Mountain Biking and Mountain Bikes for Africa









Mountain Bike Wash



A mountain bike wash is the best thing you can do for your bike and is 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 which results is wear and tear, so a clean bicycle makes it quicker and faster. This is especially true for mountain bikes because they obviously get a lot dirtier a lot quicker than other bicycles.  It should not take more than 15 minutes to do a decent mtb bike wash and maybe a bit longer for a full valet.

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 ends up slowing down the washing process. So go off to you local supermarket and buy the following to wash your bike:

  • Medium bucket for some soapy water to soak the brushes
  • Big soft brush - dust pan brush with soft bristles - you must get soft ones because the harder ones tend to leave light scratch marks on your frame. This is your main brush to be used most of the time all over, except for the really 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 mountain bikes

  1. Spray some degreaser or strong detergent on the cassette, chain and chain rings
  2. Use the chain cleaning tool with degreaser or paraffin to clean the chain
  3. While 1 and 2 are soaking prepare a bucket of soapy solution, dish washing liquid works well
  4. 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
  5. Use the  small hard brush for the cassette, chain rings and even the chain if you don't have a chain cleaner.
  6. Use the bottle brush on the hubs and spokes.
  7. Now get the hose pipe and spray the bike off. It should be sparkly clean with no sign of dirt.
  8. 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, rather ride it a bit after washing to make sure that there is no trapped water that will cause rusting during storage
  • Quickly wash off your dirty bike 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

Bike washing links

Pro bike wash
Bike washing and cleaning - the Park Tool way



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