The Basics of Keeping Your Bike Clean A clean bike makes cycling a more enjoyable experience

Keeping your bike in good working condition will keep you on the road longer and have you having more, and more efficient, fun. To get some tips on what to focus on as you approach bike cleaning and maintenance, we spoke with Andrew Hursh, a bike product specialist at Maxima Racing Oils.

Where is a great place to start with bike care?

Usually the first, most basic go-to item is some sort of chain lube. The chain is in constant motion when you are riding your bike. Like all moving parts it needs lubrication. It’s one of the easier things to maintain, and it pays dividends.

A bike is more enjoyable to ride when it is not squeaking, and it makes it more efficient. You are also trying to find a chain lube that offers good longevity, protection of the metals.

You can’t necessarily bring a rusty old chain back from the dead, but you can make it work a little better, and by using a chain lube from the start you can prevent that from happening. Chain lube is probably the most important and one of the easiest things for someone new to cycling to get into.

So maintenance is better than waiting for something to go wrong?

Exactly. And the next question is: How frequently do you need to lubricate a chain? It’s so dependent on conditions and types of riding. It can be as frequently as every time you ride or as infrequently as maybe once a month. It’s very dependent on mileage, frequency, weather conditions. All those things become factors.

Here in San Diego it hasn’t rained basically in six months. We get a situation where if you are riding on the roads it is so dusty and so dry the chains will actually pick up brake dust from cars. Whereas riding on your side of the country (East Coast) in the rain and the water, you’d want to get a different chain lube.

Here at Maxima we offer three different lubes for different conditions and wetness. 

So what is the process?

It’s always best to start with a nice clean chain. You are going to get better results. Cleaning the chain can be as simple as using a bike wash like our BioWash product. Spray it on the drive train, cycle the drive train a few times, spin the cranks backwards, take a microfiber towel and be sure to fully clean and dry the chain.

From there, apply the chain lube link by link. It can take a little practice to get good at it. You don’t want to apply too much, and if you do over-lubricate the chain just take a microfiber cloth and clean the excess off the sides.

You said link by link?

Exactly, one drop per roller. So, you have the rollers that hold the links together with rivets, and those rollers ride on the sprockets of the bicycle, so that’s where you want the lubrication to ride. There is really no need to put chain lubricant on the sprockets themselves. They pick it up off the chain rollers.

Once you get good at it, it can take as little as 30 seconds to lube your chain. It’s really quick and really comes with practice.

How important is keeping your bike clean in general?

It’s something that doesn’t have to be done every single ride, but if you stay on top of it it also helps you notice parts of your bike that you may be wearing. It forces you to take a little closer look at the bike and make sure everything is in good operating condition

Are there other parts that if you’re not cleaning it it will harm them?

Yeah, if you have disc brakes on your bike. If rotors are picking up sand and gravel it will increase the wear on the brake pads, and eventually the rotors themselves. If dirt and grime build up in your cranks, typically where there is a little grease in the assembly, you can get some unwanted noise which usually in turn relates to some unwanted wear.

A cleaner bike is always going to function a little better, smoother, and quieter than a bike that is getting some built up grime. It can be as simple as spreading BioWash directly on a microcloth fiber cloth and wiping down the frame and the forks and removing any light build up.

In the case of a really dirty, muddy bike, that is when you would want to spray the bike down with water initially then use a product like Biowash. You can spray it all over the entire bike. It’s a good safe product. Then thoroughly rinse. At that point you are going to want to dry the bike off with a towel, prevent any water spotting.

Any other care to get a good start at bike maintenance?

One of our top selling most popular products is called SC1. It’s affectionately known as “New Bike in a Can,” and that product helps protect the finish of the bike. Everything from the brake and shifter cables to the frame itself. Basically, the only place you don’t want to use it are the brakes and contact points—pedals and handlebars. 

But with those three products, chain lube, BioWash and S1, you can really do a great job of keeping your bike looking and performing great.