Monday, July 20, 2009

Bike Needs A Bath, Badly

Ahh, hello again!

A "heavier-than-usual" work schedule and riding my blue bicycle have both consumed me to the exclusion of nearly everything else, except eating and sleeping. Well, I haven't been sleeping enough, either...

Last week, I finally got sick of my bike being a crusty mess. There was mud caked to the underside of the downtube, dried Gatorade on the downtube, road dust on the wheels and brakes... yuck. So, I decided to give it a bath.

It's a surprisingly easy thing to do, and it doesn't take long. Here's how I did it:

1 old one-gallon ice cream bucket, filled with warm soapy water (used dishsoap; it's cheap, available, cuts grease well, and is gentle)

3 cleaning rags: One for the frame and wheels, one for the chain, crank-set, and cassette, and one for polishing the frame

1 ParkTool Cyclone Chain Scrubber, plus citrus degreaser

1 bottle of Pedros BikeLust frame polish

I cleaned my chain with the Cyclone and a wet rag to cut the degreaser once the chain had run through the scrubber's brushes a few times. This was to make sure that the chain lube would stick once the chain was dry. I used this same rag to "floss" between the cassette rings, once I took the back wheel off (I love quick release).

Once I put the back wheel back on, I took an old toothbrush to my crankset chainrings. A toothbrush is great for getting bigger bits of sand and dirt out of crevases, and then used the wet rag to clean off the dirt and old lube that the toothbrush wouldn't get.

After the crankset, chain, and cassette were shining silver again, I turned my attention to the wheels and frame. I made sure to clean the dirtiest parts of the bike last, so I didn't spread the rest of the grim around. In addition to cleaning the wheel spokes and axles, I made sure the rims were clean, as well as the brake pads. The brakes no longer shriek!

The nice part? All of this only took one hour. And now the bike is clean!

The cool part? I rode with the women's group out of a local shop the next day and one of my buddy's asked, "Did you get a new bike?" I smiled and said, "Nope, it's just clean."

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.