Cleaning your stallion at least once a month will ensure your components function better and last for years to come. Washing your bicycle is easy, but there are a few components that need a bit more attention than others. To wash your bike, prepare the following items:
PREP – if you have multiple gears, place your front chain on the biggest chain ring, and your rear on the smallest. This will help clean the chain later and more easily remove the rear wheel (if you are so inclined).
WET – spray down your bike with a garden hose or some rinse water. The goal is to get off the large chunks of gunk without blasting out the grease from your bearings. Keep in mind most of the dirt is going to be on the back wheel, around the drive train, and on the underside of your bicycle.
DEGREASE – spray degreaser on your drive train. Apply liberally to the chain, front chainrings, and rear freewheel/cassette gears. Applying this on a wet bike allows it to set-into the dirt that collects on your drive train. Take special note to not spray it into your drivetrain bearings such as the bottom bracket where your pedals pivot through, rear hub on your back wheel, or the rear derailleur pulley wheels. Our goals is to remove grease from the external components of your bike, not to remove the needed lubricants inside delicate components.
WASH – use your clean sponge or rag to liberally douse and scrub your bike frame from top to bottom with warm soapy water. Often forgotten places include under the seat, between the front and rear forks, brake pads and calipers (on bikes with hand brakes), and under the bottom bracket. Wash your tires, wheel, spokes, and hub. Use your old/dirty sponge to go over the chain to pull off the old gunk (it can be fairly dirty). Use more degreaser if needed at this point. Pay special attention to your front chain rings and rear gears to get in between them and remove the gunk. Pull off the dirt from your rear derailleur and pulleys (they tend to get caked in muck).
RINSE – spray down your bike again to remove all the soapy water and remaining dirt.
LUBRICATE – dry off your chain (it should look shiny and new). Apply chain lubricant per the manufacturer’s instructions (usually one drop per link, for the entire chain, then a quick wipe off of the excess after it has penetrated the chain). Consider lubricating your brake calipers but be careful to not get lubricant on your brake pads or braking surfaces.
TUNE-UP – if you want to go a step further take out your wheels (if you have quick release hubs) and inspect them for debris in the tires. Carefully remove/pick out any thorns or rocks that could later puncture your inner tubes. Inspect your brake pads for the same debris. Look for signs of wear on the pads or the brake surfaces and replace if needed.