While usually my bikes are covered in mud, right now there’s dust in every nook and cranny. Bike cleaning is a somewhat hotly contested topic, and many people have passionate reasons why certain bike cleaning methods are or aren’t okay. The truth is though that there’s not a whole lot that can hurt a mountain bike short of submerging it in water.

I hose off my bikes after every trail ride, so usually the big stuff never gets a chance to dry up and cake on. As needed, I’ll do a slightly deeper cleaning to get to the stuff I missed during post ride hose offs. This is what we’ll be covering today.

The first thing you should know is that spraying your bike with water won’t hurt it. What can hurt your bike is high pressure water which can actually force dirt into moving parts like bearings. To avoid this, I keep my hose on a medium spray, and take care not to blast the ends of the hubs, the bottom bracket, or anywhere else with a bearing seal. Everything else gets blasted.

To loosen up grime in the cassette, I use a little WD-40 and a brush. This is the same way I clean my chain and the pulleys on my derailleur. You could use Simple Green, or any other degreaser for this purpose, but just remember that these are all solvents. Solvents remove grease and oil from your bike. WD-40 is sometimes mistaken for a lubricant, but it’s not. WD-40 is a solvent, and it’s great for cleaning.

As for this brush I’m using, it’s okay, but I used to use a dollar store toilet brush, and in some ways it was actually better. The long bristles you’ll find on a toilet brush can really get all up in that cassette.

The rest of my bike gets cleaned with a rag and dish soap. Not very high tech, but it gets the job done.

You might also notice that between these two mountain bikes there’s only one front wheel.

So yeah, that’s one less thing I need to clean today.

While drying your bike with a towel helps prevent water spots, I just drop them from a couple of feet up to shake them off. You could also ride your bike dry. To me, bike cleaning is more for maintenance purposes than it is for cosmetics so I’m not concerned with them being showroom clean. After all, mountain bikes look better when they’re dirty anyway.

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