Bike Spa: Winter TLC for Your Bike

By Tori Bortman of Gracie’s Wrench

Like you, your bike gets run down in the winter grit and grime. All those nasty little bits of dirt and grime have worked into the nooks and crannies of your bike– which make them hard to reach without taking your whole bike apart.

And that black stuff all over your wheels, brake pads and frame? It’s the aluminum from your rims slowly breaking down. Every raindrop is encouraging it deeper into the creases of your bike. Not only does it get everywhere, but it can be a pain to remove.

Now, you could just use a spray degreaser and a rag, but the Spa Method will cut your cleaning time in half, do a more thorough job and not leave a pile of debris to clean up on your floor. When you’re done, simply wash those cares away.

The Spa Method works great year-round and is especially effective on bikes that like to play in the dirt.

Basic Spa Service

What you’ll need:
• A hose (or shower for those who can brave bringing their bikes in their bathrooms)
• A bucket of warm, soapy dish water
• Large, soft sponge like one used for washing a car
• A hand-held, large surfaced, medium bristled car washing brush or a smaller dish washing brush
• Rubber gloves if you’re working outside. Keeps your fingers toasty!
• A towel for drying
• Chain oil

1. Rinse your bike gently with the hose or shower to loosen the grime. Gentle pressure is the key. Do not use a high-powered or strong spray or you’ll risk ruining your bike’s bearings by forcing water and dirt where only grease belongs. This holds true for the entire process.
2. Working one section at a time, scrub your bike with the sponge or brush. Get your brush into where the tire meets the rim and all the other hard to clean spots. Rinse after each section.
3. You can clean your chain this way as well, but beware ruining your sponge or brush, and never wipe the rims with the same tool after using it on the chain or you may spread dirty grease to them.
4. After you’re done, pick up your bike a few inches off the ground and drop it a few times to help shake off the water.
5. Dry your bike off with the towel or rag. This is a great opportunity to hit spots the sponge couldn’t reach. Finish with your chain.
6. Oil your chain to prevent rust. Always remember to wipe the chain down completely after applying the fresh oil.

Extra Special Add-on Services

• Spray degreaser, a rag, old toothbrush or scrub brush
• For extra shine: Furniture polish or window cleaner
1. Take this opportunity to clean your whole drive train with spray degreaser and a brush. You can remove the rear wheel to clean the cassette (gears in back), clean the moving parts of your front and rear derailleurs. And even get into the nitty gritty of your chain.
2. Finishing touch: Spray your bike frame down with furniture polish or window cleaner. It not only makes it look swanky, but also works to prevent new dirt from accumulating as quickly.

Refreshed. Beautiful. Ready to roll.

Tori Bortman is ORbike’s resident bike mechanic. She is also an educator, consultant and the owner of Gracie’s Wrench. Tori’s new book, The Big Book of Cycling for Beginners, was recently published by Bicycling Magazine.

How do you stay warm and dry on your bike all winter long? We’re running an extensive series of articles with everyday cycling tips to help you #KeepRiding no matter what the elements throw our way. You can read the entire series here and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for even more cool ideas. Hash tag your posts #KeepRiding and inspire more people to ride their bikes this winter.

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