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Washing and Waxing a Bicycle - The Full & Free Guide

So, you want your bike to look its best, and to keep it looking its best for longer?

You’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know to get your bike cleaned up and riding like a dream for mile after mile.

The Ultimate Wax Product: Must-Have
The Hybrid Wax Your Bike Deserves

★★★★★ "Saw this being promoted on a big YouTube channel and thought why not try it. Was a bit skeptical but WOW. Super easy to apply and car is shining. Water still pelts off 3 weeks later! Gonna ditch the wax and will continue to use." - Josh S. 

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Why Bother Washing And Waxing Your Bike?

Cleaning your bicycle isn’t just about keeping it looking great. Unlike cars, most of a bike’s moving components are fully exposed to the elements, so keeping them clean is essential for maximizing their lifespan.

The drivetrain (chain and gears) is the most likely victim of neglect. Dirt and grit will quickly turn the lubricating oil into a sandy grinding paste that will chew through these components years ahead of schedule.

Cables, frames, seals, and suspension are likely to suffer more slowly - but suffer, they will! And replacing these larger parts can give your bank account a beating!

Okay, so cleaning is a no-brainer. But wax? Isn’t that only for cars and trucks?

No way! You’ll get the same benefits from waxing a bicycle as you would from waxing a car.

Wax creates a water resistant, high-gloss, and transparent basic shield against damage from the elements. Salts and chemicals from the road, moisture, or contaminants from muddy trails will ruthlessly attack your bike’s paint and metal if they get the chance. We’ve all seen bikes with bubbled paintwork and dulled metal, maybe with cloudy, discolored decals peeling away at the edges - it’s never a good look! The fact is that no matter how box-fresh your ride might look today, the time when it will look old and beat is fast approaching unless it’s properly taken care of.

What Supplies Do You Need?

Soap

Don’t be tempted to break into the dish soap! Unlike pots and pans, paintwork is soft, so aggressive soaps can cause damage and leave it vulnerable.

The way to go is a bodywork-specific cleanser. Torque Detail Decon Soap is guaranteed to thoroughly clean away dirt and contaminants while leaving paintwork unharmed. Check it out here.

Chain Lubricant

A fully lubricated drivetrain is absolutely essential. A degreased drivetrain can fail after just a few weeks of riding.

When choosing a bicycle chain lubricant, there are two main categories: wet and dry. Which one you choose depends on the environment in which you mostly ride.

Wet lubricant is suited to wet conditions. It’s water-resistant and should remain effective for multiple rainy rides. However, it attracts dirt, so expect to have to clean your chain more frequently.

Dry lubricant is the opposite. Better suited to dry conditions, it will wash off easily in water but will also remain free from dirt much longer.

Mirror Shine Hybrid Wax & Sealant

There’s an endless selection of waxes and sealant products on the market, but we were never satisfied with the compromises they offered. Some take forever to apply, others only provide short-term protection, and many never truly achieve that stunning shine that we want to see on our rides.

That’s why we invented Torque Detail Mirror Shine. This formulation provides truly durable water and dirt-repelling protection for your paint and metal finishes. There are also zero compromises on the finish; it enhances surfaces with a deep, glossy shine that will elevate the look of your prized ride. Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to apply!

Microfiber Towels

If you want to keep your bike looking its best, microfiber towels beat regular rags or towels any day of the week. We include our microfiber wash mitt for free with our Decon Soap.

Degreaser of Choice

Go for a quality, bike-specific degreaser. The gunky, old oil on your drivetrain will be almost impossible to shift without it. We’ve gotten great results with Simple Green, an eco-friendly degreaser that cuts straight through chain oil. Avoid household items like white spirits or methylated spirits, as these can damage components and paintwork.

Detailing Brushes

Detailing brushes are a solid investment and can save you a lot of time. Toothbrushes are the old DIY favorite, but a proper detailing brush will make it much easier to access those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. Above picture is Nurkul's affordably priced detailing brush kit.

Bike Stand (optional)

Not essential by any means but definitely useful, a stand will make the job much simpler, plus eliminate the risk of your bike slipping over and crashing to the ground while you’re working! Above is Bikehand's popular bike repair stand.

Chain Cleaning Tool or Simply Another Brush

This is a great invention. Chain cleaning used to be a long, messy process. A chain cleaning tool changes all that and does the hard work for you, making it well worth it! Above is Park Tool's CG-2.4.

How To Wash And Wax Your Bike - Step-By-Step Guide

Okay, we’re all ready to get started. Here’s how to proceed:

1. Degrease & Lubricate the Drivetrain

You first need to remove all of the old dirt and oil from the links in the chain, chain wheels, and gears.

  • Fill your chain cleaning tool with degreaser and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to snap it into place.
  • Slowly turn the cranks to pull the chain through the cleaning tool. Keep turning it until the chain is completely clean and the links move against each other without any stiffness.
  • Pro tip: Transfer the degreaser onto all the chain wheels/cassette by running your bike through all the gears while the chain cleaner is still attached. This is less messy than trying to spray or wipe degreaser on separately.
  • Keep one of your brushes just for use on the drivetrain. Use it to scrub away the dirt from every surface. It’s a little fiddly, but it’s worth the time.
  • Take a bucket of water and Decon Soap and give the chain and anything that the degreaser has touched a good scrub. This is essential to get all the degreaser off before applying new lubricants.
  • Finally, dry every part of the chain and apply a drop of lubricant to each chain roller. Run it through the gears a few times to lightly coat all the moving parts, then wipe away any excess with a clean rag.

If you think all that sounds complicated, don’t worry! The drivetrain is by far the most time-consuming part of the bike to clean. You’re already over halfway there!

2. The Basic Wash

  • Fill a bucket with Decon Soap and water.
  • Using the wash mitt included with the Decon Soap, work the soap over every surface. Start from the top of the bike and work down. For stubborn dirt, let it soak in the soap for a minute and then wipe away.
  • For less accessible areas, break out the detailing brushes. However, be sure to protect your paint by avoiding any unnecessary scrubbing.
  • Rinse everything off with clean water. Avoid splashing it on your drivetrain, especially if you’re using a dry lubricant.
  • Pat everything dry with a microfiber towel. Pay extra attention to the brake levers, headset bearings, and creases where water can collect.

5. Apply the Wax

  • Working on one area at a time, spray a little Torque Detail Mirror Shine onto each surface (excluding the drive train, brakes, and braking surfaces).
  • Use a clean microfiber towel to work it into the surface. No elbow grease needed here; just make sure it’s fully coated and has a chance to sink in.
  • Take a clean microfiber towel and buff every surface up to a beautiful shine!
  • You can apply a second coating for extra shine and protection!

6. Lubricate Cables, Levers, and Pivots

It’s vital to keep these components functioning. A worn-out brake cable can cost a life.

  • Put a few drops of lubricant inside the top of every cable housing.
  • Add one drop to each brake lever pivot point.
  • Give a couple of drops to every pivot and bearing in the gears.

Mistakes When Washing A Bike

Now you know how to give your bike the best wash and protection it’s ever had! You just need to avoid a few common pitfalls to consider yourself a pro!

Using a High-Pressure Hose

We know! It’s tempting. A quick spray with a pressure hose, and boom! Your ride is clean!

However, this really is too good to be true. That pressure will blast its way into your seals and bearings. Trapped water will wreck these components and can cost you a bomb.

Not Using Microfiber Towels to Apply the Bike Wax

This is an easily-made mistake, but one that’s equally easy to fix. Using microfiber towels will reduce the light surface scratches caused by coarser, everyday fabrics. These scratches might be light, but they will dull your paintwork and make it vulnerable to damage from the elements.

The Ultimate Wax Product: Must-Have
The Hybrid Wax Your Bike Deserves

★★★★★ "Saw this being promoted on a big YouTube channel and thought why not try it. Was a bit skeptical but WOW. Super easy to apply and car is shining. Water still pelts off 3 weeks later! Gonna ditch the wax and will continue to use." - Josh S. 

BUY NOW

Summary

There you have it! You now know how to thoroughly and safely clean your bicycle. And, unlike some unlucky cyclists, you know exactly how to protect it from future damage, keeping it in prime condition for many extra miles.

  • Published on Jan 07, 2021
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