So – You raced Barry last weekend (or Melting Mann the weekend before, or Landrun 100 the week before that) and your bike is still sitting in the garage covered w/ mud, right?
We feel ya.
Early season gravel races, the infamous “Mud Year” up at Iceman or just all of those dirty rides in between – the cruel truth is that bikes get dirty…but work better when they’re clean.
So – how do we get there?
The longer that you let it sit, the bigger project it’s gonna be so let’s get it started
First off – water is okay. The car wash is a option but your good ol’ garden variety garden hose is good too.
RULE #1 – Do NOT direct water at high pressure at the headset, bottom bracket or hubs! Water isn’t bad per se….but blasting away at the bearings will ensure that you force H2O past the seals and contaminate the grease (Can you say “Time for a new bottom bracket?”). As a good guideline: direct running water PAST bearing areas, not AT them, and you’re good.
Remove the wheels and use the water to rinse off as much of the dirt/mud as you can. Then take a clean rag and do the “shoeshine boy thing” in all of the nooks and crannies, paying special attention to the derailleurs and brake calipers. An old toothbrush or that Park GSC-1 brush is good for getting crap outta the chainrings and frame junctions.
Once the frame and components are spotless (kidding!), give the wheels the same treatment. Make sure that you clean out the space between the cassette cogs ‘cuz dirt loves hangin’ out there.
Okay – wheels back on and onto….
SPECIAL PROJECT #1 – The chain is likely a mess. This guy has a huge job to do and is worthy of some TLC. Take a brush or clean rag (and maybe some degreaser) and clean it off as best you can. You’re gonna re-lube it and there’s no reason to lube a dirty chain as you’re simply rinsing the dirt down farther in the rollers. Park makes a cool device for cleaning your chain called the CG-2 that is essential a car wash for your chain that makes cleaning it a piece of cake… but failing that some elbow grease and some solvent will get’cha there. Once it’s as clean as you can get it, wipe it dry and apply your chain lube of choice (We like T-9).
SPECIAL PROJECT #2 – Your shift and gear cables are likely running through their respective housing slowly and with a lot of extra drag. Some attention paid to them can really help with shifting and braking. For the shift cables, shift your bike into the lowest gear then shift all the way into the highest WITHOUT TURNING THE PEDALS so that the cables hang loose. Then you can move the lengths of housing back and forth and even hit ’em w/ some lube. For the brakes you can lube the housings at the points where the cable enters and exits. (Note: Internal cable routing effectively eliminates this trick)
Once the cables are running as smooth as can be – it’s time for….
SPECIAL PROJECT #3 – Brake pads! Whether you were fortunate enough to finish B-R w/ function brakes or were among the decent percentage that were seen employing the “Flintstone Brake Maneuver” by the end, the fact is that wet gritty conditions beat the crap outta brake pads. Even if yours aren’t all the way gone, check them for wear and to make sure that there’s no grit embedded (that’ll ruin your rims or disc rotors).
Okay – that may sound like a lot of work but it’s r-e-a-l-l-y only about 45 minutes of good work – and you’ll be REALLY glad you did come Lowell 50 or the Hellkaat Hundie!
As always – stop by the shop w/ questions, issues, problems or just ‘cuz you wanna hang around and talk bikes!
Mike Clark has worked, owned, or operated bike shops most of his adult life. He has an inordinate amount of experience cleaning crud off bikes.