikes like that. Don't get all angry (you know who you are), you can still wash your bike from time to time - and there are those times where it has to be done after every ride. Everything needs more attention during those times. BUT, maybe you should examine your priorities. It's a mountain bike. You can get dirt on it. It's OK."
Joe knows his stuff and as the head engineer of Santa Cruz bikes he seems to know more about bicycles than he does about fine scotch.

So...

  • If your bike it just a little dirty clean it with a rag. Knock all the big chunks of dirt off first then go over the frame with some Pledge furniture cleaner. Not only will your bike be shiny, but it will also smell lemony fresh. Just be careful not to get any on your disc brakes.
  • Grease those bearings. Use a high quality grease and change it occasionally, this will keep bearing debris and wear to a minimum. Also inspect the bearing seals and make sure that they are in good condition. On the Fifteen.g bottom bracket, try putting a layer of grease under the outer non-contact shield. This will help keep any water that does make it around the seal from getting to the bearing.
  • If your bike is covered in filth, it is ok to bust out the hose. But do it PRO style, spend more time brushing and less time spraying. Take your wheels off and clean the separately. Warm water helps.
  • Don't point the hose at your headset, hubs or BB. Pressure washing is a definite no-no. "But the pros pressure wash their bikes after every stage of the tour", yeah we know, the pros also have a team of mechanics repacking their bearings once a week. You don't need to wrap those parts in stretch wrap, but avoiding a direct blast will help avoid forcing water into those parts.
  • If you must wash your bike know the risks. Bikes that get hosed off will need a bit more love to stay happy. Washing your bike isn't the worst thing in the world, but realize that you will need to service your bearings more frequently. So from time to time, bust out the grease and spend some time cleaning the inside of your bike.

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