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How to Wash a Bike

How to Wash a Bike

Calvin Jones here, Park Tool Company. In this repair help video we’re going to walk through a basic bike wash. Let’s begin with what we need for equipment. Hand protection is a really good idea, such
as the Mechanic’s Gloves from Park Tool. Next: some water. Just like doing dishes,
steamy good hot water. If you have multiple bikes to do, you’ll need lots of it. If you’re just doing the one bike, one bucket should do you. Rinse water is needed. If you have a hose you can use a nozzle – use a light spray. Here we don’t have that option; we’re actually going to use a water bottle spray and that’s all you really need. Other equipment is going to include the dummy hub: a very nice feature to help keep the solvent off the hub and the cassette. A gear brush, a holder for the solvent, solvent – chain cleaner solvent – such as ChainBrite from Park Tool, a series of brushes – this is the BCB-4.2. A large soft brush, what’s called a bottle brush, and this combination bristle and sponge brush. We have a chain cleaner, a large sponge
– a very good thing. Some soap – dish soap. Chain lube, and a light lube for our pivots, and
rags, a little workbench, a place to work so we’re ready to begin. As some preparation for our wash we need to be ready with our buckets. We’re going to begin with some soap. A good quality dish soap is important. In general don’t be shy with getting the soap in the bucket. Sponges are going to go in our wash bucket. Small sponge, large sponge, our brush, our bottle brush, this bristle sponge combination brush, not this brush. This gear brush is going to be for our solvent. We’re going to put some solvent in here. That is ready for later use. A plain water bottle is fine. We’re going to use this in our rinse water. You can even mark a bottle specifically as your rinse bottle if you do a lot of this so you’re not drinking out of it. This is going to be for spraying the bike – it
won’t over-douse the bike, it won’t blast out grease. It’ll be about the same as a rainstorm, which is not going to ruin your bike. So that’s our rinse water. We’re using an upright style clamp and we’re going to grab the seat post but before we grab anything, we’re going to wipe it down with the sponge. If this were gritty, we’d be grabbing on the anodizing with the grit. Also remember: occasionally clean out the jaws of the repair stand. That way there’s no grit in there to damage anything. For the cleanest and most detailed wash,
we’re actually going to pull both front and back wheels. On a quick wash, it’s really not necessary to pull both wheels, but to really get inside of things and to really inspect, it’s good to drop the wheels. For the rear wheel, we’re going to need to replace that sprocket with something like the dummy hub the DH-1 from Park Tool. This bike uses a thru axle, so we use the pulley wheel, the axle from the bike, and that’s taking the place of our cassette cog. We’re going to begin first with the drivetrain which is typically the dirtiest, nastiest part of the bike. We’re going to use a degreaser and a brush on the pulley wheels and the derailleurs and the chainrings first. after that we’re going to use a chain cleaner on the chain. So if the pulleys are really gunky, we’re coming through here brushing them, we may need to scrape them if they’re extremely filthy, we’ll do the top one… We can see the build-up that’s coming off –
I can scrape it if need be If these get very very caked with grit, grass and mud, it does not do a good job of guiding the chain to our different gears. So whatever needs brushing with the degreaser now we’re doing it. We would move forward then to the front We can do the chainring, get it looking good. Come to
the inside, brush it, brush the small ring if necessary and here I’m trying to brush from below, avoiding having the degreaser come down into our bearings so try and avoid that whenever you can. The front derailleur, we would brush with
degreaser if it was needing it, inside the linkages, whatever was needed. Next we’re going to use a chain cleaner
such as the CM-5.2 from Park Tool. This one engages the chain, it runs through the brushes. An important part of this is how we hold it. We need to hold it so that we’re guiding the chain straight to the front ring. If we twist the tool, it’s going to take the chain off the front ring, so this effectively becomes the guide pulley. so we are going to install – make sure the chain is down in the large brush Install the top cap, close the lid we’re now going to fill with solvent. Come up at least to the fill line and we pedal backwards. The chain is passing through a series of brushes and a sponge as it exits. About a minute of that is fine – that looks much, much better. Disengage and drop it. Used solvent should be stored in an appropriate container. The dirt and contaminates will settle to the bottom, and the top can be poured off for later reuse. For disposal, check with your local authorities. We’re going to follow up with a different solvent – we’re going to follow up with just soapy water as a second rinse. Again we backpedal, it’s going to help remove any of the small gritty pieces that may be left in the chain. So after cleaning the chain and doing a second soapy rinse, we can see that chain is pretty darn clean. We’ll now move on to the components using our soapy water and our brushes. So this brush would be useful for the derailleur –
we come on back, we scrub it up and also the frame. Come to the front and the pedals. We need the other side and we can also inspect as we go. We notice here – missing a zip-tie so we make a mental note: need a zip-tie. The large sponges are quite useful not just for the washing, but also as a reservoir for our brush. The brush is nice, bristles get in there nicely, but they run out of water so here we can just supply more suds to our brushes. This is a caliper disc brake. We’re using some gentle soapy water to wash it. It’s not going to contaminate the
pads – we’re going to rinse it afterwards – so you don’t need to pull the brake pads in this case. These tight areas are getting hard to get to.
The large mop head style doesn’t fit. We’re going to switch tools – we’re going to use a bottle brush. That gets inside of there nicely. Very good. Brush brush brush. and from the top and the saddle – up under the saddle where the mud comes. Seat post there, I’m using the sponge This one has a bristle side. It also has a more aggressive side So if there’s something chrome or something that’s
really hard metal that needs some real scrubbing you can use the aggressive side of that brush. A place we actually want to avoid scrubbing is the shift levers themselves. The mechanical levers have little grease and oils in the palls and the mechanisms you can flush that out with too much washing, it’s hard to get the lubrication back in. So electronic shifting, not a big deal, but the mechanical, we’re not going to scrub hard on those mechanisms. Everything’s clean – it’s time to rinse. We’re going to rinse, if you were to use a water hose, use a very fine mist – do not blast things on the rinse! Again, a water bottle is a good way to go. It provides plenty of force. The brushing is what loosens the dirt, this just gets the dirt off. So we’re going from the top downward on our rinse. There we are. That water is coming up clear – very clean. We rinse out the brake shoes basically a gentle rain. There we are. Last process: Spin that quickly – helps fling the water off. Done. Next, we’re going to clean our wheels. With our gear brush & solvent we’re going to scrub the cogs. Here I’m going to tilt the cogs downward to help prevent any wayward solvent getting inside the freehub. Rather than tilt it this way, we’re gonna tilt it like this. There’s going to be sometimes dirt packed down tight between the cogs. We’re going to use the comb part of the brush to get down inside and scrape that out loosen that up to get that out of there. That junk down inside tends to push the chain upward and cause bad shifting, so let’s remove that. Next, we’re going to come in with our little bristle brush. It’s gonna help remove the solvent,
make those shiny and pretty. We can clean inside the hub there with our bottle brush. That’s going to come in between nicely. The big brushes aren’t going to fit in here so we’re using the bottle brush to get that clean. It also can reach even down in here and get that nice and clean. Again, we’re introducing some soap here to this mechanism, but we’re going to flush it with water It’s not going to be a problem for our braking. Outside clean the rim here, use the large brush come around on the other side, the same if it’s extremely dirty, you may need a small sponge to go in between each spoke to get it clean. Also the tread is good to clean. Makes a complete good looking machine. Lastly is a rinse – we start at the top, the hub, the rotor and then the other side. A little spin helps get off the water – ready to go. Now we want to look at the drivetrain. You want to see that it’s really dry – we can take a good cotton shop rag we can get that dry, you can also let it
air dry, but we’ve gotta remember to come through and lubricate the chain. We’ve taken the previous lubrication out with the solvent, we need to put it back. We’re going to leave the dummy hub in place and lubricate before we put the wheel in. In that case we’re not spraying any excess oil all over the rest of the cogs or any braking surfaces. So we’re going to find the master link, if this chain has one. We’re going to lubricate across, when we come back to our master link we know we’re done. Typically three to four revolutions is what it takes. So here, we’re going to do the slow lubrication method – one roller at a
time. This way we’re not over-lubricating, making a huge mess, and more importantly we’re able to sight each and every rivet and each and every roller as we go to see if there’s a bent plate, a burr, a twist, a bad rivet, and know if it’s a chain with integrity. This is riveting stuff. we’re back to our master link we give that a spin, work that lubrication in, take a rag, and wipe it out. Lubrication on the outside simply attracts dirt. It’s the lube on the inside that does us some good. Ready for the rear wheel. The bike can now just air dry just sitting there on its own. Fine. It is nice to take a cotton towel or
rag and then dry things off. That does a couple of things in addition. If we missed any spots like on this fork here, we can get those, but most importantly, as we wipe we should inspect. We can look at the welds, we can look for any loose fittings, we can look at all the joints, and really get to know the machine so
wiping it down – certainly not a bad idea. Bike’s clean and ready to go. and that’s the basic procedure for cleaning the bike. Thank you for washing.

100 comments on “How to Wash a Bike

  1. i do my bikes in the basement so i cant use water, so i just spray wd40 on all of the bike and wipe it gets clean and shiny 🙂

  2. If you want to wash your bike using park tool products it’s most likely going to cost you your yearly salary just to do it once.

  3. Trust Calvin…He was schooling us tech mechanics at the OTC for decades long before Park created all the wash gizmos.

  4. Make sure you fill the cables and bottom bracket with plenty of water and soap suds. This will ensure they will seize up on your next outing. Make sure the bearings in your Cris King hubs and headset get a thorough dousing as well. Three additional methods approved by Park Tool for cleaning your bike in a pinch are: 1) Attach bike to roof rack and drive 100mph through a downpour.  2) After finishing your mountain biking adventure simply submerge bike in nearest lake or river until all the bubbles stop surfacing. Now you know the bike is clean inside and out. 3) Order new bike.

  5. I would love to thrash my bike and bring it to work on Monday for Calvin to clean it…and shoot video so I could make sure he didn’t miss a spot.

  6. What if you can't afford, at least not right away, all the stuff you need to wash a bike? How can you give it a poor man"s wash? Do you have to remove the tires or is there a way to clean without doing that? HOW OFTEN should you wash a bike?

  7. I just use a pressure washer and have done for 20 years with no problems as long as you do not go to close its fine.

  8. No, this is so wrong. Who needs all these tools? I clean my bike after each and every ride using a water hose, a partly clean rag and oil. That's it. It is clean and I can drive without the slightest sound. This video is funny though. 😉

  9. KMC (chains) maintenance guide states: "Try to avoid a so-called ‘chain washing machine’ in combination with solvent. This will instantly ruin your chain." Who is right? – people selling solvent/washing machines or the chain manufacturer?

  10. For used solvent disposal, dump it in the drain of your local car wash or gas station. You're welcome.

  11. Counterpoint to drying off with a rag: Any residual dirt particles are dragged along, making fine scratches in the paint.

  12. I took my Trek 850 Antelope to Car Wash/Pressure Spray today and got NOWHERE near these results.
    I guess I will ask you guys first next time

  13. The pressure washer does my bikes fine, never had one complaint from any of my bikes 🙂 🙂 This Dudes just a salesman for park tool's.

  14. I just watched this to bring myself down from a panic attack. Worked like a charm. I also know now how to properly wash my bike. Thanks Park Tool!

  15. I strongly disagre cuz to wash a bike you need a hose,a wall to stand your bike upright,one bucket with two kitchen sponges,car soap and a wet towel to clean your chain.

  16. And I thought, that The bike wash is easy every one can do. Nope, you need to see this… Actually Calvin can make bikewash video only enjoyeble!

  17. I wouldn’t been doing a cleaning using solvents and degreasers on that beautiful lawn. Spill any of that solvent on that grass and you’ve got nice burn spots and dead grass.

  18. My Park Tool Gear Clean Brush handle is too thick to get between the cogs. They are too close together..Do you make one that is perhaps thinner with the jagged edges? Love this wash technique. Come over and do my E-bike and I will get you some great Italian food! LOL! Cheers!

  19. unsubbed so that i could resub just because he said "thank you for washing" at the end. and "this is riveting" lol.

  20. Amazing video. I'm in my late 50's and I worked on cars and airplanes, but I never really knew there was proper way to wash a bike. I've always old schooled it by slopping soap all over it, blasting it with a water hose and overlubed the chain with too much oil. I've even recently purchased a Park Tool maintenance stand, and the home mechanic tool set and dummy hub. I'm living proof that old dogs can be taught new tricks…🤣

  21. Can I get away with lightly hosing down my bike (being careful where my bearings are of course) without having to re-lube my chain? Can chain lube stay on a chain after being hosed lightly? I intend on lightly spraying my bike with a hose after every ride or so just to help keep from build up occurring and only resorting to a more thorough cleaning like this when necessary after more dirty trail rides.

  22. Another excellent vid. I didn't think I'd have a lot to learn about washing a bike, but you hit every detail, and I made note of some ways to improve my washing. Thanks?

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