Mountain bike washing is necessary and the second step to good mountain bike maintenance. Keeping a mountain bike clean and looking new, makes it easier to spot damage and to do a service. Regular washing is better than not washing because you prevent dirt build in the moving parts. Dirt results is wear and tear, so a clean bicycle makes it quicker and faster and inviting to ride. This is especially true for mountain bikes because they get a lot dirtier than other bicycles. It should less than 15 minutes to do a decent mtb wash and a bit longer for a full valet.
Mountain Bike Washing Tools
With the right set of brushes you will be able to wash and clean your bike properly. Using a sponge is common but it does not get in to all the little gaps and slows down the washing process. Instead go to the local supermarket and buy the following bike washing tools:
- Medium bucket for some soapy water to soak the brushes
- Big soft brush – dust pan brush with soft bristles – must be soft, the harder ones will leave light scratch marks on your frame. This is your main brush to be used all over, except for oily grimy bike parts.
- Smaller hard brush – smaller toilet type brush with a small head and harder bristles. This is great for the grimy chain cassette and chain rings
- A bottle brush. This is for the hubs inside the spokes and between the frame and crank arm and chain rings.
Other bike wash items needed are:
- Degreaser, paraffin or strong detergent for the chain and oily cassettes
- Chain cleaner – special chain cleaning tool to clean the chain while it is still on the bike
How to clean a mountain bike
- Spray some degreaser or strong detergent on the cassette, chain and chain rings
- Use the chain cleaning tool with degreaser or paraffin to clean the chain
- While 1 and 2 are soaking prepare a bucket of soapy solution, dish washing liquid works well
- Use the big soft brush, dip into the bucket to wash the bike. Start at the top, handle bars and seat and work your way down. Use the brush to get into all the little gaps and dislodge the dirt. Clean the rims using this brush in a circular motion on either side of the wheel
- Use the small hard brush for the cassette, chain rings and even the chain if you don’t have a chain cleaner.
- Use the bottle brush on the hubs and spokes.
- Now get the hose pipe and spray the bike off. It should be sparkly clean with no sign of dirt.
- If it is warm and sunny then shake the bike off and leave to dry, otherwise you can wipe dry with a cloth.
Bike Washing Tips
- Using the brushes really speeds things up and does the best job
- A chain cleaner is really worth it and it works well
- Do the 5 minute quick bike wash if your bike is not very dirty – just spray with degreaser and use the big brush all over and spray off.
- If the bike is seriously muddy or dirty then a spray off followed by a double wash will be necessary.
- Removing the wheels is a good idea to give it a valet clean or to get to the tricky parts but it is not necessary for every wash
- Spray the bike off from the top not the side to avoid direct spray into hub and crank seals
- Don’t use hot water as it can remove some of the internal grease that should stay put
- Don’t let the chain stand wet for more than a few minutes to avoid rusting in coastal areas.
- Don’t wash and then store your bike wet, the trapped water will cause rusting during storage . Rather leave it in sun to dry, hand dry or ride it a bit to get the water out.
- Best is a quick wash straight after a ride while you are still dirty. Then leave to dry and all you need to do is a check and re-lube and you are ready to ride again.
- Now you can fix a clean bike with the recommended bike tools
Check out our Mountain Bike Maintenance and Repair Guide for the next step in maintaining your bike. Join our mailing list and we will let you know when we update this section