Thanks to gravel bikes, it is now possible to take on roads which road bikes cannot access, and which used to only be accessible to mountain bikes: what a revolution! However, gravel bikes are much more similar to road bikes in their frame and components, making it of course much more delicate than a mountain bike. This is why keeping it clean is paramount.
A clean bike lasts longer
As we have already seen for how to keep your road bike clean, washing your vehicle is one of the most important moments of its maintenance. When we talk about maintenance, we usually only think about mechanical work, fixing what doesn’t work or preventing issue by working on the technical components. In fact, keeping your bike clean is exactly what this is: taking care of the bicycle parts to prevent problems related to wear and tear, malfunction and damage. Carrying out proper maintenance will definitely lengthen the lifespan of each and every mechanism and, consequently, of the bike itself. Therefore, washing is as part of the maintenance as is taking it to a mechanic, but it’s up to you to keep it up… So, get to work and take care of your gravel bike.
Let’s see the most important steps to follow to keep your gravel bike perfectly clean.
What not to do
As always, let’s begin by dispelling any doubt by listing what you should absolutely not do to keep your gravel bike clean. We have compiled 5 common mistakes to which everyone must pay special attention. Here they are:
- Washing your bike too often. A lot of water goes into cleaning a bike, but water can easily penetrate the hub and the frame, preventing it from running as smoothly as it can. Remember that a gravel bile must be thoroughly washed only when strictly necessary, that is, when it’s very dirty, with residue of mud and dirt. It is however good practice to remove dust and dirt after every ride with a cloth, followed by some degreasing and lubrication. Deep cleaning too frequently is never recommended.
- Not washing your bike often enough. The opposite is a mistake too; it’s important to find the right balance. In fact, if after riding your bike there are mud, dust and dirt on the frame and wheels, it’s very risky to simply put it back in the garage without removing all that grime. Doing so may cause every part of the bike to incur in serious damage, sometimes irreversible, and in this case even the expertise of a mechanic may not be sufficient, and you will have to replace certain parts.
- Using high-pressure water jets. One of the most common mistakes is using a power washer to wash your bike with high-pressure water jets. The powerful jet can easily push water into your bike’s components, going beyond the protective barrier of the dust guards and rubber seals. In addition to water, dust and dirt can penetrate too, further damaging your vehicle.
- Using non-specific detergents. It is always recommended to use specific products to wash your gravel bike. Generic detergents and degreasers are too aggressive and may compromise not only the lacquer but also the most delicate parts of your bike. So, it is always good practice to use specific products.
- Not drying your bike. The same care you put into washing your bike must be used also when drying it. Not drying your vehicle at all is definitely a serious mistake: your bike should not stay wet because of the damage that water can bring that we mentioned above. The drying process should be done meticulously using a microfiber cloth.
How to clean a gravel bike
Let’s have a look at the main steps to follow to keep your gravel bike perfectly clean. After your ride, the first thing to do is check the state of your bike: if it’s very dirty, a deep cleaning is in order; if it’s just dusty, remove the dust and any small residue of dirt.
In case of a deep cleaning, here is what to do:
- You can use a power washer, but spraying the water at low pressure and keeping a distance of one meter from the bike. Do this with the bike secured onto a stand, if possible. This step is fundamental to remove all dirt.
- Next, use a specific product for bikes or some delicate soap and a sponge to thoroughly clean your bike, taking care of washing every part of it.
- Particular attention should be paid to the chain, which needs to be degreased with a specific product.
- Then, rinse the bike, always keeping in mind the rules on how to use water to wash bikes.
- After washing, gather your cloth and your patience: dry everything thoroughly, in order to prevent oxidation on the chain and on the steel parts.
- Now the last step: lubricate the chain… and your bike is ready for the next ride! Use a specific product, a professional lubricant for bikes. This step is crucial to allow the chain, derailleur and gears to glide smoothly. Lubricate the derailleur and gear mechanisms. Lubricate the chain while keeping it in movement, with the rear wheel above ground, then wipe it off with a cloth to remove excess grease. Now, move gears and derailleur into all their positions to evenly distribute the product. This operation will make sure you don’t get dirty when riding your bike next.
A gravel bike must be taken care of in order to have the chance to perform at its best. Cleaning it is a vital detail for bike care and neglecting its importance may compromise the correct functioning of each component, as well as the efficiency of your pedaling.