Looking after your bike is not just repairing things when they break, prevention is a much better idea, and probably cheaper as your bike parts will last longer is you look after them, this means cleaning your bike regularly and then after all the road dirt and grime has gone, oiling and greasing all the moving parts so that they will run more smoothly and work better and last longer.
- Washing up liquid
- Old paint brush
Then for after you’ve cleaned the bike you will need more clothes, oil and grease.
How to clean your bike
Start by taking the wheels out of the bike and hang the bike up some where, if you have a work stand all the better, but if not use a washing line or a handy tree.
First clean the chain with the degreaser and the old paint brush, if there is any sticky marks on the frame its self put a bit of degreaser there as well, but be careful not to get the degreaser on the saddle or handlebar tape as it could ruin them.
Then with soapy hot water and the sponge give the whole bike a good wash getting the entire bike clean, especially the chain, make sure you get all the degreaser off.
Once your happy that all the dirt has gone, rinse of all the soap and dirt with fresh water, then either dry the bike with clean clothes or leave it dry in the sun. Inspect the frame and components for any damage, cracks or wear.
Next the wheels
With the old paint brush and the degreaser clean the sprockets, remember to keep the degreaser away from the tires, as it will not do them any good.
Then with the sponge give the wheels a good wash, paying a lot of attention to the sprockets and the tires, this is a good time to look at the condition of the tires, if there are any cuts or worn sections of the tread, if there is, this is a good time to change them.
Wash all the spokes and the rims, inspect the rims for any wear or if they are cracked or damaged. Now dry the wheels with a cloth and leave them to dry in the sun, but be careful not to leave them too long in the sun or the tires might explode with them expanding in the heat.
Put the bike back together
Put the wheels back into the bike, with a good chain oil, either spray or pour oil on the chain and then wipe off any excess so it doesn’t drop on the frame. With a lightweight oil, spray onto all moving parts, the front and rear gear mechanisms, the brake pivot bolts, the inside of the brake levers and the gear and brake gables.
If the cables are stiff then take them out and grease them and pour oil into the outer cable and put grease where the cables rub under the bottom bracket and any other places where they might rub. If you want the frame to sparkle use a household polish and a soft cloth to make the frame shiny.
Greasing other parts
Years ago the hubs, bottom bracket, head-set and freewheel needed to be striped down, cleaned and greased, most now are sealed bearings and don’t need maintenance, also you cant open them to do any greasing or adjustment, if they are worn you have to replace them. If you have some old equipment that can be striped down, it’s a good idea to do this every six months at least.
Hubs can be opened by unscrewing the cone nuts; you can then clean the bearings and then put grease back in the hubs.
Older headsets are very similar to the hubs, you loosen the lock nut, clean inside and then grease, with an A-headset you loosen the stem and just open the head-set, clean it and then grease it, bottom bracketshave been sealed now for years, but if you can open it, then do the same, clean inside and grease the bearings.
Most of these jobs need special tools and can be very fiddly, probably best left to an expert, but it is very unlikely that you have any old stuff that you can grease, you can try to oil these sealed units, but if its worn it’ll need replacing. Your bike should now be gleaming and running smoothly, and hopefully it should last longer if you do this regularly.