Never Mind Self-Care …

dirty bike
… time for some bike care.

I had absolutely no plans to go anywhere by bike today but I did have some bike-related business to take care of. It’s been a wet and muddy autumn and winter so far and in recent weeks my bike had crossed the border from ‘showing that I’m not a fair weather cyclist’ to ‘active bike neglect’. This is not just the superficial matter of surface muck – I’m not that fussed whether you can tell what colour my bike is or not, but I do know that a little bit of attention to the drive train would undoubtedly make the bike work better and probably reduce my maintenance bills to boot.* I did go through a phase of at least running a wet wipe round the chain and re-oiling it every so often (and yes, I know about wet wipes but I put them in the bin, not down the drain) but somehow that has fallen by the wayside as I come home wet and tired and decide that the bike can probably wait. I know, it’s a terrible way to treat the one you love …

Anyway, yesterday my comeuppance came as I realised that not only was my chain looking a bit neglected, but that it had actively started to seize up making it almost impossible to oil the damn thing without three hands – it wouldn’t let me turn the cranks backwards to run the chain around the mechanism so I was reduced to holding the bike saddle with one hand, pressing down the pedal with the other, and wheeling the bike round in a big circle to get the chain back onto the ring. Naturally, having got enough oil on to get the bike going again, I took it out in the rain and the muck and then chucked it back in the garage unwashed. So today, I made amends, and in a gap in the rain, gave it a good wash and properly cleaned and oiled the chain.

cleaned bike

A quick test run suggests it’s still long overdue for its annual service but at least it won’t be embarrassing to take it into the shop. Although given the continuing state of the roads and the forecast, I expect it won’t stay looking respectable for long.

How often do you clean your bikes?

* In another life, I’d be regularly measuring the chain wear – probably during its weekly cleaning and oiling, haha – and replacing the chain so as to avoid wearing out the chainset quite as frequently as I do now but I’m not in that life now and if I’m honest I’m not sure I ever will be.

6 Responses to Never Mind Self-Care …

  1. “How often do you clean your bikes?” (Plural) – that certainly says a lot about your readership!
    My regular runabout rarely gets cleaned. It has a Hebe chainglider which totally encases the chain so dirt doesn’t get in. It could probably benefit from fresh oil now though. The frame doesn’t really get very dirty thanks to good mudguards.
    I used to commute bike-train-bike on a Brompton, and the country end of my commute was a narrow country lane which gets absolutely filthy in wet weather as the road turns into a river and washes soil down from the hillside. It got a full clean and re-oiling every weekend, but now I only rarely use it so the cleaning is also much less often.
    Finally my Birdy, a folder I use for occasional touring and for one outing a week to the gym to keep it running freely, gets cleaned when it’s dirty, which is working out as every 6-8 weeks.

  2. disgruntled says:

    I did wonder about that, then decided my readership was plural …

    I’ve learned the hard (expensive) way I need to keep better care of my Brompton – they’re solid but they’re not neglect proof

  3. Charles says:

    I clean my bike when it nears it but I do not ride every day. My New Years resolution is to ride once a month. As my favourite occupation is fishing, and I try, and fail, to fish once a month I think it’s a fair challenge. The bike gets a pressure wash once a year, the chain gets WB40 when it needs it, and I deal with things like brakes when needed. This is the last vestige of an expensive engineering education. Liked the comment above about number of bikes…

  4. wisob says:

    Not often enough… (living in a 3rd floor flat does not help).

  5. disgruntled says:

    @Charles – I thought WD40 shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near bike chains?
    @Wisob – I have no such excuse, unfortunately

  6. 2whls3spds says:

    The cleaning of bicycles around here is on an as-needed basis. Other than my fire trail bike or my MTB they don’t usually get all that dirty. My general goal is a full overhaul and detail cleaning once a year for the more heavily used bikes, the Sunday Sunshine bikes maybe every 3 years or so. However, considering the amount of use they didn’t get this past year…


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