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Cleaning a bike after a commute

LukeTCLukeTC Posts: 211
edited January 2017 in Commuting general
I just had my bike given the once over (recently started up cycling for leisure and commuting in June) and had to have quite a bit of work carried out to get it back into shape, namely from what I can gather the usual culprits i.e. new cassette, chain, bottom bracket etc. Now being a bit of a newbie I never really quite realised the signs of when things were starting to need looking at and having done 2000 miles this year with very little maintenance (or much to my own naivety, cleaning) done on my part I decided to ask the LBS what I could do to hopefully save myself some money and give my components a bit of extra life. The general consensus was that I should try in bad conditions like we're having now to wash my bike after every ride, however as the bike has become my main method of transport to get to work, and I work in an office building with no access to an outside water source I'm wondering how other people deal with similar situations?

As it stands I use some blue roll to dry off the frame as best I can and then use a computer air duster to try and blow any gack that's accumulated in and around the drivetrain as best I can. I just wondered if there was a better way or if it's even worth doing? I now give the bike a decent clean each evening when I get home so I'm not sure if I've gone a complete 180 from not doing enough to perhaps doing more than is necessary.

Any help would really be appreciated lol.

Posts

  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    I think every night is over kill unless your bike is absolutely filthy.

    I do mine once a week at the weekend, basic soap and water wash down, dry and relube check components, re inflate tyres and plug all the lights in
  • figbatfigbat Posts: 680
    The road bike gets a wipe-down after a wet ride, with a wash/dry/re-lube every "so often".

    The MTB gets hosed down when I can't read the decals any more.
    Cube Reaction GTC Pro 29 for the lumpy stuff
    Cannondale Synapse alloy with 'guards for the winter roads
    Fuji Altamira 2.7 for the summer roads
    Trek 830 Mountain Track frame turned into a gravel bike - for anywhere & everywhere
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    LukeTC wrote:
    I just had my bike given the once over (recently started up cycling for leisure and commuting in June) and had to have quite a bit of work carried out to get it back into shape, namely from what I can gather the usual culprits i.e. new cassette, chain, bottom bracket etc. Now being a bit of a newbie I never really quite realised the signs of when things were starting to need looking at and having done 2000 miles this year with very little maintenance (or much to my own naivety, cleaning) done on my part I decided to ask the LBS what I could do to hopefully save myself some money and give my components a bit of extra life. The general consensus was that I should try in bad conditions like we're having now to wash my bike after every ride, however as the bike has become my main method of transport to get to work, and I work in an office building with no access to an outside water source I'm wondering how other people deal with similar situations?

    As it stands I use some blue roll to dry off the frame as best I can and then use a computer air duster to try and blow any gack that's accumulated in and around the drivetrain as best I can. I just wondered if there was a better way or if it's even worth doing? I now give the bike a decent clean each evening when I get home so I'm not sure if I've gone a complete 180 from not doing enough to perhaps doing more than is necessary.

    Any help would really be appreciated lol.

    After every ride is a major pain and I can't really see it should be needed or desirable. Have you got full mudguards on? If you have, have you got a flap on the front guard that goes down close to the ground? This will keep the majority of muck off your chain/chainset which will extend the lifespan (as well as keeping you drier). If you replace your chain before it gets too worn, you can also save the cassette and chainrings from premature wear. How often do you lube your chain?

    I have to ask, what value really is there in drying the frame and does the air duster do anything meaningful? Chains wear out from the inside so keeping it lubed is 90% of the battle. I tend to do a full clean (strip the drive train back to silver metal and re-lube) or do nothing apart from re-apply some lube.
  • LukeTCLukeTC Posts: 211
    Alex99 wrote:
    After every ride is a major pain and I can't really see it should be needed or desirable. Have you got full mudguards on? If you have, have you got a flap on the front guard that goes down close to the ground? This will keep the majority of muck off your chain/chainset which will extend the lifespan (as well as keeping you drier). If you replace your chain before it gets too worn, you can also save the cassette and chainrings from premature wear. How often do you lube your chain?

    I have to ask, what value really is there in drying the frame and does the air duster do anything meaningful? Chains wear out from the inside so keeping it lubed is 90% of the battle. I tend to do a full clean (strip the drive train back to silver metal and re-lube) or do nothing apart from re-apply some lube.

    Re: Mudguards I have a set of Crud Roadracer mk3s on at the mo, had to cut the front off the front one as I didn't have the clearance under my calipers for it but it wasn't something I had on before the service so that was probably a big contribution to the trashed drivetrain. Must admit it does seem to be doing a good job of keeping the censored off my chain. As for lubing I was doing after each wash (so daily) but as I'm starting to see that might be overkill I'm assuming I can probably cut down that too.

    With regards to the air duster it does actually do a half decent job at blowing the majority of rubbish out of the cassette on wetter days without having a brush or something at work to do it. But alas, like I said before, it would seem in my state of paranoia (and not wanting another hefty bill in 6 months time) that I've gone completely overboard and probably need to stop worrying so much :lol:
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    I go over the bike once a week, if the chain doesn't need lube it doesn't get one.

    That' said if it's particularly wet/salty I will check the chain lube status every day, but that's the only thing.
  • pfnshtpfnsht Posts: 22
    I do as others on my commuter - clean it once a week (sometimes biweekly). This includes a soapy (car wash) wipe down of the frame and components and re-lube. I do 200-300k a week on it and it's sometimes filthy and I was surprised to see some surface rust on the chain when I left cleaning it for 3 weeks.

    I'm relativity new to the mechanical side of things, although did build my commuter from scratch 5 months ago, but I don't really know what to look for when components are wearing out yet.

    I must fit my mudguards after reading above too! Sadly I purchased a frame without mounts so have had to buy the ones that are for bikes without mounts. They seemed a bit of faff when I last tried to affix them.
  • pfnshtpfnsht Posts: 22
    The Rookie wrote:
    I go over the bike once a week, if the chain doesn't need lube it doesn't get one.

    That' said if it's particularly wet/salty I will check the chain lube status every day, but that's the only thing.

    maybe the wrong place to ask and maybe a silly question - how do you know if it needs lube? I apply weekly (usually) and always leave it for a bit and wipe of excess as I've heard about it accumulating to sticky gritty paste if you put too much on.

    Cheers
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    After every commute is really OTT.

    If the roads have been gritted I'd hose it down if i could.

    Lately ive been just using gt85 on the chain and running it through a rag with it on frequently. No chance to form a grinding paste like that.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    pfnsht wrote:
    The Rookie wrote:
    I go over the bike once a week, if the chain doesn't need lube it doesn't get one.

    That' said if it's particularly wet/salty I will check the chain lube status every day, but that's the only thing.

    maybe the wrong place to ask and maybe a silly question - how do you know if it needs lube? I apply weekly (usually) and always leave it for a bit and wipe of excess as I've heard about it accumulating to sticky gritty paste if you put too much on.

    Cheers

    I go on if it looks dry and how it sounds. Listen for the sound of the chain when you turn the pedals backwards after lubing, then do the same after rides. A dry chain sounds different, more metallic/louder. As others have said, in the dry, one lubing can last a while, in the wet, it can be an every ride job.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    pfnsht wrote:
    I do as others on my commuter - clean it once a week (sometimes biweekly). This includes a soapy (car wash) wipe down of the frame and components and re-lube. I do 200-300k a week on it and it's sometimes filthy and I was surprised to see some surface rust on the chain when I left cleaning it for 3 weeks.

    I'm relativity new to the mechanical side of things, although did build my commuter from scratch 5 months ago, but I don't really know what to look for when components are wearing out yet.

    I must fit my mudguards after reading above too! Sadly I purchased a frame without mounts so have had to buy the ones that are for bikes without mounts. They seemed a bit of faff when I last tried to affix them.

    Yes, the can be. If you've got enough space between you brakes and the tyres, you still have a chance of fitting full guards using adapters that you can get that fit to the wheel quick releases and provide an attachment point. The clip on ones also tend not to be very long, so the drivetrain still gets a spray from the front wheel. A few times I've improvised an extra flap for the front using some sheet rubber of a plastic bottle. The downside is that it can look a bit A-team. You can also buy add on flaps for some guards.

    Regarding how to spot wear... the chain is a good place to start. Get a 12 inch ruler and measure 12 links. Better do this from new so you know where it started at. Should be bang on 12", but might vary slightly. Think you're supposed to change the chain when it gets to 12+1/16". If it gets closer to 12+ 1/8", then you're probably replacing cassette and rings too. With modern profiled teeth, it can be hard to see when a cassette and chainrings are worn. You might take a photo of the new items to compare to down the line I guess. Generally, though, 1 set of chainrings, 5 cassettes, 10 chains, or something like that. Also depends on how many gears you use, so it's possible that you wear out a few gears faster then others. Other bits, if you have cup and cone type hubs, it's worth doing a preventative maintenance at least once a year. Cartridge bearing hubs, you just use until the bearings go rough.
  • pfnshtpfnsht Posts: 22
    Thanks Alex, that's great information.

    Cheers
    Matt
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Alex99 wrote:
    pfnsht wrote:
    The Rookie wrote:
    I go over the bike once a week, if the chain doesn't need lube it doesn't get one.

    That' said if it's particularly wet/salty I will check the chain lube status every day, but that's the only thing.

    maybe the wrong place to ask and maybe a silly question - how do you know if it needs lube? I apply weekly (usually) and always leave it for a bit and wipe of excess as I've heard about it accumulating to sticky gritty paste if you put too much on.

    Cheers

    I go on if it looks dry and how it sounds. Listen for the sound of the chain when you turn the pedals backwards after lubing, then do the same after rides. A dry chain sounds different, more metallic/louder. As others have said, in the dry, one lubing can last a while, in the wet, it can be an every ride job.
    This.....
  • drshoedrshoe Posts: 27
    I find once a week more than enough. I also found a chain cleaner a great investment, takes 5 mins to clean the chain (usually do it twice) and relube, probably the best thing you can do to prolong your component life. The rest of the bike can stay dirty as far as I care.
  • My LBC recommends running two chains on commuters.

    One on the bike and one being cleaned/soaking in oil. Instead of oiling the one on the bike, swap them over.

    Asides from having a really well oiled chain, the theory goes that a worn out chain wears out teeth, a fresh one doesn't so much.

    Going to give it a go and see how long I can put up with swapping chains.
  • greenamex2 wrote:
    My LBC recommends running two chains on commuters.

    One on the bike and one being cleaned/soaking in oil. Instead of oiling the one on the bike, swap them over.

    Asides from having a really well oiled chain, the theory goes that a worn out chain wears out teeth, a fresh one doesn't so much.

    Going to give it a go and see how long I can put up with swapping chains.

    What sort of oil did they advise soaking in?
  • That is a jolly good question, and one that occurred to me today when I was washing my bike today. Will check up with them.

    Got my new spare ready, with quick link.

    Measured the current/original one...currently not even 0.5% stretched yet in 500 miles of mud so probably a good time to swap over.
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