Image: Richard Seipp
We recently asked our 22,000 strong Facebook following for their best/weirdest bike cleaning tips. Prompted by hearing of a female member of staff (who shall remain nameless) who hoovered her bike clean of grass cuttings after a cyclo-cross race, we figured that doing the ‘shake and vac’ approach was merely the tip of the iceberg when it came to wacky bike cleaning ideas. Turns out we were right...
Minutes after posting, Mario was quick to chime in, claiming he’d trained a monkey to clean his bike, while just moments previously Dylan confessed to favouring his Dad, presumably foregoing the simian option.
A number of our Facebook faithful were clearly lateral thinkers and used the convenient facilities afforded by their own bathrooms to clean their bikes back to the squeak. Lateral thinking cycling parents quickly joined in – championing baby wipes as ideal for degreasing between the sprockets. After all, if it works on a baby’s bum it’s sure to get the erm, muck, from behind your 23 sprocket. On a similar vein, cycling mum Juanita suggested using a baby’s bottle brush to “get in all the awkward bits.”
Other resourceful souls out there favoured the toothbrush to attack stubborn bicycle grime. Indeed Graeme openly confessed; “Use the wife's toothbrush for cleaning the chain and rear cassette. Soak it in Listerine afterwards. So far she hasn't sussed.” Don’t worry Graeme, your secret is safe with us (and the rest of the Internet). Luke too involved his spouse in the bike cleaning process noting that; “Just get any item of white clothing belonging to the missus and walk within 10 feet of the bike. All the muck and grease jumps straight off and onto the garment.”
Not content with sullying Britain’s bathrooms (and wives) in the name of shiny sprockets, you grubby lot quickly descended to the kitchen. Ryan recommended “Chain, cassette, crankset, pedals all off and in the dishwasher. Also take the jockey wheels out of the rear mech for the ultimate clean up.”
It was clear by now that we’d fatally underestimated the resourcefulness of our followship, many of whom adopted the persona of a cycling Ray Mears, using nature’s bounty as a bike cleaning medium. Chris sensibly suggested riding in the rain, while Graham took us back to the heady, homespun days of the 1970s when he and his sideburned pals “threw their bikes in a river” after a particularly muddy ‘cross race and then “shook them til they were clean.” Huw went one better, harnessing the power of the insect world to get his bike clean; “Squishy banana works a treat. Hoards of wasps appear and 'eat' the banana and all the mud with it too.” We’ll take your word for it Huw. As well as insects and bananas, amphibians were also in the mix. However in Richard’s case, they were victims rather than protagonists: “Never actually cleaned my bike - other than to remove some frog-corpse debris which had flicked onto the underside of my saddle. I am not proud of this post in any way.”
Cecily was equally ‘out there’ with her responses, rattling off the following random, stream of consciousness list; “baby wipes, fairy liquid, old pants, dog, WD40, Muc Off, Evans catalogue....”
Many of you however, worked around the problem and recommended abstaining from bike cleaning completely. Chris wisely suggested that cleaning your bike will only highlight problems that you’d otherwise be blissfully ignorant of, while a number of others used a dirty bike situation as a cast iron reason to upgrade. Lea neatly summed up the feeling in the ‘don’t do it’ camp by recommending “Shove it into the garage until the mud dries and drops off on its own...”
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME
A final, honourable mention however must go to the great number of you who wilfully misunderstood our question and offered some sensible, home-grown bike cleaning advice. Here are some of the best/most innovative suggests (disclaimer: take with pinch of salt/follow at your own risk/don’t sue us!)
Keith: “ Soap and water then GT85 for the drive train then polish the frame (titanium) with Brasso , works a treat :-D”
Dan: “Another one for Purple Harry here, especially their "bike floss". Brilliantly simple but I was amazed how clean it got my sprocket in about 30s. Looked like new after! Followed by some (not much) Rock n Roll lube. Rest of the bike just gets a damp cloth now and then.”
Chris: “Poundland stuff that looks like muc off but is called "no more dirty bike"; musta taken em ages to think of that, no worse than muc off suppose. Works the same, costs a tenth of the price. GT85, that lovely smell, I spray it on all over, then I put some on the bike.”
Eric: “I nip to a pound shop and buy some cheapo paint brushes. Ideal for getting into places otherwise cannot be reached. when they are contaminated with oil and grease they are cheap enough to be binned.”
Dave: “Hose, muck-off, soft dustpan type brush for everything (chain and cassette last unless you are doing this every race then it doesn't matter) more hosing then compressed air the whole thing especially the chain then your fave lube. If you don't have a compressor then WD-40, let it dry then lube away. And here's a nice trick when it's too cold for a hose; use the Y piece adaptor from the washing machine connector kit to run a hose with 'hot' water, nice!”
British Cycling Facebook friends, we thank you for your sage advice. We may not be any clearer about how to clean our bikes but we’ve had a good laugh anyway. Right, I’m off to smear my bike with over-ripe bananas...