Cycling with a mountain bike can be one of the dirtiest sports you engage in. You might end up with mud surrounding your tires, or pick up a couple of debris, grass, and pebbles.
It can be a pain in the neck, especially if you have no idea on how to get the dirt off your bike. Good thing, we have a step-by-step guide on how to clean a mountain bike, and keep it well-maintained for long-term use. It includes rinsing with water, soaping, foaming, drying, polishing, and lubrication.
For more details, read this guide from top to bottom.
Table of Contents
Things You Need for This Tutorial
Tools and Supplies
Before starting the process, it is essential to prepare all the tools and supplies needed to clean your MTB. In this way, you can give your bike a proper cleaning without spending too much time looking for unavailable tools. Always make sure that you have the supplies within your arm’s reach to save time and energy at the same time.
Finding the right space to clean mountain bike after ride is very crucial. You need to look for a place with enough space so it is easy to move around while doing the process. We recommend using your backyard with a proper drainage system.
In this way, it would be hassle-free for you to clean the space itself after washing the mountain bike. If you do not have that kind of space or you live in a communal area, bike shops have a special cleaning area that you can use. But you need to pay a certain amount in order to avail these services.
Bike stand may not be necessary but it is very useful when washing mountain bikes. It makes the cleaning process less stressful provided that you have better access to every part of your mountain bike. With the help of a bike stand, you have the option to raise up your bicycle and get a better view of the hidden parts of the equipment.
It is the best way to clean a mountain bike as you will see all the angles that require cleaning and washing. You can brush off the dirt with soap and water without having a hard time if you have the bike stand.
Soap, Spray, and Water
In order to clean your bike effectively, you need to use soap, a spray, and water. These items are great cleaning agents that make your job so much easier. They can easily get rid of the dirt by breaking down the particles and reducing the stickiness of mud and dirt. A spray cleaner, on the other hand, can access the smallest dirt attached to your bike.
Brushes, Sponges, and Other tools
Dirts that go into your bicycle can be in various forms and sizes. You need to have different tools and brushes especially when you clean a mountain bike with disc brakes to remove dirt from sticking into your bike. Brushes with varying sizes are essential for cleaning your bike chain and cassette.
Sponges are also helpful in cleaning the smooth surfaces of your bike. It is a great item to use when cleaning the bike frame with paint and decals. In this way, it cannot scratch off the paint leaving unnecessary markings on the bike.
With these tools, you can clean your mountain bike using the steps below:
- Rinse with water
- Soap and foam
- Rinse off the soap
- Polish and lubricate
5 Steps to Clean a Mountain Bike
Step 1: Rinse with water
The first step that should always be done is placing your bike in a proper position. For this, you can use a bike stand to get a better angle of the areas you will clean. With water, rinse your equipment thoroughly from top to bottom to remove the initial dirt and mud sticking through the surface of your bike.
You can use a garden hose or pressure washer for this step. We recommend using one of these two because they can help in accessing hard to reach areas. They can also get through every little corner of your bicycle.
(Pro tip: When using a pressure washer, you need to be extra careful and avoid spraying it directly into your bike suspension pivots, bottom bracket, headset, and wheel hubs. These are delicate components that can easily be damaged).
Step 2: Soap and Foam
After removing the initial dirt from your bike with water, you can apply soap to clean your bike. You can use dishwashing soap or car soap on your bicycle. These are great cleaning agents that can help remove grease and grime thoroughly.
Apply a decent amount of soap or mountain bike cleaner on the brush and foam the bike from top to bottom. Make sure that you covered all the parts of your bike, especially the bike wheels and frames. These two are vulnerable to dirt, and must be given special attention.
For the drivetrain, you can use a smaller brush or a mountain bike cleaning kit to clean. There are smaller brushes available in the market specifically designed for cleaning a bike drivetrain. Before brushing the drivetrain or the cassette, it is important to remove the grass, rocks, and other debris trapped or stuck in the cogs.
For the bike wheels, use a solid and firm brush when removing dirt from your tires. We recommend using a pressure washer, so you can easily take off the mud sticking on the tires. Apply a generous amount of liquid soap to the brush, and scrub all the corners of your bicycle wheels. You can start from the tread, then go around the sidewall and the rim.
Step 3: Rinse
After you soap, foam, and brush your bike completely, you can rinse and wash a mountain bike with water. For this step, we recommend using a pressure washer or a hose to totally remove the liquid soap and foam. When rinsing the wheels or tires, you can rotate the pedals and let the water run thoroughly through the links of the chain.
You can also inspect your bike for any form of damage around the frame, wheels, and other components. You should be able to see any damages clearly since dirt and mud are now already removed from the bike surface. It is also crucial to check whether you thoroughly cleaned your bicycle.
If you still see stubborn dirt, you can repeat steps 1 to 3 until you are satisfied with the cleanliness of your bike.
Step 4: Dry
After you deep clean the bike, remove it from the bike stand and prepare the equipment for drying. Place the bicycle under the sun or in a drying area. You can also pat-dry the bike with dry cloth or paper towel to speed up the drying process. Wait until the bike is completely dried, and no excess water is dripping from it.
Step 5: Polish and lubricate
You can place the bike back to a stand to prepare it for polishing. With the help of a silicone polish, polish the bicycle frame using a cloth or towel. In this way, dirt and mud cannot easily stick to the surfaces of your bike. Rub all the corners with a thick layer of polisher, especially when you frequently use the bike in a wet and muddy area.
This step can buff and shine your bicycle, and improve its appearance. Polishers have wax substances that can help repel water and prevent mud from sticking to the bike. They can also leave your bicycle shiny and brand new.
Then, use oil or degreaser on your drivetrain and chain. Apply oil to all the chain links, and wipe off the excess to prevent dirt from coming in. It is a great way to polish and clean a mountain bike chain.
A responsible cyclist must know how to clean a mountain bike. It helps increase the longevity of the equipment and ensures its optimum performance. Cleaning a mountain bike should not be a stressful process, and one must find joy in the whole process.
May this guide provide you with simple but effective ways to clean a bicycle. We kept them thorough but brief, so you can apply them every time your bike needs some mtb cleaning.
“I ride my bike to work for years, but is that enough? Our carelessness towards our surroundings has taken a toll on the environment. And now, everyone is responsible for changes; even the most minor contribution is counted. With this hope and spirit, I started with my partner to establish Biketoworkday to help more individuals commute to their work sites on their bikes.”