How to Clean a Mountain Bike
Want a clean mountain bike? Bike maintenance may not be the most exhilarating part of mountain biking, but knowing how to clean your mountain bike properly after a muddy ride is an absolute essential.
Cleaning your mountain bike can not only keep your rig riding smoother for longer, it can save you a whole lot of money in the process, and it means you can spend a few hours gazing longingly into that shiny frame of yours each night before going to bed.
You’ve bought your first mountain bike, got the gear and know how to dress for mountain biking, navigated the mountain bike wheel size debate and got it absolutely filthy. Now it’s time to learn how to clean it.
What you’ll need to clean mountain bike:
Of course, not all of these bike accessories are absolutely essential, but the more cleaning products you’ve got, the more prepared you’ll be for any eventuality when it comes to bike washing after a muddy ride!
- A dirty mountain bike
- A bike stand
- A big brush for the bike frame
- A smaller brush for the components
- A hose and/or a bucket of water and sponge
- Bike cleaner spray
- A cloth
- Bike lube
- Bike polish spray
- Disc brake cleaner spray
Step 1: Washing the Mountain Bike
Find a place to wash your bike, ideally with a bike stand and hose nearby - sometimes bike racks can come in useful here. This may be on hand at the entrance/exit to your local trail centre, or if not, your local bike shop should let you clean your bike for free.
Hose off all the excess dirt and mud but don’t stand too close to your bike with a high pressure hose or you could damage the components. If you don’t have a hose then a bucket and sponge will do just fine – they’ll just require a bit more graft – and even with the hose it’s good to run over the frame with water, a sponge and some bike cleaner afterwards. Make sure your keep the bike cleaner away from your disc brakes though or you could end up damaging them!
It’s also worth remembering, if the mud or dirt is already dried when you start cleaning your mountain bike, you’re going to need to get it wet again in order to get it off. Your tyres should be fine with just a quick hose and a brush.
Step 2: Get The Brushes Out
Once you’ve hosed or washed off all the basics, it’s time to get the brushes out. It’s a good idea to brush and clean from the top of your bike down so that you won’t be letting dirt fall onto parts of your bike that you’ve already washed.
Use a big brush for the frame to wipe away any remaining dust, and then use a smaller, finer brush to get in those smaller spots in the suspension and drivetrain – a term used to describe all of the parts that let you pedal the bike forwards; the chain, chainrings, cassette, derailleur, cranks and pedals – without damaging them.
Step 3: Clean Up Your Drivetrain and Suspension
Your chain and drivetrain in general need to be cleaned particularly well. Bike cleaner is good here for cutting through the grease and oil that can build up around the area. Make sure when cleaning that you get both sides of the chainrings and clean the cassette as well.
You should clean your suspension just as well – but again, don’t spray any bike cleaner on your brakes or they could wear away.
Step 4: Rinse
One of the easier parts of the bike maintenance process, rinse the bike off with some more water to complete the initial cleaning stage of the process! Huzzah!
Step 5: Dry Off the Bike
Next up, dry your bike off with a cloth, paying particular attention to get the drivetrain, components and suspension completely dry.
Step 6: Lubricate the Suspension
The part that you’ve all been waiting for. Get out that bike lube and get sensual with your ride. Take the bike off the stand and lube up your front suspension, making sure that you don’t let any of the lube trickle down to the brakes.
Pump the suspension a few times once you’ve finished and you might see an extra bit of grit emerge which you should wipe clear. Next, do the same for your rear shock absorber and wipe all clear excess lube well with a cloth. Leftover lube means your bike will be more likely to attract dirt next time around.
Step 7: Lubricate and Oil Up the Drivetrain
Now time to do the same for the drivetrain. First, back pedal the bike a few times to make sure all the water is gone. Add the lube to the chain while you continue to run the chain back. Oh, and did we mention you should avoid the disc brakes when you’re doing all of this? AVOID THE DISC BRAKES WHEN YOU’RE DOING ALL OF THIS.
Afterwards, get a cloth and backpedal the chain through it again to make sure there’s no excess lube on there, for the same reasons as previously mentioned.
Add some oil to each derailleur pivot point to finish off, something that should be done every few months at least. Stay. Away. From. The. Disc. Brakes. If you get lube on the disc brakes, you’ll probably need to go out and spend some money to get them fixed.
Step 8: The Disc Brakes
So, we’ve been shouting at you a lot throughout this article to keep all cleaning products away from your disc brakes. And we stand by that. So how exactly should you clean your brakes?
Truth be told, they should be alright with just a bit of water and a good dry, but if you’ve got some disc brake cleaner, that’s even better. Spray the stuff on, applying evenly over all areas, and then wipe off with the cloth afterwards.
Step 9: How to Clean Mountain Bike - The finish
Once it’s all washed, dried, cleaned and lubed up, you’re good to go! But, you can always spray some bike polish on the frame if you want your ride looking particularly flash.
Now, we know there are nine steps in this guide, but this process shouldn’t really take too long – especially once you’ve done it a couple of times. Never spend so long cleaning your bike that you’ll be anxious about getting it dirty again. A clean bike is great at home, but on the trails? A muddy ride is a happy one!