Tools of the trade
- warm water
- garden hose
- simple detergent (I like to use dishwashing liquid)
- stiff bristled brush (eg. washing up brush)
- any other brushes that you see fit (eg. tooth brush to get into the nooks and crannies)
- give your bike a quick rinse with the garden hose to remove most of the loose debris. It is important that the water pressure is no more than a rainshower as high pressure water will force past the seals in your suspension, hubs, bottom bracket and headset, damaging the components (see useful hints for a way to give these parts extra protection).
- put some detergent and warm water an a bucket and begin to sponge bath the bike, from top to bottom. clean down the suspension sliders and around the headset, not forgeting the bottom bracket. Sponge down the rims and hubs as well. Using one hand to hold the cranks steady, scrub the rear cassette cogs and then move onto the front chainrings. While your bending over, scrub the chain, front and rear derailleurs as well as the pedals.
- now that your bike is covered in soapy suds, grab the garden hose and begin to rinse it off. Remember to keep the pressure low.
- now that the bike is sparkling clean, bounce or shake it a couple of times to rattle of most of the water. You may also like to wipe it down with a dry towel. Alternitavely you can take it for a brisk 1-2 minute ride to blow the water off, however this may cause dirt to fly from the tyres onto the bike again.
- when the bike is dry, lubricate the chain and cables appropriately
- Aim to clean your bike after about every 2-3 hours of riding
- you can easily clean down your suspension sliders with a rag or with the back of your gloves which will reduce pressure on the dust seals
- most mountain bikes these days have pretty decent seals on the bearings, however if you are paranoid that water will force through, tie some rags around them for extra protection.
- you can use degreaser on your chain and cogs to make the drivetrain extra clean. Aim to keep it on the chain and cogs only to prevent it getting into any sealed units.
- don't put any chamicals (lubricant, degreaser etc) on the brake pads or braking surfaces as this will contaminate them, greatly reducing brake performance.
Having a clean bike feels great and will increase it's life dramatically.