Member tips: Your alternative bike care toolkit

Member tips: Your alternative bike care toolkit

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Knowledge Level: Beginner

When maintaining your bike it's important to use the right tools and components - or book in with a trusted mechanic. But there are lots of other bike care jobs where reusing and repurposing household items will give a great result, while also reducing your impact on the planet.

The following tips are from British Cycling members who shared their tried and tested workstand workarounds using bits and bobs from around the house. Let’s start in the bathroom.

Toothbrushes: This probably isn’t news to anyone, but used toothbrushes are brilliant for shifting stubborn dirt and grime from your chainset. The bristles can get between chain links, helping to ensure that degreaser gets to all of the most inaccessible places. Jockey wheels and cassette teeth will also benefit from a good scrub when you’re giving your bike a proper clean.

Takeaway containers: Into the kitchen and if you have a cupboard full of takeaway boxes, this one is for you. As well as holding and sorting small parts while you fettle or for long-term storage, these containers are brilliant chain degreasing baths. Most are just the right size to coil your chain around and you can then pour in some degreaser, pop a lid on (if you can find the right one) and leave it to soak. You can then give it a good scrub, wash it, reinstall and lube.

Spray bottles: Bike wash products are increasingly being sold in top-up containers, so making use of empty spray bottles is a great way to avoid unnecessary plastic waste while making sure your bike clean is as efficient as possible. Just make sure that you give the empty bottle a really good rinse first.

A scoop of protein powder

Protein powder scoops: This one is very specific, but if you’ve got a plastic scoop left over from previous protein products you might find they are a useful shape to remove old tyre sealant if you’re running a tubeless set-up.

Old clothing and textiles: Having a wardrobe clear-out? Cutting up old tops, shirts and even socks to use as bike cleaning rags was a common tip from our members. One went on to suggest that cutting off the collar, cuffs and seams makes good floss of different depths for rear cassette cleaning. That’s a pro-level hack!

Pipe insulation: It can be handy to have sections of the grey foam tubes that wrap around water pipes if you travel with your bike and don’t have a case with a well-fitting mould. These tubes pop onto areas like your forks, chain and seat stays and seat post to protect them in case the bike moves in transit. Also a useful addition if you travel with your bike in the back of a car or van.

A mechanic wrapping new handlebar tape

Black electrical tape: A humble roll of electrical tape was one of the most prolific suggestions from members, with so many uses. Covering jobs like securing under-bar cable casing, finishing off bar tape and protecting your frame from mounts, electrical tape should be a staple cyclist stocking filler every Christmas. Zip ties fit into this category, too.

We want to say a big thank you to our members for sharing their wisdom. Hopefully the above advice gives you some inspiration to have a root around and put things destined for the bin or recycling to use, extending the life – and the life of your bike.

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