Jeff Bryson slideshow
How To with EWS mechanic Jeff Bryson

Clean Your Bike Like a Pro

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae
Date Apr 2, 2021

A few riders have gotten in touch with me about the best way to clean your bike since I built a simple, layman's bike wash stand that should come in under $50. Below is an expert's approach to bike cleaning (from someone you may recognize).

Riders in Southern California, Israel or Sicily don't know the pain of perpetually cleaning your bike. After the sixth muddy ride in a row, the honeymoon is over. If you are an apartment dweller and your partner doesn't appreciate brown Minion tracks across the new carpet (what's the big deal?), cleaning your bike every time is a necessity. If you have garage or shed storage for your bike you can get away with merely cleaning and lubing your chain, and I confess to occasionally going months without cleaning my bike, but I've recently become addicted. And we all know a clean bike runs better. Inexplicably your brakes start to grab firmly and consistently again and that pesky slow shift into your largest cog starts to glide in silently.

Getting the right tools morphed the post ride clean from a task I detested to one I enjoy, particularly with beer in hand. A few brushes made the difference for me but I realize I am but a lowly amateur, an apprentice if you will. Getting to the next tier was going to require some pro level help.

dirty bike

The gardener's hedge is rarely trimmed; Jeff didn't dirty his bike for this demo, it was at home pining for this attention.

Jeff Bryson, who helps out with our teardown articles, was recently hired as Team Urge Rocky Mountain's EWS mechanic. Jeff is responsible for the bikes of both Jesse Melamed and Remi Gauvin, and cleaning them (bikes not riders) is a large part of that process each day. Jeff was quick to tell me that it's not just a clean; the most important part of the process involves touching and examining every part of the bike. It's a clean and inspect.

Wheels off

If you are going deep you need to pull the wheels, both to clean your rims, tires, and hubs and to clean and examine the inside of the stays and fork legs.

It's important to make sure the area you are cleaning doesn't dry before you have removed all the dirt. Otherwise you are more likely to scratch the finish and removing all the dirt will be a challenge. In the warm season Jeff recommends spraying and cleaning one side completely first and then switching to the other side, going from the top down both times. If you don't have a bike stand you will probably want to flip the bike for part of the process.

Here's Jeff's pro race level clean. Most of us won't do this often, but I plan to go full OCD occasionally, and definitely if I'm selling a bike.


Never powerwash your bike. Unless you do. Because Jeff breaks down the bike regularly, including repacking every single bearing, he sometimes uses a pressure washer. For the rest of us, Jeff recommends a gentle shower to loosen the dirt while avoiding spraying directly into bearings.


The Wash Buddy keeps your chain off the chainstay and allows you to run the chain through a rag or brush or apply oil. You can buy just the roller for $15 or a qr version that holds the roller for $75 from Abbey Tools.

abbey tools

I'm not sure I will ever get this obsessed about cleaning my bike, but if I do I'll likely pick up a Wash Buddy.

bike wash

The Rocky team is sponsored by Muc-Off and their bike cleaner concentrate can be used alone as a degreaser or with water added to wash the frame and components. The cleaner helps remove any stubborn dirt as well as any grease that isn't where it should be.


And then just scrub. Every part of the bike. I expected Jeff to remove the brake pads before this step but he said it wasn't a concern.

fork crown

Jeff's brush has a broken handle but he likes it better this way because he can access tight spots more easily.

ez detail

This brush is actually my secret weapon. It's made for auto and moto detailing but it works great on bikes. It's the GO EZ Detail Brush but the best one is actually the Big EZ Detail Brush. The spine is very thin and bendable and it will go into almost any space. The bristles are soft and they don't absorb oil or grease.

brake pads

Now it's time to remove your pads, because you are about to go hard with the spray on miracle.


I've previously only used silicone to lube my stanchions but Jeff goes to town with it. He sprays it everywhere (not the rotors or pads!) and then waits for about ten minutes while it soaks into your paint and anodizing, filling any chips or imperfections.


Jeff says his silicone treatment will add $400 to the price of a used bike, and I believe it after seeing the difference. After ten minutes Jeff caresses and polishes every surface with lint-free disposable wipes. Absolutely every surface.


Jeff wouldn't tell me his secret chain sauce (not pictured here) but he also uses this mystery lube on bearings to make everything roll or cycle a little faster.


Jeff's tool kit is relatively streamlined.

Ez Detail

This one is a nice addition for hubs, linkages and any tough to reach spaces.


Jeff's bike went from worn to mint before my eyes.

Besides leaving the wheels, foregoing the silicone and bike wash for your everyday wash will save you time, but the brushes are really what makes this task bearable.

There is no way I am regularly pulling my wheels for a bike clean. I can see it once a month if I'm riding a lot, but after seeing Jeff work his magic I am a little giddy about rejuvenating the bike I've been riding recently. If you already have this mastered, share some photos of your clean bikes below.

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+6 Pete Roggeman Merwinn Cam McRae Raymond Epstein Angu58 rolly
Paul T-Rex  - June 16, 2017, 6:26 a.m.

Maxima SC1 does wonders for keeping my bike shiny and the suspension supple as anything- and it smells great too!  A cheap brush for hubs is a dollar store bottle brush.  Nice write up!


+3 Cam McRae AJ Barlas Angu58
Tony1964  - June 16, 2017, 9:17 p.m.

We call that stuff New Bike in a can. At the motorcycle shop I work at.


Lu Kz  - April 2, 2021, 8:27 a.m.

It does smell great but also I get the feeling in the back of my mind that its actually poison.

I'd love to give this stuff a whirl too though.


JNK  - April 2, 2021, 9:37 p.m.

I've always sprayed it on a towel first but do you just spray directly on the bike?


rolly  - April 5, 2021, 8:41 a.m.

If I'm in a hurry I spray it on a towel and rub it on the  main parts of my frame.  That way I don't need to take wheels off and protect the brakes.  Otherwise, spray directly gets a better coating.


+2 Pete Roggeman Angu58
cyclotoine  - June 16, 2017, 8:08 a.m.

Arione VS on the MTB, Nice. 

Pro tip, buy the big jugs of Simple Green HD (the purple stuff) from crappy tire and dilute in a spray bottle for basic wipe downs. Cost effective and awesome. Also works great in the ultra sonic and won't oxidize alloy (like regular green simple green will). I pull the chain and cassette a few times a year and toss in an ultra sonic cleaner for that spotless clean.


Paul T-Rex  - June 16, 2017, 9:43 a.m.

Regular simple green oxidizes alloy?  I had no idea.  I don't think I have ever seen the purple stuff.


+1 DancingWithMyself
JVP  - June 16, 2017, 11:41 a.m.

Simple Green is even worse on steel, makes it brittle.  Soaked a new chain in it once, and on the next ride it broke in 5 places.  Had no idea what was going on until I searched the Google back home.

I don't get why people use cleaning fluids of any kind on their bikes, unless selling or fully breaking it down.  Yeah, alcohol for functional cleaning, but nothing but a brush, and maybe a hose if it was horribly sloppy. Your bearings will thank you. It'll be dirty again next time you ride it.  Dirt pride!


AndrewR  - March 29, 2018, 9:39 p.m.

Took the lovely coating off an XX1 Rear cassette because I did not know this simple fact!


AndrewR  - Jan. 31, 2021, 6:09 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

+2 cxfahrer DancingWithMyself
William Gaffney  - June 16, 2017, 11:47 a.m.

Some bikes look netter dirty I think.


Mitchell Nuyens  - June 20, 2017, 6:33 p.m.

so what does he do about the pads and rotors after removing?

Cam McRae  - June 25, 2017, 11:30 p.m.

He just puts them aside and then replaces them once he's done. Is that what you are asking?


Metacomet  - March 30, 2018, 11:24 a.m.

I think he meant more on how/if he removes the cleaning solution residue from the pads and rotors before re-installing them. Or is he really installing a brand new set after every wash?


Lu Kz  - April 2, 2021, 8:32 a.m.

Ideally because he removes them before going to town with the silicone they don't have too much garbage on them regardless?


+2 Cam McRae DMRDave
Agleck7  - June 21, 2017, 7:24 a.m.

This inspired me to do a Maxima SC1 treatment yesterday and I remembered a good application tip to avoid ruining brake pads:  Put a nitrite glove over the caliper and wrap it up and around over itself to seal it up. then spray with impunity.


fartymarty  - March 30, 2018, 2:27 a.m.

I'm a recent convert to cleaning my bike after every wet / muddy ride which has been a lot this winter.  Typically it is a light spray with the hose to get rid of mud and clean the drivetrain. 

I use the kids old tooth brushes for those hard to reach places.  Also equine hoof brushes / picks  are useful.


fartymarty  - March 30, 2018, 2:32 a.m.

Also I used a bit of external waterproof sealant to fill in the back of the brake arch as I really hate cleaning out mud from all the little holes.


+2 hotlapz Cam McRae
Raymond Epstein  - March 30, 2018, 5:10 a.m.

Long before Muc-Off became a thing, I used Suzuki-Wash. Now I pick up jugs of the generic version of it from assorted motorcycle outlets. Basically I do the exact same thing as above, but use a small portion of pvc insulation to rest the chain on versus a Wash Buddy. Also a big plus one on the SC1.


+2 hotlapz DancingWithMyself
Andy Eunson  - March 30, 2018, 8:58 a.m.

I use a spray bottle with a little dish soap. And similar brushes. About once a month I’ll fill a bucket with dish soapy water and brush the bike down after a gentle rinse. I’ll scrub the chain, cassette and ring(s) as well and might use a little citrus chain cleaner for that. I take the chain off when it’s worn and ready for replacement. In my experience if you don’t over lubricate the chain and use something like Prolink or Rock n Roll, you don’t get much build up. Avoid Phil’s Tenacious at all costs. It is awful.


+8 Deniz Merdano tashi Zayphod Derek Baker Karl Fitzpatrick Nologo cheapondirt Cam McRae
Flatted-again  - April 2, 2021, 7:18 a.m.

The wash buddy is nifty, but for a cheap cheap cheap alternative, I use the inner part of a roll of plumbers tape on the thru axle.


Deniz Merdano  - April 2, 2021, 7:46 a.m.

Excellent tip!!


+2 Derek Baker Tremeer023
TomM  - April 2, 2021, 10:02 a.m.

For anyone who didn't know that off the shelf degreasers can etch your aluminum parts, here's a guy who uses some to completely remove the black anodizing from his chainring in about 15 minutes.


hotlapz  - April 2, 2021, 2:35 p.m.

I've been using zep citrus degreaser with no problems.


cheapondirt  - April 6, 2021, 7:44 p.m.

Good tip, my bike has a little bit of a raw/polished aluminum theme going already and you just made it a lot easier for me to find matching parts!


+1 Cam McRae
cheapondirt  - April 5, 2021, 6:20 p.m.

I don't know if there's a difference between Maxima sc1 and any old silicone spray, but I used the latter today with good results. Probably cheaper and easier to find.

Cam McRae  - April 5, 2021, 10:11 p.m.

I've been using Motorex silicone recently, as well as their bike shine product which has quite different ingredients, and both are great.


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