After riding your mountain bike for days, just like your car, it needs to be given a thorough cleaning. It is essential you give it a clean wash as that will come with plenty of benefits. Not only will leave you to a sparkling clean bike, but it will also in a way help enhance its over-performance in the road since you will be getting rid of dirt and debris stuck at the crankset.
The whole process may seem simple and hassle-free, but there is a lot that goes into the whole thing, you need to be armed with the right skills to give your mountain bike that spotless cleaning.
For beginners, here are top tips on how to clean a mountain bike in a few and simple steps.
What you need for the cleaning
Like when you are doing any other kind of cleaning, for you to give your mountain bike a nice cleaning, there are a number of essentials you would actually require for the process. Obviously, you will need a dirty bike, but here are other things you will need. Of course, it is not a must you have all of them, but the more the better.
- A sponge
- Small brush for the components
- Big brush for the frame
- A hose/ or a bucket of water
- Polish spray
- Bike cleaner spray
- Disc brake cleaner spray
- A bike stand
Find a suitable place
This, obviously, is the first thing you need to do; find a suitable place to carry out that thorough cleaning. Of course, you are not going to do in the house; a nice place in the backyard will be just perfect. Once you have identified a great place put the bike on the stand.
From there, equipped with your water pressure hose, give is a thorough water spray. That will help you get rid of any excess mud and dirt. On the other hand, if you don’t have a high-pressure hose, you can just use a bucket of water. This will require a little bit of craft, but if you can pull it well, you will have those excess mud and dirt off within a very short time. Besides, even if you are using a hose, you would still need a sponge and a bucket of water to give the frame that nice wash.
Get your bike brushes out
Once you have all the excess dirt and mud out, the next thing you need to do is to find bike brushes. This will ensure every single particle is removed and your bike left spotless. When it comes to brushing to stubborn dirt away, you may want to start from the top of the bike as you go down. That will prevent dirt and other particles from falling onto other parts that you have already cleaned.
With a big brush, you can easily wipe away any remaining dust or dirt on the frame. For areas like the suspension and the Drivetrain, a finer brush would really come in handy. A small brush will be able to get into those tight spots and have all the dirt removed.
Give the Suspension and the Drivetrain a nice wash
This is the heart of your mountain bike. It is what makes the bike move and for this reason, you might want to give it a nice cleaning. For this part, you would actually need a bike cleaner. That bike cleaner, unlike water, will be able to effectively cut through the grease and oil that often build up in that area. When it comes to this part, additionally, you might need to make sure you have both sides of the chainrings cleaned. The cassette must also be degreased. The suspension will also need a thorough wash, but you need to be careful. Do not use a bike cleaner on this part. It might wear it off.
Rinse the bike off
This, obviously, is one of the easiest things you could do. Again using your pressure hose or some more water in a bucket, rinse the whole unit off. Make sure no soap or cleaning product is left on the bike
Dry the bike off
You are now right in the middle of the entire cleaning process. Once you are sure the bike is clean; that is no dirt or grease is left, dry it off. At this pointing time, you might want to give the drivetrain, suspension and those other crucial components a bit of special focus. These parts need to be extremely dry before you could lubricate them.
This is now one of the most important parts of the whole process. Lubricating your bike is essential and does come with plenty of benefits. First, it protects any moving part from wear and tear. Secondly, it also allows your bike to perform optimally since it allows the smooth running of the bike. When it comes to lubrication, there are a couple of places that need that nice bike lube.
However, before you start applying the lube, you need to take the bike off the stand.
With the lube, make sure the front part is well lubricated. With this, you need to be careful so that no excess lube trickles down to the brakes. Once you have had this critical part well lubed, pump the suspension a few times. If you see that excess lube comes out, wipe it off.
Unlike the suspension, this part will require you to do things a little bit different. You need to both lubricate and oil it up. Normally, before you can start the process, you need to pedal the bike a few times. You need to make sure there is no water left. Put the lube right onto the chain as you continue to run the chain. Like we mentioned earlier; you need to ensure no lube gets into the brakes.
Once you are sure the place has received a nice touch of lubrication, you need to backpedal the bike as you use a piece of cloth to get off that excess lube. You are not done, using the right oil, oil each derailleur up to finish it off. Again this is one thing you might need to be doing it after a few months.
- Disc brakes:
Like we mentioned earlier, no oil or lube should get into the part. In fact, it is said no cleaning product should find its way into your disc brakes. So how do you need to go about this area? It might come as a surprise to a lot of people, did you know water would just be fine for this part. Using water, give it a nice cleaning and make sure it is thoroughly dried. In other cases, if you have a disc cleaner, that would do an amazing job for sure. You can use the cleaner to spray this part and have it wiped with a piece of soft cloth afterward.
Take your bike’s polish out
Well, you are done and before you have your bike parked in the garage, you might need to do this one final process. Take your bike polish and give the frame that nice spray. This comes with a number of benefits. It will leave the frame looking all shiny and sparkling clean.
Mountain Bike Cleaning Common Mistakes Most People Do
Despite the process being ridiculously simple and hassle-free, there are a number of common mistakes most people do when carrying out the process. Here are common mistakes and why you need to avoid them.
Using the wrong cleaner
This is one of the most common mistakes most people do when it comes to cleaning a mountain bike; using the wrong cleaner. With it comes to the kind of cleaner to use, you need to be very careful with what you use. A wrong choice could end up causing some serious damages to your bike. A bike comes made of different metal and rubber materials and usually come with different cleaning requirements.
For example, the high alkaline cleaner could make the rubber dry out and eventually crack. On the other hand, those detergent-based soaps could cause some serious damages to aluminum. So when it comes to cleaning products to use, you need to find one that wouldn’t react with any metal or plastic.
Using the wrong lube
As with the cleaner, the kind of lube you choose to use is very crucial. It must be the right one. Sadly, most people tend to go for those cheap lubes they see being sold in the market today. Using the wrong lube could cause some serious damages to your bike; most are not able to withstand conditions and use. Plus, other come made from chemicals that could cause some of your bike parts to wear off.
Re-lubing the chain without first cleaning it off
Chain forms an integral part of your bike and for this very reason, you need to give it the kind of special attention it really needs. One of the biggest mistakes most people do when it comes to this part is re-lubing it without first getting rid of dirt and old lube build-up. That could actually shorten the lifespan of your chain. So before you take out that lube and have it lubricated, you might need to ensure that oil and dirt build-up is first removed before applying a new layer of lube.
Not starting from the top going downwards
This cannot be overemphasized enough; when you are carrying out that nice wash on your bike, you are always advised to work from top to bottom. Interestingly, most people don’t take this very seriously. It is important you do this as that will make sure every single dust or dirt falls directly to the ground and not the parts of the mountain bike you had already washed.
High pressured water
Although high-pressure water could in away make sure every single part of your mountain bike is left free from dirt and debris, it could also come with some serious issues. You need to control the pressure as that high pressured water could actually force soapy water into the bearing and you know what that means. It will not only make the bearing not work as expected but could also shorten the life of this crucial part.
In the end, really, cleaning a mountain bike is not really a very difficult job. Once you have the right cleaning materials and products, there is no way you would go wrong. The only thing you need to know is the steps you need to follow from the beginning right to the time you store the bike after nice wash.