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How to clean your bike - from a quick lick to a full makeover

Everything you need to know for keeping your bike looking good and running smoothly

Keeping your bike clean won’t just make it look prettier – although that’s A Good Thing in itself – it’ll help ensure it runs smoothly and that the parts last as long as possible. It also gives you the opportunity to spot faults before they develop into anything serious.

Okay, you probably won’t get a whole lot of pleasure from removing all the gunk from your drivetrain but it’s time well spent and it could save you money in the long run. Here’s a quick roundup of the articles we have here on to make certain you get it right.

Perhaps your bike has been tucked away at the back of the garage over winter gathering dust, or maybe you’ve carried on riding right through, in which case it has probably been subject to wet conditions and maybe salt that has been spread by gritting lorries. Either way, now is the perfect time to give your bike a spring clean.

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Your first stop should be this video: How to clean and lube your bike for maximum cycling efficiency.

Andrew Brown (chief mechanic with Cycle Surgery at the time) shows you how to wash your bike and how to clean and lube your drivetrain. It’s pretty straightforward stuff.

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We also have a step-by-step text/picture guide to cleaning and lubing you chain, if you’d prefer the information in that format.

If you’re in a hurry or you just want to spend as little time as possible on cleaning, check out Liam’s video: The lazy way to clean your bike. He’s a work-shy lad, that Liam! We’re not saying his method will clean your bike through and through, but if you’re realistically not going to spend that much time on the job, this will ensure you get the basics done.

While you’re cleaning your bike, also check whether the chain needs replacing.

Doing a decent job requires the right products, particularly when it comes to the drivetrain. Lube needs to stick to the chain in order to do its job but that also means it can be difficult to get off when it becomes dirty.

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Check out our cleaning product reviews here.

You might need to arm yourself with some tools too, and perhaps a workstand. Head over to our tool reviews to find out which products we rate highly.

Our beginner’s guide to bike tools will be handy too.

And so will our article on the best cycling workstands.

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Check out our lube reviews too.

If you want to go beyond cleaning and into more general maintenance, check out other videos from our series with Cycle Surgery.

Video: Bike maintenance Pt 2 – How to Get the Best from Your Bike’s Brakes

Video: Bike maintenance Pt 3 – How to keep your bike's wheels round, tight and true

Video: Bike maintenance Pt 4 – How to Adjust Your Bike's Gears for Maximum Shifting Performance

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Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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