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How to Clean Your Bike for Summertime

June 3, 2020

Do you consider yourself a biking fanatic? Or maybe you’re someone who wants to get back into riding after some time off. Whether your bike is a veteran trail master or it’s the first time it has been out in over a year, it’s important for you to maintain your bike’s health with proper cleaning. 

While there are specific steps to cleaning your bike properly, rest assured it’s not hard to do. Here are our tips for how to clean a bike.

Before You Start

Before doing anything, be sure to gather your supplies. You’ll need the following items: 

  • Soft towels or microfiber cloths.
  • A couple of buckets of water.
  • Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser or Powder. (MORE Spray + Foam for easier to clean spots and final polishing.)
  • Brushes and a sponge. 

Next, to make your cleaning process easier, we suggest mounting your bike on a repair stand. Pulling your bicycle off the ground makes it easier to get to the small areas you can otherwise miss. Once you have your bike secure (and you’re comfortable, feel free to remove your wheels for a more thorough cleaning.

Now, let’s get started!

Bike Chains

We recommend beginning with small features, like your bike’s chain. Keeping your bike chain clean and free of grime will ensure your bike is accelerating properly during your ride. If you happen to be restoring a bike that’s been sitting in your basement for a while, the chains might have rusted – in which case, you’ll need a little more elbow grease. 

Start by creating a paste using water and our BKF Powder Cleanser. Spread some of the paste onto the chains and leave it on there for no more than five minutes. Once the five minutes is up, scrub with a sponge or cloth and rinse thoroughly with water. You can keep your chains running smoothly by getting rid of lingering rust.

Once  you’re done cleaning your bike and it’s dry, you should lubricate the chain. “To apply bike chain lube, deposit a drop on the top of each link as you slowly backpedal for a few revolutions so the lube has a chance to work its way in. Wipe off excess lube—if you don’t, it can attract more dirt to your chain.” — — How to Use Bike Chain Lube  

Bike Frames

Bike frames can be crafted out of a plethora of materials. Most commonly, you’ll find that bike frames are made up of aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. While the deterioration rates are different for all of these materials, they are all subject to environmental exposures, UV levels, and hot/dry to cold/wet weather cycles. It’s also important to know what the frame is made of so that you know what cleaning products you can safely use.

Ultimately, what product you end up using (and how much of it) will depend heavily on the severity of rust and grime on your frame. Bar Keepers Friend MORE Spray + Foam cleaner sprayed on and rinsed will easily clean daily mud, smudge and grime. However, if you’re going to tackle those harder to scrub messes, you’ll need our BKF Soft or Powdered Cleansers. Just be cautious of how much product you use and how long you decide to leave it on. For example, when creating a paste, you might want to add the paste to the frame and scrub it immediately. This is opposed to leaving the paste on the frame for five minutes. 

Our Soft Cleanser might even be the better option, as it might apply smoother and be easier to remove when rinsing. For some, the Soft Cleanser might be easier to measure out. In addition to product considerations, you also might not want to use as much product since a little can go a long way with specific materials. 

As always, be sure to test our products on a small, inconspicuous section of your bike frame before you begin any cleaning project.

Pedals and Handlebars

The most important features of any method of transportation are the safety features. On bikes, the parts you use to hang on and stay on are arguably the most important. Pedals and handlebars should always be free of rust or caked on grease, grime, dirt, etc. A build up of any of these things could wear out the fluidity and reliability of your bike

With all the cracks and crevices many pedals and handlebars have, we recommend scrubbing your pedals and handlebars with our Soft Cleanser with a cloth or brush to remove rust or other degradation of your bike. After scrubbing your pedals and handlebars, be sure to rinse thoroughly. This is particularly important as you don’t want the product to come in contact with your skin.

Bike Rims and Spokes

If you’ve ever tried to hose off your rims and spokes, you know that doesn’t really get the job done. It doesn’t remove all the dirt and often leaves water spots. For heavily soiled rims and spokes such as your mountain bike covered with mud and “who knows what” debris from your local trail, use BKF Powder. Make a paste and then wipe it on the rims and spokes. You can also use a non-scratch pad or old toothbrush for heavy stains. It’s a pain wiping each individual spoke, but it’s worth it when you see them shine. Let it sit a minute, wipe it off with a rag or paper towel, and then dry and polish it with a micro cloth for the finishing touch. 

For less grimy rims and spokes, use MORE Spray + Foam. Cover the rim and spokes, let it sit one minute, and then wipe it off with a soft cloth.  

Bike Brakes 

Last but not least are your disc brakes. We’ve saved them for last because cleaning the brakes while you’re cleaning and hosing down the rest of your bike can lead to leaving containments on the brake pads. The last thing you want is anything that might interfere with the operation of your brakes, so save the brakes for last. If your brakes are rusty or grimy, it might be best to use BKF powder. Once again, make a paste, spread it on the disc, let it sit for a minute, and then wipe it out with a soft cloth. When removing rust, you’ll probably need to repeat a few times. For regular cleaning, you can use MORE Spray + Foam. Use the foam setting because it clings to vertical sides. 

Once you’ve finished cleaning the brakes, soak a soft rag with isopropyl alcohol and thoroughly wipe them down to remove any contaminants. 

It’s Time to Hit the Road! 

Cleaning your bike with Bar Keepers Friend will keep you on the roads, riding into the sunset. If taking care of you means taking care of your bike, Bar Keepers Friend is here for you! So, clean up that bike, hop on, and get moving, because,  “A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stroke”

Scott Stoll, a Community Professor who traveled around the world on his bicycle.






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