When I began triathlon, the bike portion had the steepest learning curve. Clipless pedals, integrated shifters, and tubular wheels were all new additions to my vocabulary.
Cleaning my bike was something I had to learn to do right away. My general rule of thumb is to clean my bike once a week or after a ride in the rain. Investing this 10-15 minutes may seem like overkill, but the bike will remain in better condition and it will last many more kilometers if it is clean.
I’m lucky to have some great partners to help me keep my bike clean. Motorex supplies me with my bike-specific lubes and cleaning products and Park Tool makes great tools and brushes. Here are the steps I use to help keep my bike clean.
Begin with spraying the bike down. Do not use a hose that has super high pressure and avoid constant spraying of the bearings and power meter.
Run the chain backwards and begin to spray degreaser on the chain, cassette, and chainrings. Degrease the chain before cleaning the rest of the bike (grease will fall off the chain and hit your bike). You will then clean the bike (with the grease on it) later.
Next use a stiff bristle brush and thoroughly brush the chain, cassette, and chainrings.
Do not forget to brush the back of the chain, this is always the dirtiest part.
Now, begin applying a cleaner to the frameset and wheels. Motorex Bike Clean works great for this.
Now, begin to scrub the frame. Remember that your frame/wheel brush should be different than the brush used for your drivetrain. You don't want to scrub chain lube all over your frame and wheels. Focus on the places you sweat. This will mostly be on your stem and top tube.
There will be many nooks and crannies on your bike. Make sure to get all of them.
Make sure to give your brake calipers a good scrub - don’t forget to do between the tire and under the brake, which can get very dirty.
Really scrub the wheels and tires, this is a perfect time to check for cuts in the tires and examine your brake pads.
Getting at the hubs is tricky.
Now it's time to hose the bike down. Keep the water moving and avoid a constant stream in one place. You don't want to strip the bearings of their grease.
Now find a dry rag to wipe down the chain. This will remove most of the water on the chain. You do not want to lube a wet chain as it will not absorb into the links of the chain as well.
Use a different clean rag to wipe the frame down of remaining water.
These are my go-to products for cleaning my bike:
Do not forget to lube your chain before your next ride!