Jeff Bryson slideshow
How To with EWS mechanic Jeff Bryson

Clean Your Bike Like a Pro

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae
Date Jun 16, 2017

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. 

shower

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. 

Roller

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. 

scrubbing

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. 

silicone

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.

silicone

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. 

oil

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. 

tools

Jeff's tool kit is relatively streamlined.

Ez Detail

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

clean

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.

Comments

Ninjatarian
+3
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!

Reply

Tony1964
+2
Tony1964  - June 16, 2017, 9:17 p.m.

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

Reply

cyclotoine
+1
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.

Reply

Ninjatarian
0
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.

Reply

JVP
0
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!

Reply

El_Sketchio
0
William Gaffney  - June 16, 2017, 11:47 a.m.

Some bikes look netter dirty I think.

Reply

manicmotions
0
Mitchell Nuyens  - June 20, 2017, 6:33 p.m.

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

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
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?

Reply

agleck7
+1
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.

Reply

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