How to clean the bike (… and the saddle)

Tips&Go

A clean bike works better and lasts longer. This isn’t a slogan for a brand of detergent, but rather the pure and simple truth.

And when you come back from a ride, the sooner you clean it, the better. Let’s not let laziness and negligence get the better of us: cleaning our bike is the first step in maintaining it, keeping it in efficient and good working order: during cleaning we are practically “forced” to inspect each component close-up, checking its wear and thus quickly noticing any potential problems, stopping them in their tracks.

Especially in the case of Mountain Bikes, it’s normal for mechanical parts such as the chain, dérailleur and sprockets to get muddy, but for best performance and smoothness it’s best to always keep them clean and lubricated. Not to mention the fact that dust and soil perform an abrasive action on all moving parts: proper and regular cleaning will therefore prevent premature wear.
Another rule of common sense that should be followed involves thoroughly cleaning the bike before it undergoes any repairs: adjustments will be easier to perform and more accurate in the absence of grease or dirt residue.

All cleaning operations must nonetheless be performed with care and attention, using the right products, so as not to risk seriously damaging any parts.

Patience and elbow grease

Many of the bike’s “mobile” components such as hubs, bottom bracket, steering etc., work thanks to ball bearings protected by watertight gaskets. However it’s one thing to “protect” against rainwater, and quite another to resist against pressurised jets. It’s therefore best to avoid power tools such as high-pressure cleaners or compressors, which many tend to opt for due to their practicality and speed in washing and drying.

Rather it’s best to arm ourselves with good intentions, soft cloths and non-aggressive detergents, and plenty of elbow grease.

What to do

If the bike is especially dirty, it should first be roughly washed down with a bucket of warm water and a wet sponge.

After this, the next step involves properly degreasing the transmission: cogset chain, chainring, pulleys, etc., which all tend to collect dirt like there’s no tomorrow.

Avoid household solvents such as benzene or similar, opting instead for a special spray degreaser. Turn the pedals so that the spray penetrates the “gears”, leave it to work for a few minutes, then using a soft brush – and with lots of patience – scrub all the elements to remove the dirt, getting into each space between the sprockets; an old toothbrush can be used for the chain.

Once finished, rinse all the parts well with a wet sponge, but even a nice bucket of water will do the job…

For the frame and other parts such as the wheels and spokes, you can use a delicate degreaser, or even better a solution of warm water and Marseille soap, and a soft cloth.

For drying, as mentioned earlier it is best to avoid using a compressor, but nor should the bike be left in the sun: for the best outcome, it’s best to use a cloth like those used to wash your car, which soak up the water and polish at the same time.

Final touch: a nice spray of dry Teflon lube spray on the entire transmission to improve sliding without creating “clumps” of grease and dust.

And what about the saddle?

For the saddle and other accessories with non-metallic parts, such as the handlebar tape, a little more care needs to be taken to keep their features intact.

Selle Italia coverings in Fibra Tek microfibre, Duro Tek or leather, but also full carbon products are resilient and highly dirt-proof, therefore a wet and wrung soft cloth will normally suffice to remove dirt and sweat; for more stubborn stains you can also use a bit of Marseille soap or similar neutral detergent.

You should however avoid wetting the saddle with direct jets of water, the same way it is strongly advised not to use aggressive solvent-based degreasers or detergents such as benzene, trichloroethylene or others, which may irreparably damage the covering, causing cracks and the like. For the same reason, beware of polishing creams used for footwear.

To maintain the softness of natural leather coverings, you can also use a few drops of specific neutral products commonly used to clean leather clothing.

 

Selle Italia

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