Cleaning Your Bike In The Winter (Or A Physical Manifestation Of My Shame)

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 09

Jay left this comment:

“Any advice for a fool that left his bike in the snow? (Cleaning wise, anyways)”

In an effort to answer Jay’s questions I present my own bicycle as an example…the shame burns.

I have become one of those people with a rusty creaking chain…I hang my head.

So last night I gathered up my pride and a damp towel and started in on the beast. After 10 minutes and the removal of both wheels (more on that in a later post) My bike looked like this.

My Method:

Damp towel + elbow grease + liberal amounts of chain lube = clean bike.

I wipe down the entire frame, wipe down the rims, the hubs, the cranks etc. Then I apply a lot of lube to the chain, and wipe the chain down, apply more lube, wipe, repeat till chain looks like metal again, then lube liberally and wipe once more.

What I Do Not Do:

Spray water on my bike. Spraying water can drive it into places you do not want it, especially in the winter where it will freeze/rust things you care about.

Work outside. Its just too damn cold, the damp rag method seems to work just fine cleaning it inside.

Worry about getting it perfect. If you look you will see plenty of dirty left on the bike, I just try to knock off most of it. Its just going to snow again next week, so I am not getting out the tooth brush.

In a perfect world I would do this wipe down every day, but as well know the world is not perfect, and often when you come home from a hairy snow day commute the last thing you want to do is wipe down your bike. So I try to knock back the horrible at least once or twice a month. Having an aluminum bike helps.

I hope these tips help you reduce your own shame at having a filthy bike in the winter.

Feel free to leave any tips for winter bike cleaning in the comments.


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Posted in bostonbiker, education | 3 Comments »


3 Responses to “Cleaning Your Bike In The Winter (Or A Physical Manifestation Of My Shame)”

  1. By Dan Achibald on Feb 9, 2011 | Reply

    Ha ha, I poured hot water on my bike yesterday evening to try and clear some of the gross salty slush off my brakes and rear hub. This morning my rear brake was frozen solid, and my chain took a little work before it was thawed enough to run smoothly. Let that be a lesson to me!

  2. By Jamie on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    I keep a toilet brush in my bike bag. It’s great for knocking off the crap after a messy ride, without having to roll my sleeves up. I do it before bringing the bike inside, so I don’t spray my apartment with dirty street water.

  3. By dave on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    one good thing to remember is to clean the brake pads, if you run brakes of course, as grime, salt bits and rim bits can get embedded into the pads and rip up your rims in no time. Akin to cleaning behind the ears i guess.

    Rock&Roll oil is amazing for bringing that chain back to life.

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