Between not riding and being unemployed, I have way too much time on my hands. But I have a wealth of bike people friends, and bike people are unselfish about sharing advice on all things bicycle. I got organized and put social media to work (not actually asking for advice, but simply talking about cleaning my road bike). I got lots of responses to my posts, messages, emails, and tweets. I took a day to consolidate and examine your hints. Here's what I learned:
- People who live in houses love hoses for getting off the big lumps. I live in a highrise. Luckily a bunch of you also live in highrises. The bathtub and a hand-held shower device with an extra long shower hose was what everyone talked about. One friend said she had a vertical bike wall storage hook installed in the shower to hold her bike while she cleaned it. Very nice idea.
- There was a lot of variation in preferred cleaning products. A few squirts of a gentle liquid dish washing soap in water got the most votes. Some liked it in a bucket, some preferred a spray bottle. Many people were very particular about the brand of soap, too. (Gentle on the hands seemed to be the important consideration.) Simple Green was the hands-down favorite as a degreaser.
- Getting into those difficult places on the drive train ranked as the area with the most strongly held opinions and ranked number one in the sheer number of tips and hints. Strips of soft cloth, shoelaces, old yarn, cotton garden string, dental floss, Q-tips, and specialty brushes were recommended. Now, I understand people obsessing about this. It is a bitch of an area to clean. I gave each a try. (Thin strips of old t-shirts worked for me.) No matter what anyone advised, my old Park Tool's Chain Scrubber remains my personal favorite for chain cleaning with minimum mess.
- Once the big lumps were washed away, the order for the cleaning was first the drivetrain, then the rest of the bike (general order being front to back, top to bottom).
- Best, most often noted, and funniest advice: Don't put Armor All products on your bike seat, rims, or tires.
- Biggest thing not to forget: relube the chain.
- Best thing I learned: blue shop towels. (I asked Al. He had some.) If anyone else is as clueless as I was, these are ultra-strong paper towels. Al gets them at the hardware store. (Who knew?)
So now I have a spiffy clean bike. Next week I'll be out riding it again. (Am I a happy, happy person? Oh, yeah.)