The Bicycle Diaries: Maintenance

Maintaining and cleaning a cycle is the least glamorous part of owning a bicycle. But it’s an essential task to keep your cycle in perfect condition, which in turn will let you ride the wind like the king you are. Sure, you could always go to your nearest bicycle store and get it serviced. 

But there is something about cleaning and maintaining your bike all by yourself. This feeling..How do I put it? Pride? Happiness? Whatever it is, it will leave you a wise and intellectually fulfilled (well, you can pass down the knowledge to others. Hence the intellectually fulfilled part) man by the end of the day.

Image result for cleaning bicycle
Image Source: Cycle Republic

I’m no expert on bicycle maintenance, but I can pass down some nuggets of wisdom to the bicycle fledgling who wants to get his hands dirty and his cycle clean.

To that effect, here goes nothing. Keep in mind this is only for road bikes. I have no clue about mountain bike maintenance

  • Search for a good degreaser and a lubricant at your local bike store or online. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bicycle degreaser or lube. Motorbike degreasers do a fine job as well.
  • The place of cleaning. While it’s preferable to clean your bicycle outdoors, if there is a lack of space, the indoors works too. Keep some newspapers on the floor where ever you are going to do the cleaning and keep your bicycle upside down on the papers.
  • You can purchase a chain cleaning brush online or at the bike store. There is a fancy cleaner online where you pour the degreaser in it and attach it to the chain and let it rip. If that doesn’t bode well for you, then those old toothbrushes have finally found a purpose in life. Cleaning your chain and drivetrain, of course. A soft or medium toothbrush would suffice.
  • A sponge, some soap water and a clean cloth are a absolute necessity. 
  • Have a multi-tool for your bike. Trust me, it will help you down the road.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Image result for cleaning bicycle
Image Source: Rei Co-op
  • Start out by cleaning the chain and drive-train first. They’re the most crucial parts of the bike and a greasy chain and drive-train will lower the quality of the ride down the road. So start by spraying the degreaser on your chain and give your chain a backward spin first. Most of the grease will come out.
  • After the spin, use your brush to clean the chain by spinning it and keeping your brush near the cassette area at first. Then clean the other parts of your chain (over,under and the sides) and the drive-train with the brush.
  • Leave the chain to rest for some time with the degreaser. Give it about 15 minutes.
  • Repeat this process 4 times or so for the chain and the drive-train.
  • Now take the sponge, soak it in soap-water and clean the rest of your bike, including your tires.
  • Take a clean cloth and dry off your bike.
  • Now, after all this, take the lubricant and apply it on your chain. I’ve seen people say that the lubricant should be applied within minutes of cleaning the chain and drive-train. So, clean the chain with a dry cloth first and then apply the lubricant by spraying it while you spin the chain. Let it rest for 20 minutes or so.

That’s about the knowledge I know and can pass on. If there are better ways to clean a bike, do tell me. I would be more than happy to learn.

That’s it for today. Ciao