Bike wash

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  FredCook 2 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #252346

    So the other day I rode some pretty soggy trails in S. Carolina. Good fun, and ended up with a reddish-brown bike (and myself, truth be told). Carolina mud is VERY slippery, and very sticky.

    I get home, and wanted to wash my bike before the stuff dried like concrete. I saw a bottle of Meguire’s ‘Gold Classic’ car wash soap and thought “Why not?”. So I grabbed a bucket, added a few squirts and some water, and did a quick and dirty wash with a rag and garden hose. Muc-Off be damned, my ride looks sweet!!

    Anyone else use car wash soap on their bike? Any long-term issues or is it all good?

  • #252372

    I’ve used Simple Green on my MTB now and then with no issues – Also use it on my car and truck with no issues.

  • #252384

    I try to wash my bike as seldom as possible and I avoid using soap or a high pressure spray. Usually I just wash off the mud with a gentle spray of water and a wet rag and I only wash it if it is truly dirty. A few minor mud splatters or some dust doesn’t require a cleaning. You can get a bike pretty clean with just water and a rag. I only use soap if the bike is oily or greasey. What you don’t want want to do is drive soap into bearings with a high presssure spray. If you do that your just washing away the bearing grease. Washing your bike frequently with lots of soap will likely lead to early bearing failure. Keeping your bike spotless might look great but it might not be what’s best for your bike.

    P.S. I would avoid riding in mud. It trashes out your bike and it trashes out the trails.

  • #252398

    I’ve used car wash soap in the past.  No issues.  But my go to soap is Dawn.  No issues with it over many, many years.  I use dawn in my chain cleaner as well (with a little water), and it works as good as Park’s Chain Bright.  Its ability to clean greasy dishes seems to work as well on greasy/oily bike parts. Heck, I even use Dawn mixed with water to wet my tires to set the beads, which also serves to show if any air is leaking right after setting.

    But to be honest, I don’t go for a shiny new look wash every time.  After all, it’s only super clean until the next ride, which is usually the same or next day.  I focus on the moving parts and spend most of my time on the chain.  And since I use “dry” lube (wax for the chain) that tends to crust up better than “wet” lubes, between full washes I’ve gotten into a routine of using dry (no water or soap) soft bristle brushes to get mud splatter, dust, and old oil off the important parts before oiling them up.  On occasion, I’ll use Spin Doctor’s Degreaser.

    But, yeah, car soap won’t hurt a bike.  But when my bike gets a real bath, it’s Dawn.

  • #252429

    Car wash soap is great and gentle. That and simple green (for drivetrain) is all you ever need.

  • #252449

    +1   On the car soap and Dawn… as needed.

    Also, as much as people (rightfully) talk about keeping the drivetrain clean and properly lubricated, be sure to clean/wipe your fork and shock stanchions after every ride.

  • #252477

    Simple Green all the way.

  • #252501

    I use Pedro’s Fizz for cleaning. I also QD/sealant/wax the bike at least 2-3 times a month (paint, tires). Clean brake rotors, shocks, chain (wipe down/lube).

  • #253547

    I race cyclocross in addition to XC and road so I have a solid cleaning routine that gets the bike back in top shape in 15 minutes.

    First rule: Brush, don’t flush.  You have muck ON your bike, you want to brush it it OFF your bike, not flush it through every part.  The last thing you want to do with a muddy bike is to blast it with a hose.  Most of the grit will flow over and into your hubs and bottom bracket.

    What you need:
    Work stand
    Soft nylon brushes in assorted sizes
    Water bucket
    Simple Green
    Dummy hub pulley
    Pedro’s chain pig
    Lube
    Hose or spray bottle
    Towel, sponge, or rag
    Bonus: air compressor or booster pump.

    Wait for all that mud to completely dry.  Usually it will dry on the drive or ride home from the trail anyway.  Brush the seatpost clean and mount it in a work stand* then remove both wheels and install a dummy hub pulley to keep your chain off your frame and off your thru axle.  Brush all the dried mud off with a dry brush.  Get as much as you can, especially around the stanchions, bottom bracket, downtube and tires.

    *If you have a dropper post, cover the post with a clean rag to prevent scratches.

    Fill your water bucket and add a little simple green.  Dunk your brushes into the mixture and scrub the whole bike from top to bottom, starting with the grips and saddle and ending with the drive train.  Attach the pedros chain pig and fill to the line with non-dilute simple green.  Turn the cranks with one hand and keep brushing the chain ring and rear mech and pulleys with the other hand.  Now move on to the clean the tires, rim, and cassette.  Try to keep track of what brushes went where so you don’t spread grease around and create more work for yourself.

    With the hose or spray bottle, lightly spray the bike with water to remove the simple green mixture.  Aggressively flush the chain to remove the undiluted simple green, its acidic and will damage the steel if left on for hours.  Bonus points, use a joe-blow booster pump, compressor, or compressed air bottle to blast water off and out of the chain.  Wipe frame down with a dry rag/sponge/towel.  After air drying, re-lube the chain, pedals, and thru-axles and reassemble.  Get your brushes ready for the next wash by scrubbing them against each other in the wash bucket.

    Pro-tip: keep your grips, levers, saddle, and handlebar tape clean.  Sweat and oil builds up on those parts and can cause you to slip.  Keep all of your bike wash stuff together in one place so you can get started quickly.

  • #253592

    Thanks, all. Some really good info.

    I really just wanted to know if the ‘car wash’ stuff had any adverse effects on a bicycle (scratchy surfactants, that sort of thing). Dawn is my normal bike wash soap.

    And no, I didn’t wreck any trails. I rode ‘secret private land’ trails. With the owner.

    • #253639

      I think the finish on a bike is at least as tough as the finish on a car, so “scratchy surfactants” probably isn’t an issue.

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