How To Clean A Dirty Road Bike In A Hurry – GCN’s Rapid Bike Wash

How To Clean A Dirty Road Bike In A Hurry – GCN’s Rapid Bike Wash


We often say—and I mean we really often say here at GCN— that you should keep your bike clean. And you should. But there are times when perhaps after a really long, wet ride or maybe, after just weeks and weeks of riding and not looking after it that your bike may end up looking like this. Filthy. And while that’s not good practice, ultimately it is okay, because I’m going to show you how you can very quickly get your bike looking like new again. “How to Wash a Filthy Bike” To make the job easier now that we’ve got a thick layer of mud on this bike, I’m going to use some specific cleaning products. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but this is a different ballgame now. This bike is absolutely filthy and they’re going to make the job easier. Before we get started though, you got to get a bucket of hot, soapy water. It’s really important that it’s hot because that’s going to help shift the grease and the grime much much easier. Exactly as if you were doing the washing up in fact. And then you need to get a big sponge, a couple of stiff bristle brushes as well. And then of all the cleaning products that you can buy the one that’s going to make the single biggest difference is some good quality degreaser. You will put the same level of effort in, but get a much much cleaner bike at the end of it all. Before we get anything wet though, we’re going to start by degreasing the chain. Now you either want to spray it on there or paint it on with a brush depending on what type of degreaser that you have, and then once the chain is covered you also need to get on the cassette and also the chainrings as well. I find that any degreaser on the chain is enough to actually degrease the jockey wheels as well. It can get really gunked up. We don’t want to spray them directly because although the bearings are sealed and getting a little bit of degreaser on isn’t going to make them melt as some people seem to think that it will, we don’t want to test them out either. You don’t want to drown your components in degreaser. That’s not necessary. I’m going to leave the degreaser to do its thing now and I’m going to get started with a bucket of hot, soapy water, starting at the top of the bike so that way that any dirty water drips down onto dirty bike where we then clean it off in a little minute. Saddle first, making sure that we get right underneath it. Because if you don’t have mudguards, it’s going to be filthy. Now the shifters you can see, despite the fact the bike is absolutely filthy, don’t really need much cleaning so I’m not gonna get them really wet. Just give them a really cursory wipe. When we’re on really dirty sections of frame like the downtube here, we’re going to make sure I use loads of water, and that’s so that I don’t end up getting loads of grit onto my sponge, where I then start wiping it around all over the frame like some kind of rudimentary sandpaper. So, get a little bit on, more water, and keep that sponge at least relatively clean. I’ve done all I can at this stage, I’ve now got to drop the wheels out, and then we can clean those and also the frame a little bit more thoroughly. Now if you don’t have a stand you want to leave the frame propped up against something resting on your fork blades and your shifters. We can now clean inside the fork blades and also the chain stays and pay really close attention to the brake calipers as well, making sure you give the pads a thorough scrub to get rid of any grit that’s embedded in them. We turn our attention to the wheels next. I find that to clean them quickly and thoroughly, I just grab hold of the tyre really tightly with the sponge, making sure that I clean the brake track as I’m going around, and then I do each side individually as well, getting into the rim, too. Don’t neglect your spokes as well. I find that if they’re filthy and the rest of the bike is clean it’s still going to look— well, let’s face it, it’s not going to look right. So give those a bit of a clean, and then I find that to clean the hub thoroughly just to loosen the dirt off first, I actually need to get a brush involved and then finish it off with a sponge. It’s the same process for the back wheel of course but in addition, by now, our degreaser will have worked it’s magic. So I’m going to get involved with a brush first and then with a sponge. We’re nearly done, but, we still have the drivetrain to do. Now, like with our cassette, the degreaser should have done its work by now, so it is a case of just rinsing it off with our hot soapy water. Now I am a big advocate of chain cleaning devices. It has to be said, but if you don’t have one, degreaser and a sponge will get the job pretty much done as well. Put the chain on the big ring, that’s always a good tip, and use that point to clean the outer plates of the chain to get it looking shiny. Then of course, front mech, rear mech, chainrings and cranks. One clean, but soapy bike, so now will be the time if you have a hosepipe, just to very gently rinse the bike off. But given that I don’t have a hosepipe right now, I’m just going to get a bucket of clean fresh water, still warm, so my hands don’t get cold. Take a towel or a rag to it just to get the worst of the water off it, and then you need really to leave your bike to dry in a warm place. I know that may cause some of us issues, and believe me it does, but before you store your bike potentially outside somewhere cold it really really needs to be completely dry that’s going to make the biggest difference, ultimately, to the longevity of your bike, not whether you get it wet when you’re riding it or when you’re washing it. What’s going to help is to spray on some kind of water displacer as well, so get that all over the chain, and the derailers, your pedals, and that will really make a difference too. The only job that you definitely have left to do is to lubricate your chain. But I’m going to wait until the bike is completely dry before I do that. And then also any other maintenance job that you may have lined up. It’s just nicer working on a dry bike. But otherwise there you go! That is one clean as a whistle bike. And you remember what look like just a couple of minutes ago, so that is a job reasonably well done. Remember that the most important thing of all is to invest in some good quality degreaser. I can’t stress that enough, but when your bike is in poor condition, then that is going to make all the difference. Aside from degreaser, those spokes, those pesky spokes, that can often drag down the look of your bike, do make sure you don’t neglect those, and similarly your braking gear cables up front can be really easy to forget, but they do collect a lot of rubbish. Oh, and then the other mistake that I made just the other day was actually forgetting to clean the other side of my bike. Because I was in a rush. So don’t do that. That’s just… stupid. Right, there we go, a job done. If you want to see more videos like this— and we have already plenty in the can—then do make sure you subscribe to GCN. That means every time we release video you’ll know about it, so you’ll be in exactly the right place. To do that, Just click on the globe, and then for more GCN content—though if you want to see the pros cleaning bikes— I mean pros out bike-cleaning, why not check out the Team Sky mechanics. They showed Lloydy how to do it and that video is just up there. Or for some more maintenance tips for winter, because it is quite a specific time of year for looking after you bike, click just down there.