Wash Bike
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How To Wash Your Bike ~

Mountain Bike Magazine, March 2002



With Water ~

Mike Naperlusky has been a full-time mechanic for the Volvo/Cannondale team for four years. His role is to prep both the cross-country and downhill rigs for such world-class athletes as Cadel Evans and Anne-Caroline Chausson. In other words, he knows a thing or two about how to apply tender loving care to dirtied-up mountain bikes, We chased Naperlusky down at the World Championships in Vail to get his best tips on how to get your mountain bike clean - using water.

BEFORE WASHING. "The best part of my day is when I get to wash a bike. It's my private time with the bike when I'm able to inspect it closely. Before I wash a bike, I apply Pedro's Oranj Peelz degreaser on the chain. I avoid spraying any part of the bike with direct water pressure, and I always take extra precautions with the bike's electronics. We use silicone around the water-bottle mounts to help prevent water from seeping into the frame. You can use soap and water, but I use Pedro's degreaser with the cross-country bikes. On DH bikes, I use straight water and Pro-Clean, which is a motorcycle cleanser that won't affect the disc-brake pads. We run carbon seatposts, so that's the first part of the bike I wash. That way, when I put the bike in the bike stand, it won't get scratched."

 BRUSH GENTLY, "I use a sponge to wash down the frame, but the dirtier parts of the bike definitely need a brush, especially if you want to do the job right. My personal favorite is the Pedro's Big Brush. I use two brushes on the wheels: one for the chain and cogs and one for the rims and hubs. If you're running fork boots, it's a good idea to squeeze them to eject any water that might be inside."

The Finishing Touches. "Lastly, make sure you dry the whole bike off - don't let it sit wet. I wipe the bike down right after I clean it with a clean, dry cloth, and then always lube the chain. I never bother lubing the cables because we replace them every two weeks. I've been washing bikes with water for years and I've never had a problem. Remember, a clean bike is the first step to having a well-maintained bike."



Without Water ~

Don Cook has been a product tester for Shimano since 1983, is one of the fabled Skunk Development riders, is co-director of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, and has tested product for Ritchey, Answer/Manitou and CamelBak. Here, he tells you why he prefers to wash his bike without water and how he does it.

ENTER DIRT. "Back in the late '7Os, there were no sealed bearings on the bike. Everything we were using came from road bikes, which weren't exposed to the dirt and grime the way mountain bikes are. So we started thrashing these components when we washed the bikes with water because everything got into the bearings (most people don't realize that, when they're hosing off their bike, the water is picking up dirt, and this fine grit is running into areas and bearings that are supposedly sealed).

THE BRUSH OFF. "So I started buying kitchen cleaning brushes. They're cheap and portable. After a ride, I'd let the dirt dry for a couple hours and then take the brushes and clean the bike in the same amount of time it took with water. I still clean my bike that.way today--here's howl do it."



Kitchen scrub brush with nylon bristles (about 6" long by 3" wide)


Tube brush with nylon bristles (long, narrow, round brush that looks like a small bottle brush) 


Tile and grout brush with nylon bristles (about 1/2" wide)


Paint and rust remover brush with wire bristles (about 11" long by 2.5" wide)



1. After a ride, let the bike sit until the mud dries.

2. Start from the top of the bike with the bottle brush in one hand and the tile and grout brush in the other. With these brushes, get all the nooks and crannies: in and around the shifters and brake levers and underneath the seat, the seatpost, the seat cluster, the brakes, the head tube, the head badge, the front derailleur and the rear derailleur.

3. Take the big nylon brush and start wailing anywhere lots of dirt and mud gathers - the down tube, the fork crown, the fork legs, the bottom bracket shell.

4. Once the majority of the dirt is off, it's time for the drivetrain. Put the other brushes aside and pick up the wire brush. Start by scrubbing the inside and outside of the chainrings.

5. This step should be done while spinning the cranks backward. Go to where the chain comes off the lower derailleur pulley. Hold the brush against the chain and scrub all four sides. Then move up to the cassette, and feather the brush back and forth across it. Finally, hit both sides of the pulleys. Lube the chain and you're done.

Note; Every climate is different when it comes to this brush cleaning. There are some types of mud that will cake like they're made with a 3M adhesive. In this case, you're going to need some water to break the mud up. It's best to use warm, soapy water in a bucket. Dip these same brushes in the bucket and remove it that way, rather than hosing the bike or the mud off.