Whilst professional cyclists take this for granted, for almost all amateurs having a clean bicycle is a rare occasion, a luxury almost. But washing a bike and giving it a shine is not an impossible task; you just need to set aside a little time, make sure you have some suitable tools and heed the advice of an expert. For this, Pirelli asked Stefano Casiraghi, the mechanic from the Colpack Ballan Team, for a practical guide to cleaning your bicycle.
A job for a capable DIY enthusiast, which as well as procuring a great deal of satisfaction, will prolong the life of that means of transport of yours: “Now it takes me just a quarter of an hour, but I would say that you can obtain excellent results within a maximum of around an hour” said Casiraghi, who divided the procedure into four basic phases:
Once you have placed the bike on its stand and, if possible, removed its wheels, the first parts to be cleaned are those which are greasy and dirty, meaning the transmission system (the chain, the sprockets, and the derailleur): “You need to de-grease with precision, using a paintbrush, wire brush and elbow grease”. For this job, Stefano recommends a range of specific Walbike products. Once this phase is finished, you should carry out a first rinse: “A normal sprinkle of water will suffice, even from a watering can. You do not need to use a power washer”.
Once you have dealt with the transmission system, all the parts of the bicycle need to be thoroughly lathered: “If you do not have specific products, the neutral soap you use to wash your car works perfectly well” explains Stefano, who can offer professional assistance to amateur cyclists through his workshop. “It is important to lather all the parts carefully, especially those on which grime accumulates, such as the front fork, or underneath the brakes”. Once you have brushed everywhere, you need to rinse everything, here again with a simple water pump, without using high-pressure jets.
According to Casiraghi “this is the most important step to preserve the components. The ideal way would be to start with a jet of compressed air, with which you would give a good blast over the chain and derailleur”. Otherwise, if the bicycle has been thoroughly rinsed with a water hose, you can also use the “classic method of leaving it to dry for a while in the sun, and turning it about in order to shake off all the water”, without the need for compressed air. To finish off, the frame and the rest of the bike should be wiped dry with a dry cloth, carefully putting the final touches to every part by eliminating any droplets.
This is a little “extra”, although one which does not simply have an aesthetic purpose: “Adding a final touch by hand using polishing products and protective waxes such as Frame Shine preserves the frame from grime, as well as brightening the paintwork”. Products of this type should be applied mainly to the frame and the other visible components, such as the outer part of the derailleur. In this way, your bicycle will stay clean and shiny for longer.