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Your bike is supposed to get dirty, that’s what it’s made for.
Once it happens, you need to know how to clean a mountain bike without damaging any important parts.
Mountain bikes are made to ride through dirt, mud, and all kinds of gunk.
You don’t want caked-on dirt and grime to wreak havoc on your chain, cassette, and other moving parts. That’s why it’s important to clean your bike after a ride before the mud has a chance to dry and build-up.
At the same time, however, you don’t need to bother washing off a few specks of dirt. In fact, over washing your bike can actually cause more harm than good.
How to clean a bicycle: get your supplies ready
In order to give your bike a wash you need all the proper supplies. Fortunately, you’ll only need to buy the most expensive items once. Other consumable items are a lot less expensive.
- Bike stand
- Brushes in a variety of sizes
- Water source, preferably a hose but a bucket will also do
- Soap or bike cleaner
- Brake cleaner
How to wash a bike
From start to finish, you need to know how to clean a mountain bike or how to wash a bike properly to avoid damaging moving parts.
Get set up
If you own a home, it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to give your bike a wash. For people living in apartments or urban areas, this might be a little more difficult.
Try beach parks or other facilities that might have an available hose or water source. If you can’t find a hose, a bucket will work just fine, too.
After you’ve got all your supplies ready and a location, place your bike on the stand and get ready to wash.
Spray off excess dirt
Spray off the caked-on dirt, mud, or other debris. If you’re using a hose, stand about 10 feet back to avoid hitting your bike with high-pressure water.
You can use slightly more water pressure on the frame than you would on the chains, gears, and cassette. When rinsing moving parts, make sure to use barely more than a mist.
Get your soap or specialty bike cleaner ready to go and start scrubbing. Use larger brushes to clean the frame and smaller brushes to clean the chain, cassette, and moving parts.
You can scrub the inside of the tires and the spokes, but you really don’t need to bother scrubbing the treads themselves – they’ll just get dirty again anyways. Just make sure you get all the mud off and you’re good.
Clean moving parts
It’s especially important to make sure you clean the chain, drivetrain, and moving parts. They can get quite dirty and without a proper bike wash, this can affect the integrity of your ride. You don’t want to end up fixing a busted chain on a ride when you could have just cleaned it.
This is where bike cleaner comes in handy. Soap will do just fine for the frame, but bike cleaner is specially designed for these intricate moving parts.
Don’t get any of the bike cleaner on your brakes – it can cause them to degrade. Instead, buy special bike brake cleaner or just wipe with a cloth and water.
Once you’ve cleaned every detail, it’s time to rinse off the dirt and soap. Make sure not to use any high-pressure hose because this could damage your bike. Simply spray lightly or dump some water from your bucket.
Shake your bike a little to throw off some of the excess water. Using a soft cloth, take special care to dry the chain, cassette, and other moving parts. Feel free to let your frame and tires air dry.
Long-term water exposure to these pieces can cause rust or other damage. Once again, you don’t want to end up replacing your parts on a ride because you forgot to dry them after a bike wash.
This is probably the most important part of washing your bike. After it’s clean and you’ve dried the moving parts, you need to apply ample lube to your chain, suspension, drivetrain, and everything else. Even if your bike doesn’t get dirty often, it’s important to do this once every few months.
Rotate the pedals a few times and then wipe away any excess lube. It’s very important to avoid your brakes during this stage as well because lube can damage the brake discs.