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Bike maintenance guide
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Brakes & Gears Wheels & Tyres Pedals Big clean-up Saddles & Handlebars The chain

The big clean-up

Mountain bikes need a good scrub down after a muddy ride but any bike looks better after a wash and polish.

Do it after a mucky cross-country ride or every two or three months in dry weather.

It should take you an hour to do the job properly including cleaning and lubricating the chain. Ten minutes if you're in a real hurry.

Cleaning kit: Washing-up liquid, Water Dispersing Lube, Spray Degreaser, Brush-on Degreaser. Bottle brush, washing-up brush, old toothbrush, sponge, old sponge for the chain, chamois leather.

  • Squirt plenty of washing-up liquid into half a bucket of hot water. Mop over the whole bike and let it soak in.

  • Wash the whole bike again. This second wash will shift most of the dirt, but there may be areas where the dirt is more stubborn.

    Use a toothbrush or a paint brush for all the nooks and crannies.

  • Where the foam seems to form droplets and roll off, use a degreaser (a solvent that dissolves grease) to break down the film of oil. Do the same to the chain.

    Work it with the brush to ensure the dirt and oil mixes with the degreaser.

  • Get a bucket of clean warm water and rinse the foam away. Use a sponge to cascade water over the frame, the mudguards and the chain.
  • Dry the frame, mudguards, saddle and handlebars with a clean rag or a chamois.

    Then squirt spray lube over the chain, gears, hubs and headset to drive out any water that has got in. Then lubricate the chain.

    Dos: Do not wash your bike in the sun. The water will dry off too quickly leaving you with dull paint and a lot of streaks.

    Keep the bike upright, whether it's standing on its own wheels or in a bike stand.

    Don'ts: Never use a pressure washer. Bike bearings are not designed to keep out water under pressure. For the same reason, keep the pressure down if you use a hose.

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