Road Cycling

Rules of the Road | Why You Should Wash Your Bike After Every Ride

If you're not keeping your bike clean, you're hurting it. Here's why...

Every cyclist can appreciate the benefits of a brand new bike, with a frame that sparkles in the sunlight and components that run silently, smoothly and efficiently.

But it doesn’t take long for that shop-fresh feeling to fade – especially here in the UK, when the weather will often work against you. And it doesn’t matter if you have the best waterproof jacket, grippiest tyres or brightest lights – if you don’t take care of your bike, the elements will soon begin to get the better of it.

“If you don’t take care of your bike, the elements will soon begin to get the better of it”

It might sound like a chore, but with the right kit, it doesn’t need to be. Here’s why you should clean your bike after every ride – and an easy fix to make sure you can get the job done as quickly as possible.

You Will Prolong the Life of Your Components

Your discs (if you have them) and drivetrain are right in the firing line for mud flicking up from the road. Photo: Chris Johnson

The UK’s changeable weather conditions can make life difficult for your bike, not least from autumn through to spring, when rain, mud, grit and grime combine to cake your pride and joy in the kind of thick, grinding paste that can quickly eat into components – particularly the drivetrain.

As a result, it’s important to stay on top of maintenance to avoid the kind of day-to-day wear and tear that can leave you with a hefty bill to repair or replace parts. On top of that, keeping your bike clean will help to avoid the creaks and squeaks that can ruin the tranquillity of any ride.

Your Drivetrain Will Be More Efficient

There’s no point busting a gut on climbs if your bike is too filthy to run smoothly. Photo: Chris Johnson

Your drivetrain – that is to say the chainset, chain, cassette, and front and rear derailleurs – bear the brunt of bad weather as they are in the direct firing line of the all the muck kicked up from the road. Therefore, it’s particularly key to keep your drivetrain clean – not just to prolong the life of the components, but to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible. After all, it’s the drivetrain converting your effort into speed.

A grime-covered drivetrain will create additional friction, so if you’re chasing a Strava segment, trying to win the club run sprint, or just want to ride as quickly – and efficiently – as possible, keeping your components clean will give you a headstart.

You Will be the Envy of the Club Run

A beautifully clean bike will turn heads every time. Photo: Chris Johnson

If you’ve spent a significant amount of money on a bike – or even if you haven’t, and it’s a machine with particular sentimental value – it’s fair to say you will want it looking as good as possible. Every cyclist should take pride in their equipment.

Not only that, but if you have the cleanest, quietest and smartest bike on the club run, you’ll be the envy of your fellow riders.

So What Can You Do?

The Kärcher OC3 (shown here with the extra bike box attached) fits easily into the boot of a car without taking up much space. Photo: Chris Johnson

With all that in mind, what can you do to keep your bike as clean as possible? The most obvious thing to do is wash your bike regularly – but it needn’t take hours of elbow grease at the end of a hard ride when you’re more concerned about downing a cup of coffee and slice of cake.

Portable cleaners like the Kärcher OC3 make the job easy. There’s no need to worry about the water pressure damaging your bike as it’s a relatively gentle five bar (in fact, it’s even soft enough to be used on dogs). But it still has a high enough rate of flow to wash away all the mud accumulated from a ride.

The bike box add on contains a brush attachment which makes cleaning components and hard to reach areas easier. Photo: Chris Johnson

On top of that, it’s truly portable so can be kept in the boot of your car if you’re travelling to a sportive or race, with a detachable four-litre water tank that can be easily filled up before your ride. It comes with an in-built lithium-ion battery and features a 2.8m spiral hose with flat and cone-spray nozzles.

There’s an additional bike box you can buy with extra hose attachments, like a brush for moving parts, that clips easily onto the bottom of the unit. It’s a seriously nifty bit of kit, and it’ll make cleaning your bike a breeze, ready to tackle your next ride.

These are proper Kärcher conditions – the kind of days where you need to be packing a portable cleaner. Photo: Chris Johnson
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