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  1. #1
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    Bike washing/basic maintenance questions.

    I picked up a sick Pivot Mach 4 Carbon and am quickly realizing my old bike maintenance skills never included disc brakes, tubeless tires, rear shocks, and fancy carbon. Iím still determined to get my act together to maintain this bike as well as my ancient 90s hard tail. The shocks and disc brakes are what I know the least about. I am wondering if its worth it to learn how to service my shocks. The brakes I feel like I can learn but the shocks are intimidating to me. I had a couple other questions.


    Bike Washing: I feel so wrong spraying my bike with a hose for some reason. I have nightmares about water seeping into one of the weird suspension linkage points or around the crank. I am wondering what parts I can hit with a lot of water and places I should stay away from. This is my current process; bike soap and brushes to clean, degrease the chain/derailleur/cassette, dry with terry cloth towel, quick ride down the street to air dry, lube chain. My bike is mostly carbon and full suspension.


    Degreasing effectively: I have some citrus degreaser at the moment and it seems to work really well but has the drawback of staining and being flammable. Today I did it in the grass in front of my house. As mentioned above I degrease after the bike is clean. I use a blue shop paper towel to remove excess degreaser and then hit is with the hose. I gave the grass a good soak after working to hopefully wash away the cleaner and degreaser. Does this make sense? I worry I am doing bad stuff to my lawn but I would think enough water would wash it away.




    Rags/Dirty stuff: I used to use a piece of cardboard or newspapers but I felt like I was creating a huge fire hazard and didnít know how to throw away the whole mess. I use the blue paper towels but I worry about throwing them away. I know certain chemicals can be easily combustable and a nice pile of paper on fire in my garage sounds not so fun. I also canít imagine putting a dirty bike rag in my washing machine.

  2. #2
    jcd's best friend
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    There might be some basic mechanic classes in your area! I would look online or ask the question in your area forum here on MTBR. Some bike shops may even teach a basic maintenance class too! When you say "service shocks" do you mean your rear shock and the fork? It's a bit of work to learn that stuff but a basic mechanic class may teach that stuff or know someone who can teach you how to do it. There might be people in your area who can service your shock and fork too! Sometimes it's easier to do that.

    Your bike washing technique sounds about right. I wash my bike down with a hose and I use soapy water to clean it all up. People say to not use pressure washers to clean your bike because it can wash out all the grease around the bearings and what not. I like to use Simple Green for my degreasing as well. It's biodegradable and environmental friendly. It does a good job getting some of the tough crap off my bike.

    I also have a big bin full of clean rags and another for dirty ones. I actually wash my rags separately from my regular laundry and run the self clean cycle afterwards. I haven't had any issues with my regular laundry doing it this way.
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  3. #3
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    I too use Simple Green to clean the drive train. Squirt it on and let it sit for a bit before rinsing it off with low pressure water.... I don't really clean the rest of the bike. a dusty frame is not hurting anything.

  4. #4
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    Cleaning your bike -- especially if you do it wrong -- can be one of the most damaging things that happens to your bike.

    Lube the chain. Adjust anything that needs it. But save the soap and water and solvents for once or twice a year. At most.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Cleaning your bike -- especially if you do it wrong -- can be one of the most damaging things that happens to your bike.

    Lube the chain. Adjust anything that needs it. But save the soap and water and solvents for once or twice a year. At most.
    What parts of a bike is the soap harming?
    How is it more harmful than caked on mud to some of the finer bits and pieces?

  6. #6
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    ^^^ that's my opinion as well. You want lube and grease in bearings and pivots. Washing can only drive dirt and grit in, contaminate the lube and grease, and remove it. I never really degrease my chain or cassette. I lube the chain really well then wipe it off to get as much excess lube off it as I can. With that, the chain and cassette stay pretty clean. I haven't cleaned the cassette in over 1000 miles of trail riding...except for digging out leaves and twigs that get caught up in it.
    Do the math.

  7. #7
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    IMO cleaning your bike with soap, water and brushes is the fastest, most effective way to do it and hurts nothing. That's how pro mechanics the world over do it.

    I just keep rags in a bucket and rotate cleanish, dirty, and dirtier ones and throw them away when they get too disgusting. I'm not putting them in my washing machine.
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  8. #8
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    I'm somewhere in-between. If my bike is really dirty I'll hit it with a hose to knock off the dirt, but only a more fanned out spray and I don't hit the bottom bracket nor the pivot points. I don't bother with soap. It's not spotless clean afterwards but that's fine.

    I've still got some Nashbar degreaser I use. I just use rags until they are dirty and then throw them away. OP, I don't think you need to be too concerned with spontaneous combustion, linseed oil is known to do that and I'd be a bit worried about paint thinner and stuff like that but hopefully you're not using anything too combustible (kerosene?) I also don't use that much degreaser where I"d be concerned about it on the grass, etc. I put it on a rag and wipe it, I'm not pouring it directly onto the chain.
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  9. #9
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    I personally wouldn't use degreaser on my bike... Any grease on/in my bike, is grease I want there.... Spray degreaser on your top/bottom tube, and guess where it's going? Yep, straight to the bottom bracket.... You want grease in there.... You don't want degreaser running down your shocks either, it cuts oil too....
    I would stick to a bucket of water with car wash soap, a brush, then rinse gently with the hose. Save the degreaser for when you have grease you want to get rid of, and then watch for overspray...

  10. #10
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    Carwash soap, hose on the shower setting. I shake the water off, wipe, sun dry.

    Drive train, alcohol and lube. I use one of those chain brushes to clean the DT.
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  11. #11
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    Park Tools produce really good videos that are entertaining as well

  12. #12
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    I usually don't hose down the bike unless its extremely muddy. Here in So Cal it's pretty dry...so I rarely "wash" my bike. One bike is matte and the other gloss paint. The bike with the gloss paint...sometimes I'll use some spray on car detailer and wipe the frame. Unless my drivetrain is really gunked up...I won't degrease anything...I'll just spray some WD-40 onto a rag and wipe the chain down...then put on a light coating of chain lube. If you have a gunked up cassette...take the wheel off the bike and spray some Simple Green on the cassette...use a small brush to loosen the grit...and gently rinse off.

    Other things on the bike I'll wipe down are the stanchions on the fork and rear shock. I pretty much never do anything to my brakes unless I'm replacing the pads/rotor or if they need to be bled.

    As for rags...I use the blue shop paper towels from places like Walmart or your local auto parts store.

  13. #13
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    absolutely no degreaser!!!

    disassemble your chain and cassette then degrease separately from any bearings. The degreaser breaks down the grease shortening the life of the bearing. Its usually thinner than water and gets in places water cant. So it wont get rinsed off.

    i take a micro fiber towel and wipe gently any dirt from top of fork and shock seals. Usually before each ride.

    To wash, a little bit of soap in another microfiber towel and wet heavily w water. I will spray down my bike with a hose on shower setting and then wipe down frame starting at the top.

    dont use a soap w car wash wax in it. Not on the brakes. I never wipe brakes but will clean after w alcohol.

    i switched to muck off ceramic dry chain lube and it hoses off well. Other lubes accumulate alot of dirt and never seem to clean well. Even w a bit of soap. Its bright green and very easy to put a drop on each roller, starting with the master link. Ive been doing a single drop. But going around twice.

    i have gotten corrosion on axles by not drying my bike and using too much water. So it either sits in direct sun a while after or im very stingy w the water.

    to clean a microfiber towel. I put spray nine degreaser on it and rub in it good then hose off. Followed up with some dish soap to be sure i get all the degreaser out. Then set to dry on a pedal hook rack etc. they look brand new after and are further proof how that degreaser does too good a job to just be sprayed anywhere near a bearing..

    im not an expert but that is my current system.

  14. #14
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    I wash my commuter or more if it is a rainy ride home and my mtn bike bi-weekly unless it is really dirty.

    I use dawn soap, a soft brush and on the drive train I use that citrus degreaser from Home Depot and I while I have replaced chains and what not, they are at intervals I feel ok about replacing them.

    I let my mtn bike dry for a few hours and apply lube to chain. Also grease pivots monthly. Bike is a couple of yrs old and no creaks so far.

    I use the hose on a shower type setting, and will scrub a little harder to remove dirt, mud etc

    when I am done I will usually apply a coat of automotive spray wax over the frame to give it a little extra shine.
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  15. #15
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    I usually hose my bike off on the shower setting of my nozzle after every 2 rides or so along with a chain lube, and I give it a deep clean with automotive soap and some brushes every 3-4 weeks.

  16. #16
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    It's dusty here (DFW) and of late has been a bit muddy. Our mud is sticky, chunky and full of rocks. I certainly rinse off mud after a ride and boy that dust cakes up everywhere theres a bit of grease or lube. But I try not to hose it off, just rinse the frame and wheels and fork/shock then wipe the greasemud off later when dry or dryish.

  17. #17
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    If a good scrubbing is ok for a fragile road bike it's probably fine for a mtb too- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goqZHEGuZL8

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  18. #18
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    meant to post this here:

    this is a timely thread. i just started hitting the trails and got a bunch of mud on my frame the other day.

    can i just hose it down and go about my business? you guys are getting me nervous with all these lube, don't wash with soap, etc. talk!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky Mtn View Post
    I wash my commuter or more if it is a rainy ride home and my mtn bike bi-weekly unless it is really dirty.

    I use dawn soap, a soft brush and on the drive train I use that citrus degreaser from Home Depot and I while I have replaced chains and what not, they are at intervals I feel ok about replacing them.

    I let my mtn bike dry for a few hours and apply lube to chain. Also grease pivots monthly. Bike is a couple of yrs old and no creaks so far.

    I use the hose on a shower type setting, and will scrub a little harder to remove dirt, mud etc

    when I am done I will usually apply a coat of automotive spray wax over the frame to give it a little extra shine.
    Most of the stuff in this thread is a bunch of crap, in my opinion.
    Don't wash your bike? What!
    Don't use degreaser? Um okay!


    But I definitely do not recommend dish soap, unless it's highly diluted. And I ABSOLUTELY do not recommend Dawn dish soap.

    It is too strong for paint finishes.
    Would you wash your brand new favorite car of all time using Dawn?


    I use Simple Green, if I'm out of good soap, for the chain and derailleurs. Usually diluted quite a bit more than normal.

    I use soap on the frame and stuff. Good point about added wax in the automotive soap though. Not sure if my soap has added wax, but I can still stop so maybe I'm just lucky. But that is a good point to bring up. Thanks.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by therightcoastrider View Post
    meant to post this here:

    this is a timely thread. i just started hitting the trails and got a bunch of mud on my frame the other day.

    can i just hose it down and go about my business? you guys are getting me nervous with all these lube, don't wash with soap, etc. talk!
    You can absolutely rinse off your bike. If only rinsing, you'll leave a reside and or spotty stains from the mud. The stains will wash off next time you actually wash the bike though.

    A mild detergent is all you'll need. Most of the time I hose off the bike to get the big stuff off, or the dust. I think wash it simply by wiping down the water with my bare hands. Then dry off with a towel. Follow it up by lubing the chain after it's dried. I usually ride it in the street to dry the brakes (heat) and throw the water from the chain.

    if I will be riding in muddy conditions again soon, I'll just hose it off to get the big stuff off. Once it has dried, it looks like a lazy person washed it as it's full of residu but not worth the bigger cleaning to ride it again in a day or 3.

    Usually before a big event I'll take the wheels down and clean them perfectly while off the bike. Clean the cassette and chain spotless.
    Toothbrush the tight to reach areas like dropouts. Brake calipers, around pivots, etc. A Thorough cleaning of the entire bike (except for the controls -I don't like to overly spray water and soap on the shifters). Or if the bike is just very dirty for a long time from simple rinses I'll decided it's a good time to clean it to like new prettiness!

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