okies here it is, as membership is required to access this info, the definitive guide to bike washing, and this is what I do, and takes me 30 mins.
Discovery Channel Mechanics Bike Washing
Two sponges -- One for the chain and one for the rest of the bike.
Parts cleaning brush -- For the chain / cogs / chainrings. Or, a cheap
1" paint brush
Small bottle brush -- For the hard to get areas.
Degreaser -- For the chain / cogs / chainring
An old nasty water bottle. Cut the top off and you have a cup for your
A wide soft brush -- for chainrings and spokes -- the small dust pan
brushes work well here
How to do it:
Wander out to the sidewalk, get the hose out and make a bucket of soapy
water. I like to use the cut water bottle because when the bike is in the
workstand you can put your degreaser cup (the cut bottle) in the cage of
the bike so your degreaser is always close by. I'll also wash the bike
with the wheels off so I can get into all the tight areas (I'll usually do
the wheels last).
A) With the parts brush or paint brush "paint on" the degreaser onto your
chain, cogs and chainrings by turning the crank with one hand and brushing
on the degreaser with the other hand. In my obsessive / compulsive manner,
I count pedal revolutions when cleaning the chain. In my quest to go as
fast as possible, I want to do exactly what I need to and not a second
more. Pedal about 4 revolutions in the big ring and small cog and your
chain goes around one complete time. So when I degrease the chain, I
usually turn the crank in multiples of 4 depending on how dirty it is and
how much degreaser I need to brush on. Don't forget to do other dirty
areas like the derailleur pulleys and the derailleur itself.
B) Rinse the chain, cogs, chainrings and any other areas that you
degreased with water from the hose. You'l get most of the degreaser off
via this process. You can use a spray nozzle, just don't high-speed blast
C) Take a sponge (that will now and forever be your dirty-chain sponge)
and using the soapy water "grab" the chain with it and spin the crank with
the other hand as you use soapy water to get the remaining degreaser off
the chain. Remember the 4 crank revolution rule here? Now use the wide
brush or dust pan brush) to lightly brush the
chainrings with the soapy water.
D) Take the other sponge (this will be the frame sponge for its life) and
soap down the rest of the bike. Don't forget under the bottom bracket
shell where lots of debris collects, including but not limited to your
favorite sports drink clogging up the cables under the BB.
E) The bottle brush can get areas like under the saddle, inside the brake
calipers (when the wheel is off), some areas of the derailleurs,
in-between the crank and seat tube (below the front derailleur), under the
fork crown and any other area that is hard to get to with a sponge.
F) Handle bar tape can also be washed here (I'm a fan of white or light
colored tape) and with some soapy water and a clean sponge it can clean up
G) With the hose rinse off the whole bike now.
H) For the wheels brush on degreaser for the cogs (rear), sponge off the
tires and rims, and us the bottle brush gets inside to the tight hub shell
area and the wide brush for the spokes.
I) Rinse off the wheels and you are done. We don't dry the bikes, they
* Don't worry about the myth about getting water in your bearings. It is
just that. A myth as long as you don't point the hose at high pressure
directly at the bearings. I usually rinse off the bike with a wide spray
pattern instead of a narrow stream of water. Your bike will get way more
contaminated on a rain ride than the rinse cycle here.
As a team mechanic we have to wash bikes daily during races. If I can save
two or three minutes per bike, then the collective mechanics (usually 2 or
3 at each race) will save at least 20 minutes of work and thus be 20
minutes closer to dinner. If I am really flying, I can usually wash a bike
in about 5 or 6 minutes or so. When washing bikes daily they don't get so
dirty so it is not too hard to scrub off the day's dirt.
- Haven't washed your bike in 4 months? Then you are going to do a bit
more scrubbing that I do, and you will probably need a bit more degreaser
to get it clean also.
Good luck, and good riding!
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